Barter Coffee Roasters was introduced to me by way of one of the great coffee focused instagram accounts I follow, @pdxhomebarista. This account is a definite follow for anyone appreciating high quality (at least to my eye) photographs of coffee. Kevin's wife, @kierstasze is a designer and photographer that designed the label for this coffee for Barter Coffee Roasters. And @barter.coffee is unique in the sense that, as the name implies, there is a give and take to the world, and to the coffee trade especially. Barter tries to focus on those relationships and put forth good vibes, even promoting you to just drop them a little message!
With Ethiopia Derar Ela, proceeds from every bag are donated to the Dreaming Zebra Foundation, providing art and music supplies to underprivileged children. The coffee is (I think) my first naturally processed African coffee of the year, now that the seasons are shifting. The mixed heirloom varietal from the Guji zone of Ethiopia is stated to have tasting notes of, "pineapple, oranges, sweet, and green tea." The coffee kind of makes a good transition from the mostly washed coffees I've had as of recent in that it is still has some nuance and layers. It is distinctly dry processed in the aroma and the fullness of flavor, but seems to have more lingering sweet layers than just a one trick bean.
Big blueberries emerge upon opening the bag, and first on the mouth when brewed, similar to the big blueberry bomb natural Ethiopians from 4 or 5 years ago. After that initial burst of berries is where the coffee differs though with a lot of chocolate and and subtle sweet spice emerging. The finish and body are more delicate than a big naturally processed coffee as well, almost more like a honey process coffee. I kept brewed cups on the faster side to coax out the big flavors and acidity, as I found 23 gram doses pushed much past 3 minutes to start getting more bittersweet chocolate and muddled flavors. My go to recipe for this one was:
- 1 : 15 ratio - 24 grams of coffee to 360 grams total yield in the 02 size Hario V60
- 70 gram stirred bloom for 30 seconds using 198*F water
- Slow circular pour to 250 - 275 grams, stir
- Repeated pours maintaining that water level until final weight is reached.
- 2:45 brew time.
As espresso, this coffee never quite tasted as well balanced or as sweet as I had hoped in the VST baskets. My best shots were pulled similar to brewed - somewhat cool and faster, pulling a normale (1:2 ratio) in about 25 seconds at 198*F. Upon switching to the IMS precision double baskets in hopes of bringing out more sweetness, the recipe went to 19 grams in 38 grams out in 26 seconds with 198*F water. These shots were less nuanced but more blueberries and chocolate and very crowd pleasingly good.
The coffee held up well in cappuccinos and lattes and proved to be very versatile overall. $17 for a 12 ounce bag here.