Life can be messy. Aside from the tasks of sourcing, roasting, opening, running and managing a shop, I imagine it takes a particular level of tenacity to purposefully plan and maintain an atmosphere deemed a “third space” for people to enter. It sounds a little silly at times, I mean isn’t that what every coffee shop is essentially? I’d argue, no. Some places really don’t break down the barriers and welcome all types of diversity and conversation to take place, but that is the root of INDABA Coffee. Nestled in the West Central Neighborhood of Spokane Washington, Bobby Enslow settled this community-driven shop as a means to build into and grow the community around them. “INDABA” is taken from the Zulu word that refers to a gathering of leaders to discuss important matters. This word is at the heart of their mission: to unite different people groups (i.e. tribes) across West Central, Spokane, and the World. We are fortunate enough to visit two offerings from this company, and we’ll learn a bit more about them tomorrow. For now, let us first dive into their Kifle Station, Ethiopia.
This lot comes from one washing station called Kifle in the Deri Kochowa kebele (a county) in Hagere Mariam woreda. It’s rather off the beaten path, far from where other Sidama coffees originate. The road is impassible for several months because of rains; the clay soils produce mud which only the old Mercedes trucks you find all over Ethiopia are apple to traverse. Yes, Mercedes. Moto-taxis seem able to get through too. This area of the Oromia zone is south of Yirga Cheffe town, but has similar coffee growing altitudes of 1800 to 2200 meters. The station has approximately 600 contributing farmers, and produces approximately 150 bags of coffee per year. They use a traditional disc pulper to remove the coffee cherry fruit skins, then use a very long 72 hour under-water, traditional fermentation to break down the mucilage layer of the fruit. The coffee is vigorously agitated in the fermentation tank with wooden paddles to work the mucilage off, then washed to a soaking tank for a clean water overnight bath. Finally it is taken to the raised beds for drying. It’s the classic coffee processing method in Sidama and Yirga Cheffe zones, and one that develops very sweet and clean coffees.
Roaster: INDABA Coffee
Region: Oromia, Ethiopia
Washing Station: Kifle Station
Elevation: 1,800 - 2,200m
V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:20 total time | 201 degrees | 1.44 TDS | 21.60% Ext.
Brewing aroma is incredibly inviting. Tropical fruits, lime, pear, floral, clove, molasses cookie, honey, lemongrass.
Diving in the first sips are greeted by lemongrass, rose, and jasmine that seems to widen across the palate while juicy splashes of apricot, mango, guava, and pineapple lay on the sides of the mouth with a bit of spice and candied ginger residing in the rear of the mouth.
It quickly develops a more buttery mouthfeel, slick and lightly syrupy with refined sugary fruit notes of apple, passion fruit, kiwi and pear, and even milk chocolate dipped strawberries to a lesser extent, still carrying a bit of spice in the finish.
The acidity is interesting. It isn’t noticeable initially, and then sort of makes itself known and gives a little citrusy ting.
As it cools and condenses those spice notes make a bit more sense as it is displayed more as herbal tea-like with a complex web of floral and tropical sweet notes before a clean and lingering floral finish.
The final sips still carry a herbal and spiced tea main focus reminiscent of a chai/black tea with berry notes, apricot, tropical fruit juice, and lingering florals.
Quite a refreshing cup.
Chemex | 30g © to 481g (w) | 4:15 total time | 200 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.17% Ext.
Lightly sweet, buttery aroma. Soft fruits and floral in the cup.
A bit heavier than I am used to for a washed Ethiopian, but again this is my first sips. It feels weighty like butter, with sweet fruits and softer florals detected, with a little bit of a smoked note to it. In the back though, I can sense peach, mango, lemongrass and jasmine, so I know it will open up shortly.
Whoa. Not two minutes after saying that does it open up. Very palpable mango sweetness, you can almost feel the flesh of the fruit as you would bite into it. The aromas open up as well- sweeter, more aromatic, tropical and floral notes. It carries a flowery brightness, with sweet lemon and bergamot along the way.
The cup remains buttery, yet more condensed, with delicious tropical fruit notes and splashy pops of what seems like strawberry, pear, and passion fruit, peach, with tea-spice in the finish.
Cooling further the cup remains incredibly interesting: more approachable than a lot of washed Yirgacheffe offerings I’ve had lately but still remains sugary sweet, nectary and fruity, with the added complexity of herbal tea spice notes swimming around in the finish. Pops of berries and coatings of honey, and a lingering floral infused sweetness.
Mango, jasmine, herbal.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.41 TDS | 21.05% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Starts off a bit more quiet than the other makes. It has a rich silkiness to the body, with some honey kissed fruits just peeking through. We’ll come back as it cools.
Not far off from those initial notes you find a nectary fruit sweetness, again as palpable as peach and mango flesh. Juicy, sweet, with a more syrupy honey sweetness and lingering floral notes.
The cup is quite clean with a gentle acidity. You can notice those herbal tea notes creeping in from the back- more similar to molasses or light sprinkles of cinnamon, but still amidst a medium syrupy body that has a good saturation of refined sugary sweetness that reminds one of pop rocks, strawberries and cream candies, and cotton candy.
You find fruits of apple, pear, mango, peach, plum and apricot tangled with rose, jasmine, and lemongrass. The brightness grows slightly, but still reminds you of Meyer lemon.
The ending is very floral and sweet, still with tea-spice in the rear of each sip. It’s lightly buttery in body, with a dense sweetness and great fruit and floral infused honey lingering.
Espresso | Crossland CC1 | Bottomless triple basket | 19.6g in | 30g out | 0:02 preinfusion | 0:02 pause | 0:33 total time | 202 degrees | 12.3TDS | 19.62% Ext.
Really smooth, rich, surprisingly balanced sweetness with no puckering acidity on the front. Meyer lemon and berry sweetness, sort of reminds me of fruit punch leading into a lingering that makes me think of cinnamon apples or molasses cookie, a bit spiced like those herbal-tea notes I mentioned in previous makes. Finishes with a Pixy Stix ending- so a bit of tartness comes in and cuts through an otherwise sweetened sip.
This cup offered really neat development from the first sips to the end result, seeing those spice notes form those tea notes is a more interesting approach then to just feel a drop in the coffee and all of a sudden- lemon tea.
It is a refined sweetness and more developed acidity, I think giving nod to a carefully roasted bean to draw out some of it’s more interesting attributes, something I imagine other roasters may stay away from at the sake of being safe not to bring in too many herbal notes.
It has been an interesting Ethiopian compared to others I’ve had his year. Never before have I had one feel this real to eating these fruits, so fleshy and sweet, and that really makes it an intensified experience. It was flavorful, balanced, and really let you experience so many characteristics through the cup, shifting from sip to sip.
An excellent introduction to INDABA, and an excellent Ethiopian to add to my list.
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.