Brian Beyke

Compelling & Rich - Ethiopia Kochere

Brian Beyke
Compelling & Rich - Ethiopia Kochere

If you read my recap of coffees in 2014, you may have seen the name Compelling & Rich a time or several. The Los Angeles based roaster is making more than a name for himself, he is laying down some excellent standards for micro roasters in general, pushing the envelop of development through the roasting process instead of playing it safe. Not to say there is a right or wrong way to roast, but Kian is definitely doing things right. Aside from really delicious coffees, I’ve been most impressed by Compelling & Rich’s ability to make coffees accessible, especially when it comes to natural processed and semi-natural processed coffees. However, today we aren’t looking at either of those, but a washed process coffee that hails from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, and boy is it a doozy.  

Kochere is a tiny area within Yirgacheffe with a washing station where local farmers can bring their coffee harvest for processing. The farms themselves are generally very small. The washing station, which acts as something of a community center, is well run. The manager takes pride in running a tight ship and insuring that the cherry coming in for processing is exceptional and sorted appropriately. A great deal of time is spent hand sorting pergamino (dried coffee in husk) for defects during its drying period on raised African beds.


Roaster: Compelling & Rich Coffee

Region: Kochere district, Gedeo zone, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Farm: Kochere Catchment Station

Process: Washed process, Sun-dried on raised beds

Varietal: Wolisho, Kudhume, Dega

Elevation: 1,750 – 2,050m

Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 4:30 total time | 205 degrees | 1.39 TDS | 20.44% Ext.

Man, Kian really nailed that aroma. The bean does carry a perfumed herbal note, but above that is this enticing and sweetly vanilla cream that softly draws you in.

First sips immediately post brew, I honestly don’t know what to say about it. It’s an incredibly unique experience, complex might not accurately describe it as there it is less about commotion and more about layering. It’s an incredibly layered intro to the cup, with the highs being honeysuckle, rose, nectarine, cherry blossom, the mids being old fashion pharmacy style cream soda, and the finish be where you notice herbals, caramel, raspberry, strawberry, and watermelon candy, lime, and a touch of dark chocolate, just a touch.

Cooling a bit you find this really interesting clarity. The body is creamy, honied almost yet you still find a candied grape sweetness not unlike the Green-Tip gesha but without that pomelo citrus. Citrus isn’t exactly highlighted in this cup, which I noted in some previous Kocheres, but you do find a very vivid orange peel note. It’s fragrant in the mouth, it’s lingering with a slight dry sweetness, peach, juicy honeydew, and slightly tea’d in the finish.

This Kochere, read washed Ethiopian, has such an interesting development to it from others I’ve had. It’s very easy to get lost, but final sips do have a balanced floral atop a delicious and plump vanilla and caramel with lingering sugar and black raspberry, and surprisingly seems to pull that citrus note out in the super long finish.  Quite an outstanding brew.  

Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 4:00 total time | 205 degrees

I wish I knew the extraction on this. The first sips are a biiiiiit extreme, so I’ll let it set in.

After a few minutes the cup is, again, intricately layered. You seem to notice white peach almost immediately in this make, with a plush and pillowy lingering. Cooling further it seems to be a bit more dense than the Chemex, which makes sense. Honeysuckle and lemongrass emphasize more, with a bit of vanilla black tea finishing.

That honeysuckle specifically is noted in this method. In fact, you find honeycomb, honeysuckle, and a really nice, slow saturation of sweetness. Apricot present, and a bit of an orange skin dry lingering in the long finish. It, for some reason, doesn’t seem as alluring as the Chemex. It does, however, have a syrupy sweet tea body, which is very interesting.

Brew Method:

The Dragon | 20g © to 310g (w) | 1:15 add outer water |  3:15 begin plunge | 4:00 end time  | 207 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 22.30% Ext. (Immersion mode)

This cup is on the cusp of being hands down the best ever, I think it might just be a hair more extracted than the sweet spot.

There’s no sense beating around the bush, the aromas of this cup are out of this world. Through the entire bloom, brewing process, and nose the cup radiates with florals, herbals, and soft crisp citrus. Immediately diving in you greet those florals head on, then a bit more concentrated of a sweet tea note than you have found previously, but then it goes right into this buoyant honied and syrupy body.

