Founded in early 2013 by Kevin Betts and Ryan Smith, Novel Coffee Roasters was born in Dallas, TX out of the desire to share profound taste experiences with our community. Aside from having a very recognizable brand and aesthetically stellar logo and the tag line “Every Coffee Has A Story”, the duo knows that every seed is cultivated, harvested, processed, traded, shipped, roasted, and prepared before it reaches your cup. It is then their goal that every person involved in this process is treated fairly and rewarded for their work. All this is evident as we dive into the first offering we have of theirs, their Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe Gedeo Konga.
In the Konga micro region of Yirgacheffe, hundreds of smallholder farmers cultivate coffee in small backyard plots. Heirloom varieties perfectly adapted to the environment ripen slowly at altitudes reaching above 2000 meters. Under these circumstances, amazingly sweet coffee is almost a given, but the mill that produces our coffee doesn’t stop there. Teams of nimble-fingered workers are paid to sort the coffee in small batches with the goal of achieving a flawless coffee.
Roaster: Novel Coffee Roasters
Region: Konga, Yirgacheffe, Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia
Producer: Multiple smallholders
Process: Fully washed and dried on raised beds, then hand-sorted to Keffa YirgZ standards
Varietal: Ethiopia Heirloom
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,200m
Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:45 total time | 205 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.00% Ext. (preferred method)
The aromas in the brewing process as well as the chemex after brewing both come to the same conclusion: I’m going to thoroughly enjoy this coffee. Notes of florals, berry, and tropical fruits.
Diving in is familiar to what I gathered during my write up of Ruby’s. The Konga offering of Yirgacheffe begins a bit more dense, more saturated from the get go. In that, I find the same honey kissed floral notes that I’ve come to love from the region, along with green tea, bergamot, vanilla bean, mango, and grilled peach. The finish is buttery and gives nods to spice as well.
If you allow more that just a few minutes to cool before diving in, your entry point will instead begin much more clear, with those floral notes front and center. The body sits dense and syrupy, more settled in that the very first moments, yet it dances around in your mouth so elegantly as if dressed in silk.
The cleanup is sweet like a buttercream icing, still carrying passion fruit, mango, apricot and peach, and lavender. All the while there are these soft underlying complexities of herbal notes, dark chocolate, and caramel that continuously tease the palate. What is so fun about it, is there is a point in the mouth where the notes find their intensity, and then quickly sail away. Like the in and out of the tide at sunset. Beautiful and tranquil.
It cools so lusciously. Delicate florals, sweet fruit nectar, and a lingering creamy finish. Such a clean sweetness and finish, laden with flavor, almost as if caramel was dropping down the center of my tongue.
Gino Dripper | 30.5g © to 481g (w) | 3:25 total time | 201 degrees | 1.30 TDS | 18.90% Ext.
Aroma is floral, tropical, sweet.
First sips come to those same conclusions: honey, tropical, floral. This make is a bit more fluttery I feel like, but something in the rear of the notes, be it chocolate or something else slightly noticeable prevents full clarity. Still, this profile is beautiful, soft, sweet, and so inviting.
Raspberry, bergamot, and mango, and apricot are your introductory fruit flavors, a bit bright on the front before some herbal-tea notes take over and carry you to the finish. You find that passionfruit and grilled peach in the end if each sips, along with whiffs of dark chocolate. The cup doesn’t seem quite as sweet as the previous make, which can be favorable or not. There is a splashy juiciness as you begin the sips, and rose, honeysuckle, and lavender lingerings on the finish. In the middle the fruit notes are softly dense with a nice saturation.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 200 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.30% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Dry aroma of lemon, lime, and raspberry candies, floral, honey.
Wet aroma of floral, leather, lime and dried kiwi, herbal.
Nose is sweet. Floral, peach, cherry.
Similar profile in the cup. You have that lemon and lime brightness welcome you to the cup and then lead you through a field of florals. The mouthfeel is delicately rich, clean, with herbal complexity taking place in the finish.
As the cup opens it remains rich but presents delicate and silky jasmine, rose, and honeysuckle notes with lightly splashy pops of apricot, mango, and peach underneath, tangling with a creamy finish and lingering notes reminiscent of dried earth.
Through a lot of the cup you find those florals, but now about 105 degrees you get an emphasis of those fruit notes as juicy peach, apricot, passion fruit, and mango mingle with grape candy, lavender sweetness, and then finishing a bit more noticeably tea-like (in flavor, this is no way a light tea-like ending). It remains complex, dense, and comfortably rich with notes of vanilla, honey, and chocolate also present in the final sips.
Man, this is so delicious. Where the Gino didn’t seem to present the sweetness that the Chemex did, this cup delivers a sweet, controlled, saturated in flavor cup that brings me back to that euphoria that is 2014 washed Ethiopian coffees.
V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:00 total time | 200 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.40% Ext.
First sips are dense and sweet, layered with honey, lemon, and lime coatings, with floral notes filing close behind with a nice buttery syrupiness and chocolate notes filling in the back with an bergamot, orange citrus lingering long after the finish.
Cooling a bit lets that saturation sink in, and the flavors become a little more complex. Clean hints of white grape, and a little lychee on the front end with a pop of raspberry, lightly grilled peach, mango, and pineapple nectar in the middle, while it ends creamy and still with some elements of spice, a touch of grapefruit, and maybe a bit of guava.
Strands of caramel seems to run down the center of the tongue in cooler moments, along with grape candy, black tea, lavender, chocolate, and stone fruit juices.
This was such an enjoyable Yirgacheffe offering. In the many I’ve had this year, there have been some that have been so clean, so juicy and flavorful, so lingering and mesmerizing that it’s hard to think you could ever get sick of the profile. This Gedeo Konga would definitely fit in that category. I will say, after having the kalita wave make, which happened to be the lower extraction make, I almost decided I was done with washed Ethiopians for the year. I’m glad that the other makes turned that around for me, because this coffee and several other washed Ethiopian offerings are very well prepared this year, just dripping with flavor for you to enjoy. I only bring up the point of the kalita wave because I feel there is a window right around the 20% extraction mark I was getting with this coffee that just radiates it’s sweetness, balance, and uninterrupted pleasure. If you still haven’t had a solid washed Yirgacheffe this year, this one will do you no wrong. Great clarity, and packed with a story to tell.
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.