"Tikur Anbessa is the Black Lion, an enduring symbol of Ethiopia's greatness. It is an appropriate touchstone for an extraordinary coffee that delivers flavors of honeysuckle, key lime and peach."
You might think that Intelligentsia has this one pretty hyped up by reading the description, but once you try and see how special it is, you realize they deliver (as usual). I expected this coffee to be light and bright, being a washed Ethiopian, but I did not expect it to be this bright considering this bag was under their Black Cat Espresso Project label, as a Single Origin Espresso, and not a filter coffee. Intelligentisa's Black Cat Project selects and roasts coffees to very specifically shine as espresso. A lot of times this can mean that roasts are more developed or a little darker, especially when dealing with single origin coffees, to tame acidity and maximize sweetness and body. Tikur Anbessa has sweetness and body, but it also has vibrant, peachy sweetness and acidity in spades. So much so that even I had to get creative on how to really make this one sing.
I brewed a few cups on the Hario V60 and realized this one liked to be pushed for extraction. The description fits when brewed as well, lots of floral aroma, and juicy peach acidity and sweetness, and some key lime acidity tang.
Pulling shots at 1 : 2 ratio in 30 - 35 seconds were very bright, turning up that key lime note, and leaning a bit more towards sour peach. I increased the temperature of the shot, targeting around 203*F to tame a bit of that edge, and starting pushing out the preinfusion and ramp down to see if I could tame this one. Pushing the preinfusion times from 5 seconds, to 8 seconds, all the way up to 10 second preinfusion until seeing beading on the basket. Then activating the pump at a little over 8 bar for an additional 20 seconds, and letting the shot run out for 5-10 more seconds back at line pressure (2.5 bar) for a total shot time of 40 seconds.
This was the most fun part about this coffee (and being able to play with my newly plumbed in machine and preinfusion) was this coffee completely transformed. The coffee became balanced, nuanced, layered, and well rounded but very complex. The acidity was there in a complimentary sense allowing the peach and key lime sweetness to present themselves in sweet and not acidic flavors. Baking spice notes and floral like honey woven in between raw cane sugar had me trying to identify as many flavors as quickly as possible. This coffee went from bright, a bit (too much) in your face, and peach dominated to complex, nuanced, and layered with origin flavors.
I don't see the single origin espresso specific offering of this coffee on Intelligentsia's website anymore, but they do still have this coffee available. It might be worth a call to see what if any different there may have been or if the SOE option was cafe only? $22 for a 12 ounce bag is a bit steep, but this coffee does stand above others in terms of its complexity, quality, and flavors. Free shipping on orders over $40.