I had wanted to try Heart for quite some time but never made the plunge. It wasn’t until recent conversations with Jared Linzmeier of Ruby Roasters that he encourage me, with high acclamations, to give them a go. They recently got in some fresh crop Ethiopia, so I decided what better way to get introduced to the company than through the freshest of fresh beans.
The motivation behind our coffee is simple: uncompromising quality. We are a specialty coffee roasting company aiming to bring people a focused and an exceptional coffee experience.
I feel like it should be known that just because something is “simple” doesn’t make it boring. It means it isn’t complicated, it isn’t artificial, and it isn’t difficult to understand. By living up to a “simple” standard, Heart creates an experience with the coffee that is far from it.
This café, roastery, and bustling destination point on Portland’s eastside opened in October 2009. They even opened a second shop last year in downtown Portland that batch brews their coffee on a Fetco instead of manual brew methods. Why? Simplicity.
Make good coffee, and represent our coffee the way it’s supposed to be presented. - Wille Yli-Luoma (Owner)
Heart aims to bring people a focused, exceptional coffee experience, using green coffee from mainly Central America, South America, and Africa and roasting it to the lightest degree possible while fully developing complex flavors and bringing out delicate clarity.
Spoiler alert: they do just that. I was blown away by the complexity and clarity of, you know what… let’s just jump right into this bag of Ethiopia Chire from Heart Coffee Roasters.
Roaster: Heart Coffee Roasters
Origin: Ethiopia, Sidamo, Guji
Processing: Fully washed
Elevation: 1,800 - 1,950m
Harvest: December 2013- January 2014
Woodneck | 30g © to 476g (w) | 4:25 total time | 202 degrees | 1.44 TDS | 21.11% Ext.
Dry aroma is incredible. Woodsy, sweet, citrus and fruit notes.
Nose: raisin, cherry, caramel, tea
Unlike anything I’ve ever had.
Raisin, cranberry, prune, date, lime citrus notes, honey tea, red currant all appear right off the bat. Incredibly clean - super delicious.
Really crisp, really clear and articulate. Honestly it’s really hard to deviate from those notes that Heart listed.
Cooling further the lime and tea leaf notes get more prominent. Best way I can describe the taste is imagine a orange dreamsicle and insert lime instead of orange. Each sip begins with that honey sweetness that, as it cools, starts to take form of raspberry or peach tea sweetness. Honey notes make an appearance now in the long finish as well hints of fresh grape tomatoes.
Sweetness really explodes in the last bit of the cup - most similarly to Ethiopian profiles I am more accustomed too. Floral infused honey notes exist leading the way with a delicate yet complex and pleasing stone fruit cocktail profile fills the middle of the cup, still ending tea-like but with a more noticeable citrus acidity surviving into the long finish.
Articulate dried fruit and stone fruit, honey sweetness, lime acidity.
Gino Dripper | 36g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 202 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 18.47% Ext.
Peanut butter creaminess to the cup. Hard to pull distinct notes like previously but some noticeable dry fruits (golden raisin, currant) as it opens. More orange-like citrus acidity leading the way, sweet lightly syrupy center with fruit and honey in the finish. Doesn’t feel as articulated as made in the Woodneck.
Cooling the acidity seems to take a bit more lime like, and the tea notes come out.
That sorbet sweetness returns like I found in the Woodneck. Notes of raspberry, peach, date, passion fruit, kiwi - all seem like they’ve been laid out to dry with a coating of honey, that when landing on the tongue melts off the sides of the tongue and filling the mouth.
Honeysuckle and hibiscus seem to arrive in the cup as the notes rest more delicate and soft, sparkling citrus acidity and honey tea sweetness finishing the cup.
It was a softer presentation, and still really enjoyable, but I preferred the clarity the Woodneck seemed to have.
Clever | 23g © to 350g (w) | 2:30 then drop | 4:45 remove dripper | 202 degrees
Nice, bright, soft and juicy. Lemon tea grabs you first, with honey sweetness coming in the finish. Currant and raisin noticeable along with some floral and orange notes seeming to appear too. A little more sweetness comes out but it really doesn’t stray from those notes.
