While natural processed coffees are what first led me down the rabbit hole of specialty coffee, most of last year and into this year I have stayed away from them. Honey processed coffees followed a similar line, while I seemed to prefer them a bit more in most cases with offerings from El Salvador or Panama. Kian from Compelling & Rich is one who not only appreciates natural processed coffees but finds them misunderstood by a lot of people. In my attempt to reclaim an appreciation for them I had somehow lost, I knew it would be at his hands that I’d come to see them for what they can be. Let’s get into the honey-processed Yirgacheffe from the Koke Cooperative.
Koke is a small district in the northeastern part of the Yirgacheffe region, and one of the most mountainous areas of the region as well, with heights reach up to 6,000 feet. It joined the cooperatives in 2002. Currently, it has 828 Members. Indigenous coffee varietals, elevation and soil composition contribute to the sweetness, acidity and complex flavors found in Koke coffee. After picking at the perfect stage of ripeness, the cherries are milled at the Koke washing station owned by the YCFCU.
Roaster: Compelling & Rich
Region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
Farm: Koke Cooperative
Process: Honey Process, Sorted for defects to ECX Grade-1 standards
Elevation: 1,700 - 2,000m
Clever | 24g © to 340g (w) | 2:40 then drop | 203 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.25% Ext. (Immersion mode)
This is quite a robust intro the the cup. It carries the floral characteristics of the washed Ethiopians we’ve had this year, but then also several other distinct aspects: crisp yet light sprays of tangerine citrus in the highs, palpable honey sweetness coating the tongue, pear, huckleberry, blueberry, and guava coulis drizzled over a moist chocolate cake, and an incredibly long, creamy finish splashing into an ending that bounced between dulche de leche and tea.
The mouthfeel is the highlight of the cup. Through most of the various sweetness you find, be it berry or caramel or cookies and cream, you always come back to this sensation of melting over the tongue and saturating with flavor, with a lingering that seems to never stop.
I think what you gain from the washed is slight delicacy, balance, florals, and lingering finish and the natural some berry, denseness, and a plush lower end. The sum of these parts will absolutely take your breath away.
The Dragon | 20g © to 310g (w) | 1:15 add outer water | 3:15 begin plunge | 4:00 end time | 207 degrees | 1.12 TDS | 18.35% Ext.(Immersion mode)
Really light impressions off the bat. It carries that nice strawberry jam flavor on the front, with floral notes seeming to come after and then wham. Mango. Really nice, vivid note yet delicate and soft in the cup, with more of a grape juice and clover honey finishing, and as it cools some tickling blackberry notes as well. Short notes as I had company over, and may prepare a bit tighter on the grind.
V60 no stir | 14g © to 228g (w) | 2:00 total time | 205 degrees | 1.28 TDS | 19.30% Ext.
Despite the lower readings, but as can be expected with a v60, this method really pulls out that jammy sweetness and juicy body more than the other methods. It does maintain a slight amount of florals in the tail ends, but mainly sits on strawberry, guava, passionfruit, and huckleberry.
The finish is a bit more tropical, but not as luscious as the clever was. It starts growing more tea-like, still splashing with star fruit, mango, and that dulche de leche note coming back.
Cooling further you have these smooth strawberry syrup notes just slowly dripping down the tongue. All the while this is this tickling like blackberry that is always lightly dancing on the center of the tongue, and traces of orange citrus lying in the long finish.
The final sips in this cup though are quite interesting. It reminds me most of Applejacks cereal, and while I have used that before, this cup definitely carries an apple/mango sweetness with a confectioners sugar element, perfectly combined with a creaminess that all I can think of is sitting down with a bowl of Applejacks.
Gino Dripper | 34g © to 556g (w) | 3:45 total time | 203 degrees | 1.30 TDS | 19.70% Ext.
A banana and winey aroma float through the preparation and brewing, and make a landing in the cup. I’m not sure if it is age off roast, or this just being slightly light, but I feel like I’m chasing after that delicious cup I first had.
Soft but dense strawberry, blueberry, and light tickling of blackberry and cranberry dancing around the tongue and walls of the mouth. It is lightly syrupy, luscious in sweetness, and the more it cools the more it reminds me of pink- raspberry and strawberry and cream candies, clean, and slightly floral like a washed may be. The interesting thing about this versus the clever make is the clever seemed washed transitioning to natural, and this method seems to articulate reversed to some degree.
I guess all this to say the cup shifts a lot. It remains sweet but flows from dense to wispy, syrupy to dainty. Blueberry remains the main focus on the cup, with a bottom of soft mango light florals, guava and ripe tomato. It melts over the palate lighter than previously and instead stays a bit more tingly.
Final sips are still soft blueberry syrup, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, slightly drying grape and apple skin, pear, and tickling blackberry.
Able Kone | 30g © to 435g (w) | 3:15 total time | 200 degrees | 1.19 TDS | 18.24% Ext. (Immersion mode)
So luscious. While it reminds me first off of pink and red fruits, it carries soft florals and light but exotic citrus acidity leading the cup. While it keeps that natural processed density and weight, it isn’t berry forward. In fact, the that comes to mind is gushy. It’s poetic and lightly juicy, complex with light and fresh fruits including raspberry, kiwi, lychee, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, watermelon, honeydew and mango finishing.
A slightly more tickling sweetness grows in the cup, and it also grows a bit more strawberry jammy on the tongue, with a smooth, plump mouthfeel. A bit more blueberry and blackberry starts to come out too, still more silky and sweet than a typical natural with a mousse-like texture and florals, sweet stone fruit, and tropicals around the edges.
The final sips are most similar to blueberry rooibos tea, soft and lightly lingering.
This coffee did more than exceed my expectations, it took me by surprise and swept me off my feet. This coffee is absolutely gorgeous, with a more balanced approach than a lot of straight up natural processed coffees (which makes sense as it isn’t a straight up natural.) However, I’d still probably say this was my favorite honey-processed coffee I’ve had, and one of the best coffees I’ve had all year. It melts over the palate, impresses and alerts every tastebud, and gives you so much experience from cup to cup. I think I said it properly back in the first make of this: what you gain from the washed is slight delicacy, balance, florals, and lingering finish and the natural some berry, denseness, and a plush lower end. The sum of these parts will absolutely take your breath away.
Definitely, definitely a must try.
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.