Following up on last month’s post, I did finally order from Chromatic Coffee, in what turned out to be an out of my usual espresso blend, and some back to my usual incoming coffees from Counter Culture. Diving in…
Certainly one of the biggest washed Ethiopians I’ve had in recent years, this one really had a lot of depth, structure, and bass notes than I’ve tasted from any Ethiopian, much less a washed varietal from Sidama in recent memory. I enjoyed this coffee at higher yields to provide a little more clarity and transparency in flavors. After a 7-10 days rest it really came alive as espresso, routinely pulling very high extraction yield shots at 18.0 grams in to 50-55 grams out with around 10 seconds of preinfusion and a 30-35 second pull time. This coffee is $16.37 for a 250 gram bag, and 30% off when buying four bags or more.
While waiting for the shipment from Chromatic to arrive and rest, I picked up a bag from a local roaster that has a new-ish location close to my house. Press is one of the original specialty coffee roasters in Arizona, that has been expanding with new locations and more exciting coffees. This one requires a lot of rest or it tends to be a bit gassy and maybe astringent. But in the 10-14+ days post roast range, it starts to settle in nicely at weaker ratios and faster brew times. A bit more bright and less developed than the Nansebo above, it still retains a good amount of body and sweetness, with a pretty tamed level of acidity. I’m not seeing this one on their website, but it was around $18.75 for a 12 ounce bag, with their Kenyan being another that might be worth checking out.
Chromatic’s Instagram feed was seemingly raving about this one right after I left San Jose last time without trying it, so I had to see for myself. Described as “darkly-bright” this is an interesting, extreme take on a Moka-Java profile with LOTS of deep, classically dense and roasty base notes and thick viscous mouthfeel, but a more modern, brightly fruited acidity folded in. This is certainly a darker and more developed roast than I typically drink, but fun to visit and change up the usual. If I were to categorize the dark vs light, I would say this one seems like it skews kind of 75% / 25%, dark vs light flavors, whereas I would generally inverse that, but it works very well in milk because of it’s deep richness. I tended to pull shots faster and cooler to bring out as much fruit and acidity as possible, settling on about 17.8 to 17.9g in an 18g VST basket to about 36-42 grams out with 3s of preinfusion, about 25s pump on, and 197*F water. This coffee punches through a 5 ounce cappuccino very well, and will easily hold up in an 8oz latte. Holy Mountain is $21.99 for a 12 ounce bag with free shipping on all orders over $16.
I was initially a bit disappointed that this one was also roasted a bit darker than I would have liked, but found that after some additional rest it really started to open up with more depth and complexity, particularly as espresso, where it had a lot of fruit cup syrup like sweetness. Espresso shots at 18 : 34-37g with 3s preinfusion and 25s pump on using 197*F water (same recipe as Holy Mountain) were really good. Not much acidity but very smooth and fruited sweetness. I brewed this one on the faster and cooler side as well, with good results that highlighted a deeper, richer cup, with a little less sweetness, but very good for a comfort cup all the less. $19.99 for a 12 ounce bag here.
This is probably my first Ugandan coffee, and it was interesting that Counter Culture is offering it in three different processing methods (washed, natural, honey). The “grapefruit, vanilla, and brown sugar” tasting notes on this washed version sounded pretty tasty, so I gave it a go. Although I am liking it more as espresso than brewed, I struggled to make this sing or shine, really. When brewed, it was easy to get heavy, muddled cups, so I shot for really fast brew times using 1:17 ratios. This provided a bit more transparency that opened up a bit as it cooled, but overall tasted like a fairly average comfort cup when hot.
As espresso, the sweetness was more pronounced. Targeting fast pulls at standard or long ratios didn’t quite bring out a lot, and tasted under extracted, so I tightened the grind and found around 8s of preinfusion at 2.5 bar to a 30-35 second pull seemed to suit it much better using 18 grams of coffee in an 18 gram basket to around 49 grams out. It’s $18.25 for a 12 ounce bag here, and though it wasn’t my favorite, it will be great to see if Ugandan coffees continue to improve in the coming years.
Apollo is CCC’s year round “Ethiopian” or formerly their lighter roasted seasonal espresso that at many times is a single origin, like with this bag, which is 100% Banko Dhadhato, Ethiopia. They structure the coffee to consistently have a citrus and floral profile with lighter body, characteristic of a washed Ethiopian. I’ve had Apollo in the past and found it a bit light and lacking for my tastes, but this one is different. Either because the washed Ethiopians have a bit more body and depth as of recent, as reference above from Press, or because I’m starting to grind finer and push out extractions, or maybe both. Whichever it is, this coffee is tasting very good so far with a tea like profile that really does linger with a pleasantly bright acidity. The first shots I had were 18 grams : 40 grams, one from a buddy’s Kafatek Monolith Flat, and one from the Versalab M4, using the Cafelat Robot, and they were nearly identical, and both fantastic.
Apollo is a very reasonable $15.75 for a 12 ounce bag, especially given the high quality of coffees Counter Culture gets.
As always, thanks for reading along, be sure to comment below or instagram if you have any questions, suggestions, or just to say hi, and be sure to drink some tasty coffee!