I had the privilege to guest blog on Drew Moody’s ‘Corner of the Cafe’ blog this week. You can find the link to that post here, but below is that review.
There is nothing I like to see more than a community coming together for a cause - in this case the coffee community. Restore Coffee is a collaborative offering in the coffee scene here in the Northern Kentucky - Cincinnati Ohio area with one purpose: The restoration of Rhett Harkins.
Rhett Harkins is the manager of local shop BLOC Coffee Company. As well as being a specialty coffee shop, BLOC runs a ministry that lives and works in under-served communities to offer positive choices, build relationships, and strengthen students, families and communities in consistent, stable, personal and long-term ways.
On December 14th of 2013, Harkins fell 60 feet from a cliff while hiking in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. From a several hour rescue to several broken bones, several surgeries to several medical bills, Harkins is alive and back serving at BLOC.
Roaster Justin Carabello of Carabello Coffee in Newport, Kentucky reached out to several shops in the area and the outcome is Restore Coffee - Sumatra Wahana Natural being sold by the bag and by the cup through the month of February and March - proceeds going to the Harkins family.
Not only does it aid the cause, but its an opportunity to try a rather unique natural processed Sumatra.
Roaster: Carabello Coffee
Producer: Wahana Coffee Estate Plantation
Region: Sidikalang Sumatra
Process: Sun dried natural
V60 | 28g © to 380g (w) | 3:05 total time | 200 degrees
In the dry aroma I’m catching strawberry cream pie and lemon cream pie.
Wet aroma I find strawberry, herbal elements, peppers, a little vegetal.
The cup itself smells of strawberry and blueberry.
First sips of this coffee are really wild. Heavily aromatic with strawberry and blueberry but with an incredibly dark note that seems to live in the rear of the tongue - cocoa, or even licorice maybe? Don’t get me wrong though, this is still a Sumatran coffee.
Amidst any berry sweetness you detect is still a presence of herbs and bell pepper. Medium bodied - buttery mouthfeel.
I would want to say a grapefruit acidity but it is masked with those dark notes I mentioned earlier. Still seems to be a decently bright coffee.
After your initial sips of sweetness it starts to dry into the earthiness you may know of in Sumatran coffees, but then it finishes again with a cream like sweetness.
Raspberries and cranberries seem to jump into the cup mid way, along with some more detectible floral elements, watermelon even seems to be along for the ride.
It finishes still rather smooth and buttery, drying into a fruit and tobacco aftertaste.
Fruitied, buttery, herbal.
Chemex | 30g © to 450g (w) | 6:00 total time | 203 degrees
Certain warm brewing spice that I can’t exactly pull out but very interesting.
Cup smells faintly of strawberry candies.
A lot more smooth of a cup, with a more balanced acidity.
Fruit notes don’t stand out as much, it’s more melded together. Still has a cocoa taste, but not as dark. It seems a little more bland initially.
As the cup cools a bit more, the fruit does start to rise up. Tart berries with a powdery drying mouthfeel but growing a more dense and syrupy body. Cherry, blueberry, raspberry, but something reminds me of a vanilla custard sweetness among some spices reminiscent of your typical Sumatran. Don’t be mistaken though - this isn’t your typical Sumatra.
Less earthy elements stand out, similarly to how the fruit doesn’t necessarily stand out. More of a creamy, chocolately caramel or honey coat finish with some earthiness.
Berry, syrupy, earthy.
Woodneck | 34g © to 484g (w) | 4:47 total time | 202 degrees (preferred method)
This was a lot brighter than other methods. Nice and dense out front with strawberry sweetness and the darkness of honey and molasses that was present in the V60.
As it cools, the berry mellows out and chocolate develops a little more. It still has a drying mouthfeel but not as much as the V60. Once that dryness hits you get some slight hint of the herbal notes, but before that the profile reminds me interestingly enough like an Ethiopia and Kenya hybrid. I don’t mean starting out like a Kenyan and finishing like a Ethiopian, but it has the fruitiness like an Ethiopian coffee and at the same time the body and acidity similar to a Kenyan coffee.
As it sits it is getting creamier and sweeter, and a little juicier.
Bright, sweet, creamy.
French Press | 30g © to 506g (w) | 4:00 total time | 202 degrees
Cup smells of strawberries and apples. A little bit of caramel, and still has some earthiness.
The first sips are much more earthy here, as I expected from getting into immersion methods.
Crisp peppers and banana seem to be there along with wet tobacco. Strawberry is still there similarly to other methods. Acidity is still there in the front of the mouth.
Richer or more full bodied than other methods, but what it gets in big body it loses in complete mouthfeel. There isn’t much detection of being wide or deep. There is more of a soil characteristic that jumps out mid cup.
It hits strong, but the fruitiness helps it to not be too overpowering. It is still heavily fragranced which is inviting - but the smell isn’t entire indicative of how the cup taste.
I’d say this method highlights the cup as a Sumatra the best.
Full bodied, fruity, earthy.
Kalita Wave | 40g © to 552g (w) | 3:43 total time | 203 degrees
Dry aroma of sweet pepper jelly - red and green peppers, and strawberry.
This profile was very similar to the V60. Blueberry, banana, and strawberry fruits show up in the initial sips.
There is a dark note there - still seems like licorice. It is still very peppery, with herbal elements.
It sweetens as it cools, but it never loses the herbal and earthy notes.
Fruitied, buttery, herbal.
Siphon | 30g © to 420g (w) | 1:10 pull heat - 3:00 total time | 200 degrees (best method)
I added a ‘best method’ to my typical recommendation method for this coffee. This offering is such a rarity that while I personally enjoyed the profile I found on the woodneck, I would say this preparing highlighted overall the coffee the best.
The cup opens up as a well crafted herbal elixir, and pleasantly so. There is still a fruit note I would say is banana, but it is more subtle here.
Very clean, juniper berry sweetness, low acidity.
There is a peppery taste to the cup and a little spice in the end. Overall, you will notice right away the cup is incredibly complex - probably one of the most complex coffees I’ve ever had. There is a warm rustic and wooded finish to the cup that is both intriguing and inviting.
As it cools, stone fruit and strawberry emerge from the cup afloat the most pleasing earthy and herbal Sumatran bed I’ve ever had.
This is definitely the most pleasing immersion method of this coffee I prepared. I mean seriously, it delivered. I would go so far as to say it changed the way I view Sumatran coffee in the specialty coffee world.
Complex, wooded, fruity, herbal.
Clean, spicy, fruity, floral, balanced, medium bodied, earthy, syrupy… this cup really is unique, but it packs it all. It isn’t your average cup of coffee, and it isn’t your average Sumatra. Wahana Natural is a coffee that should be appreciated by any coffee drinker to some degree with it’s ability to hit nearly every sensory element of your pallet. Never before have I had a coffee that straddled the lines of all these elements like this coffee has.
If you are interested at all in the coffee, you can buy a bag and support Rhett Harkins at http://www.carabellocoffee.com/products/restore-coffee-sumatra-natural-wahana
If you would like to donate to Rhett aside from the coffee, visit http://blochead.org/, click Donate, and put ‘Restore Rhett’ in the instructions.
Grind + Brew = Give
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.