Peach, mango, apricot and lychee reside most in this cup, with lemongrass and honeysuckle following after, and that pomelo citrus is inches away from being there. You have a lovely candy sweetness, but again the sweet tea is a bit more focused here.

I’m fairly certain I’ve said it before, but gosh damn if this doesn’t have one of the most complex lingerings. As it cools it grows sweeter, more developed. Honeysuckle, cream, watermelon, white tea„ grape, peach, nectarine, cool water women’s perfume, lime, dried lemon with a quick zing of orange before a saturating honey sweetness and long finish with notable baked green apple skin. The finish is a bit dusty, reminds me a bit of pollen. I find that impressive, it at least very interesting.

Brew Method:

Espresso/Cappuccino | Crossland CC1 | Bottomless triple basket | 20.5g in | 39g out | 0:30 total time | 201 degrees

This was my favorite espresso parameter, even after some more restricted and more lungo varieties. (although I did also like 20.5 in, 28 out, 33 seconds)

Regardless of how you pull, you come to find this espresso sings of lychee (a bit more if more restricted, a bit more raspberry and peach if longer). The florals are immaculate, clean, complex and haunting. Citrus isn’t radical immediately, but as it opens you get lemon and lime added to the cup, which I found mostly pleasing cutting through in the middle of a cappuccino, still beautifully creamy with florals added and a tropical linger. What is great about the espresso and  espresso/milk is that you don’t get the saturated sweet tea note, which wasn’t bad to begin with but this just highlights all the sexy.

Brew Method:

Bonmac | 17g © to 275g (w) | 2:30 total time | 202 degrees | 1.38 TDS | 20.54% Ext.

I have reached brewing Zen right here. The coffee is perfectly aligned. You dive in and immediately notice layer upon layer of sweetness- floral led, tropical tickled, and berry laden alike.  The sweetness, while not the Green-Tip grape fullness, is very very close. What excites me the most, is the acidity here. The acidity has reached its perfection, and the sweetness still complex and candy-like.

This is the most harmonious brew I have had so far, as it lusciously moves effortlessly in the highs before finding a more creamy than syrupy saturation on the palate that almost squeezes out all possible sweetness, yet steers clear of that very concentrated sweet tea-like saturation. I will say, the herbals are a tad more in focus here which is a great nod to all the other Kochere I’ve had in the past, yet this roast still stands immaculately on its own.

While peach and vanilla seem to stand out mid-cup, fading to that grape and melon candy sweetness as it lingers, fully surrounded and supported by floral. The acidity most closely reminds me of pomelo, with pineapple and jasmine following immediately behind.

I still think it will be noticeable to some that the development of this coffee seems to stand out among other washed Ethiopians. That being said, it still remains clean, bright, and endlessly nuanced.

Final sips are the epitome of effervescent, white tea-like lined with lychee, honey, nectarine, candied lemon, honeysuckle, peach, cantaloupe, and cream with lingering orange, pomelo, and rose.  What a dream.  

If you read the blog, or follow me on social media, you know I’ve had a lot of washed Ethiopians in the last year. I became a bit fascinated with them, and how various regions and washing stations seemed to articulate various flavors- their similarities and differences alike.  I’ve had several coffees from the Kochere region, most notably probably being The Barn’s ultimo-floral led towards the end of the year. However, I am here to say that Compelling and Rich’s roast of this coffee has set a new standard.

From my first cup I noticed what I can only describe as a more developed Kochere than previously.  That shouldn’t be read as more-roasted necessarily, but more developed. It is still a light roasted coffee, but instead of simple bright citrus and soft florals this coffee is layered with flavor, saturated with sweetness, and nuanced in a way that most closely reminds me of my top coffee of last year - Verve’s Green-Tip gesha from Panama. Now, there are clear differences between them, but this isn’t really the place to flesh that out. I did, however, want to state that just so you can see the impression this coffee has left on me and we are still very, very early in the year.

Be it filter, espresso, or with milk, this coffee has performed wonderfully.  It aged close to a month while still articulating wonderfully, and I think fully showed it’s dynamic profile best in Chemex or Bonmac and also straight espresso.  I can’t say enough good things about this coffee.  Absolutely dynamite, beautifully layered, and intricately woven.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.