Brian Beyke

OQ Coffee Co - Ethiopia Nigusie Lemma Estate - Mistobox - July 2014

Brian Beyke

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After a quick stop in Maine for Connor and the gang to grab some lobster, they made the best of the coastal drive and swung into OQ Coffee.  

OQ Coffee Co. is a specialty coffee roasting company and shop located in Highland Park, New Jersey- a stone’s throw from Rutgers University, across the Raritan River.  They focus on unique and delicious, single origin coffees, sourced directly, craft-roasted, and brewed to perfection. We look for sustainability at origin and promote the same, here at home, in New Jersey.

Their passion for coffee grew out of two realizations:

  • High quality coffee is delicious; and

  • coffee has great potential to create community.

As such, they are not just a business roasting coffee; they are also a social enterprise with a passion to transform communities in New Jersey and communities around the world.  Today we visit a coffee that meets both of those realizations, today we take a look at the Nigusie Estate, Ethiopia.

Several years ago, an importer we work with sent a representative to Ethiopia on February 17, 2010 to bid in Ethiopia’s new Direct Specialty Trading platform.  Basically, nearly all of Ethiopia’s coffee now goes anonymously through the privately owned, government warehoused Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.  In response to specialty coffee growers in Ethiopia and buyers abroad, however, the ECX developed a way for high-quality coffees to be sold on auction in a traceable and transparent way, the DST.  In fact, all results of the auction are published online, including the name of the grower, the buyer, exporter, and final green bean price; the farmers who grew it are guaranteed 80% of that final sales price!

Unfortunately, the DST has not happened again.  Nevertheless, through the connections made with Nigusie at the DST, our importer was able to purchase the coffee directly.  In February of 2011, one of their team visited Ethiopia and met the whole family who produces Nigusie at their farm.  Lemma Edeto is the name of the owner who has been working in the coffee industry for 60 years.  Although his land was confiscated in the 1970’s, Lemma Edeto is running the first coffee farm to be established in their area, which he and his sons Nigusie and Haile are running at what is probably the highest elevation farm in the district.  The farm is covered by shade trees and grown without the use of chemicals (though not certified organic).  The farm has multiple, undocumented varietals of coffee trees and abundant springs that supply the farm with plenty of water.

Details:

Roaster: OQ Coffee Roasters

Region: Jimma, Limu, Ethiopia

Producer: Lemma Edeto

Process: Full Natural

Varietal: Ethiopian Heirloom

Elevation: 1,850 - 2,000m

 

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:15 total time | 198 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 20.55% Ext.

Tropical and floral aromas during the bloom, and berries during the brewing aroma.

So good!  Sweet and balanced, vibrant fruit notes. Now THAT’S a good natural Ethiopian!

You begin with poetically syrupy berry notes, dense and sweet with a slightly spiced finish.  It reminds me of a blueberry bagel initially, rolling right into a a bright lemon-lime-tangerine acidity that follows, and a palpably weighted (but not heavy) body, that rolls into a dusty cocoa finishing.

Those tropical and floral aromas don’t  leave the cup, only intensifying the experience of the cup for those that fire on all cylinders- a complete sensory pleasure cruise.  It collects flavors such as plum, guava, mango, and apricot along the way.  It also has a bit of banana mixed in with the berry, and normally I hate that note in coffee but it seems to sit well in this cup.  This is one of the softer cups I’ve had that I’d call velvety, but that body adjective fits it so perfectly.  It is clean, and provides this interesting herbal pops of basil, lemongrass, and pepper in the finish along with lingering florals and even a lychee note in the long finish I found in several washed Ethiopian selections I’ve had this year.  I can’t even stop myself from licking the very bottom drops of the mug, as they have such a buttery, sweet, tropical enjoyment like your favorite washed Yirgacheffe.

 

What an enjoyable cup

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 4:15 total time | 201 degrees | 1.45 TDS | 21.5o% Ext.

Tropical and berry aromas in the brewing aroma and the cup as well.  More blueberry on the nose.

Diving into the cup is perfumed, clean, with blueberry and icing starting the cup with floral and chocolate notes lingering.  While having an emphasis on the blueberry, it’s still rather tame compared to really out of balanced ones I’ve had before.

After the initial berry flavors you get a bright, sweet lemon acidity and also a low lying density of tropical fruit juices before transitioning into more of a chocolatey finish.  This cup still carries a weighted velvety mouthfeel, but a bit more weighted it seems than the previous make.

Despite this cup having higher TDS readings, about 10 minutes in there is a drop in the intensity of the cup, and the absolute best moments arrive.  The notes display great elegance, presented similarly to the washed counterpart of the region, with delicately complex herbal notes weaving around pops of blueberry, plum, apricot, mango, lychee, kiwi, grape, and a buttery sweet finish of florals and what seems like sprinkles of cinnamon.  This is another one of those ‘why didn’t I just let it cool before drinking it’ cups.  

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 199 degrees | 1.38 TDS | 20.60% Ext. (Immersion mode)

Great tropical, tea, berry, and floral aromatics in the brewing.

Berry cobbler aroma in the cup.

Diving in the cup is not much different from other preparations. It does feel slightly rich, which seems to give the blueberry front and chocolate low a bit of an emphasis here, but in the center you still have more tropical, stone fruit, berry, and floral sweetness. There really isn’t a natural processed Ethiopian that you’ll find more approachable than this one.  Juicy body, clean mouthfeel, clean and refreshing acidity.

I want to let this sit because I love the wait it tastes cooled down.  

It sill keeps this really elegant blueberry note present, but adds in some silky chocolate mousse along with pops of tropical fruits- mango and pineapple syrup with honey and floral notes whisking you away in the finish, slightly drying as well with hints of bourbon.  Mmmmm.

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Aromatics in the cup are outstanding.  Not only that, but this has been one of the most delicious natural ethiopian offerings I’ve ever laid my lips on.  While vibrant on the front, and still led by berry, you’ll find it much more controlled and balanced than some other offerings you may come across.  Too, you won’t be fighting or residing in that flavor the entire cup.  When the shift happens it is a beautiful thing, as if this cup embodies both a washed and a natural process and displays them both elegantly and deliciously.  Sweet, tropical, linger, luscious, this is a natural processed, correction, this is a coffee not to be missed.    

 

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.