Siphon | 30g © to 480g (w) | 1:30 pull heat - 3:00 total time | 200 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 22.49% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Starts really creamy and sweet with notes of floral, vanilla, dried fruits as well as melon it seems.
As it cools it grows immensely rich but also more subtle, sweet raisin comes out with more full honey sweetness to the body.
It arrives more quickly to some of those typical Ethiopia profile notes than the other methods, but still I come back to honey tea, a crisp acidity, and raisin. Raspberry, apricot, currant, and lime all dance together on the palate before floral infused honey tea sweeps them to the rear of the mouth, with the finish also welcoming hints of cocoa.
The acidity is pleasing, I’m thinking grape acidity more than lime, but it’s bright and welcomed. Each sip continues to grow sweet as honey is extracted more and more from every last drop.
While the fruit notes seem to meld more together there also seems to be an emphases on the balance of those fruit notes, so they are more noticeable but still tricky to decipher as it cools more. All I do know is the sweetness throughout the cup has been reminiscent of some gesha offerings (particularly in the beginning of cup and in the end of cup). Toffee seems to be the final flavors drawn out of the last sips of the cup: another great make of this delicious coffee.
Soft, sweet, tangled fruits, floral.
V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:00 total time | 197 degrees | 1.30 TDS | 20.00% Ext. (preferred method)
Really nice and balanced, comfortably bright with chocolate notes in the lows. Raisin notes still there but more mellow. A lot of sweetness as it opens up, honey too beginning to emerge from the rest of the cup.
Peach cobbler, raspberry sorbet, limes dipped in honey.
Iced V60 no stir | 20g © to 200g (w) | 200g ice | 2:15 total time | 203 degrees
Initial sips have a really buttery texture, sweet and pleasing. Prune noticeable, raisin and currant creeping in too as I sip further. Brightness is really toned down, but still has citrusy notes I can detect.
Caramel, honey, and tea notes too become noticeable.
This is a great coffee for this as it already presents itself with tea-like qualities but with nice body and fruit notes that take a good solidified form in cold format.
Iced Bonmac | 28g © to 280g (w) | 140g ice | 3:30 total time | 197 degrees
Still buttery body - a lot sweeter initially that v60. Those tea leaf notes still there with raspberry, lime, orange, honey, date notes. Sweet Yirgacheffe profile with honey sweetness, lemon pinch, and tea finishings the whole way - a perfect iced coffee. Not too sweet, just the right balance of everything.
The more it sits in the ice, the sweeter it grows and less the tea notes are there. It still doesn’t do a wild shift, just a little change in the percentages of what is showcased. More honey seems to show up with sorbet like fruity sweetness.
“ What I love about heart is that our goals for the company are met all the time. With realistic goals and a focus on quality, our growth should continue to feel organic and heart should flourish.” - Rebekah Yli-Luoma (CEO)
I’d definitely say their goals to roast excellent coffee full of complexity and clarity was not just met, but exceeded. It was one of the cleanest, sweetest, most complex offerings I’ve had, not just from Ethiopia but in general. It wasn’t hard to bring it out of the coffee - it was just there; it was just… simple.
This is the perfect coffee at this time of the year. Coming off a lot of selections with peach, plum, currant, leaf notes - this gives those notes a nod initially and seamlessly transitioning into the sweet and loveable flavors I long to experience in these warming months. It performed excellently both hot and cold, with the cold methods (cold brew or iced) jumping right into that Yirgacheffe profile you know and love. Likewise, it performed seamlessly on any device you put it in, with great presentation, change through the cup, body - you name it. This offering carried such great clarity of flavors and articulation of fruits notes. I had mentioned a few other Yirgacheffe coffees in previous reviews that were just smashing (I want to say a Kuma coffee and one other one) and this is right up there with them. This was a hell of an introduction to Heart Roasters and I will definitely be back for more.
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.