Brian Beyke

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Sidama Ethiopia

Brian Beyke
Kickapoo Coffee Roasters - Sidama Ethiopia
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If you’ve noticed by now, you may be thinking, “Man…those Kickapoo Coffee tins look really sharp.”  If you have been, you’d be correct.  Designed by Neal Olson, these tins are incredibly awesome, a welcomed change from the typical bags we see these days, and they do more than just promote a local graphics designer.  Being from the Midwest (and owning it), Kickapoo loves keeping with the Midwest aesthetics and the rural feel.  These tins are one way they can not only be sustainable (read 100% recyclable and easily reused), but also gives a throwback to the Midwest.

Plastic packaging is one of the major environmental costs of the coffee industry. At Kickapoo Coffee, they strive to eliminate plastic from their operations. All of their prepackaged coffee is sold in reusable, recyclable steel cans containing 80 percent post-consumer recycled steel. Their one-pound bags feature a biodegradable glycine liner, and they package the majority of their bulk five-pound bags in biodegradable kraft bags.

Let’s open our can of Ethiopia Sidama Fero and see what’s inside.

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and the Sidama Union of Growers, comprising of 80,000 individual farmers, put the region’s traditional knowledge into practice through nearly 50 regional base co-ops.

Kickapoo has tasted coffee from many of these groups, but over time have zeroed in on the Fero Cooperative. Their coffee shines due to their particular locale, which is vaulted high in the mountains above the Rift Valley at nearly 2,000 meters. This impressive elevation causes the coffee cherries to mature slowly, developing a physically dense bean, filled with nuanced and complex flavors.

Kickapoo also loves the fact that Fero uses washed processing: immediately after harvest, the pulp of the coffee cherry fruit is removed by milling. After that, the bean is fermented, washed and then dried on raised beds. Washed processing results in a cleaner, brighter, more consistent coffee.

In a business that spans oceans and continents, relationships are important. This is their fourth year in a row working with the Fero Cooperative, and they couldn’t be more excited by the commitment to quality they’ve seen with this group of dedicated farmers.

Details:

Roaster: Kickapoo Coffee Roasters

Region: Sidama, Southern Ethiopia

Farm: Fero Cooperative

Process: Washed

Varietal: Heirloom Varieties

Elevation: 1,900 - 2,010m

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 24g © to 350g (w) | 2:45 total time | 200 degrees | 1.40 TDS | 18.65% Ext.

It carries a juicy intro. A bit drying in mouthfeel with notes of raspberry, cherry, and a  smooth, slightly nutty (almond or pistachio) finish.

Splashy pops of sweet fruits jump on the tongue with each sip, lightly saturating, with apple, pear, peach, and strawberry and carrying sweet vanilla and a dash of honey in the trails.

Oh wow, not a few minutes later those notes get even sweeter, more candy-like in the cup, with citrus notes of lemon and orange adding some brightness before a flavor filled finish with slight tea-like tendencies.

While it carries a layered sweetness (grape, raspberry, and strawberry most note able) growing a bit buttery through cooling, it still always keeps tickles of those tea-like spices (and nods to dried fruits) and always ends the lingering almond-like but carrying shifty drifts of fruits that go on and on.

Gosh, it just keeps changing and changing. Creamy body and the fruits grow sweeter again.  Berries and more of a lemon and lime citrus note like a more classic Yirgacheffe profile.

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 482g (w) | 4:20 total time | 200 degrees | 1.29 TDS | 19.18% Ext.

Really nice brewing aroma.  

Lighter presentation than previous make.  Soft and sweet berry fruits on the front with soft cream, caramel, apple, and chocolate notes in the finish.  Elements of it remind me of green apple jolly ranchers, ultimately ending with a slightly drying finish.  

It is soft, but feels a bit dense as well.  Candy-sweet fruit notes begin to radiate as it cools- raspberry, cherry, apple, dried kiwi, and strawberry. If you were to Inception it even deeper you may find notes of red currant, orange creamsicle, and peaches and cream. Still, it sits lightly splashy and plush in the mouth, and ends with a slightly almond finish and even nips of tea-like tendencies and drifts of dried fruits arriving in the long finish.  

Brightness is a lot more reserved in this method. Candied lemon and lime may be present, but more highlighting of those sweet candy-like fruits.  It grows more and more creamy- touched with peach, apricot, honey, vanilla, and raspberry, and stays like that for the remainder of the cup.

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Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:55 total time | 202 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 20.00% Ext.

Mmm. This coffee.  At it’s hottest moments it does have a bit of a nutty drying to it, and cherry liqueur may come to mind, but it is also too hot for me to give accurate description.

Cooling a bit, you find lovely floral notes, similarly to the Idido in fact.  There are raspberry and strawberry notes there, not too sweet yet, still met with some cream in the finish leaving a slightly almond drying.

Further, you find a subtle, sweet, and juicy cup.  There is a nice brightness on the front, more lime than lemon but balanced in the cup, with more dense fruits softly saturating and a crisp but slowly juicy finish.

Cherry, apple, raspberry, swirl in the middle, with softer orange notes lingering in the finish, slightly drying but sweetly carrying on.  The more it opens the more vibrant the front is, like a honey crisp apple, with a balanced body and slight syrupiness growing in the finish.

Clean raspberry and chess pie are reminiscent in the final sips, smooth drying with cherry, juicy saturation, light chocolate notes and slight malting. 

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 201 degrees | 1.32 TDS | 19.75% Ext. (Immersion mode)

This method, while floral forward, seems to allow a sparkling lemon acidity intro the cup with notes of cherry and raspberry sweetening the cup before a smooth, slightly nutty finish.

As it opens it remains crisp and vibrant, floral led with hints of bergamot joining with the lemon acidity to brighten the juicy body that now tastes a bit more similar to Juicy Fruit chewing gum, saturated with flavor: peach, cantaloupe, apricot, raspberry, apple, and cherry with tea-like characteristics developing.  It’s silky as it glides across the mouth, luscious and beautiful.

It grows more creamy and lingering, but stays on those floral notes with complex and lightly sugary fruits melting into the background as it finishes with a honey coated, tea-like dream.

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What a flavorful cup of coffee.  Compared to the Idido, this offering gives up more juiciness, more saturation to the palate, with a bit more noticeable citrus as well.  Also, there was a lot of shifting flavors through the cooling process, with a lot of sweetness to be had.  If you are anything like me, profiles like that are always fun cups to have around when you are sipping, be it while you work, listen to music, read, or catch up with a friend over a good cup.  It also seems that this was a contender for Good Food Awards last year as well, and I can definitely see why.  While the Idido might have carried more subtlety, more delicacy or elegance, the Sidama (while equally enjoyable) splashes on the palate and gives you layer upon layer to unravel.   

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.