Brian Beyke

Ruby Coffee Roasters - Ethiopia Konga

Brian Beyke

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Ruby Coffee Roasters pride themselves in bringing you colorful coffees.  I think part of what makes the colors of the coffees so vivid is how fresh they are.  It sounds silly, but I’m starting to recognize that there are roasters that carry coffees a bit further off harvest than others or for a long duration of time, while others (like Ruby) get fresh offerings in for a bit of time and then they are gone.  While this can be frustrating when you find a bag you love and then it is gone when you go to reorder (or say someone writes a review and then all of a sudden no one can find the offering), it guarantees the people who do get them have deliciously fresh and peak flavors.  When talking about flavor in terms of color- you get the most colorful.  It was also after diving into this new Ruby I realized some really interesting things about Ethiopian coffees I’ve tried this year- Yirgacheffe offerings to be specific.  We’ll talk about that in the wrap up but first, we have a new offering to explore.  Today, we are sitting down with another new crop Ethiopian offering from Yirgacheffe: Ethiopia Konga.  

The Konga Cooperative is one of 22 members of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union.  They boast approximately 2000 members, meaning there are 2000 farmers who distribute parchment coffee to the Coop.  Those farmers bring cherry to a local washing station close to their farm and it is processed there.  After drying, the parchment is collected and brought to Konga for collection and to be readied for export.

This and other cooperatives like it are exempt from the regulations of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange, which enables them to pursue better quality, and the premiums that come with it. 

Details:

Roaster: Ruby Coffee Roasters

Region: Yirgacheffe Borena in Gedeo

Farm: Small holders in the Konga Cooperative

Process: Fully washed and sun dried on raised beds

Varietal: Heirloom

Elevation: 1,875 - 2,050m

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:05 total time | 197 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 19.71% Ext.

Sweet berry aromas fill in the cup. 

To my surprise it was grape and plum sweetness welcomes you to the cup and then opens the door to a buttery and lingering sweet and silky body.  What a way to start the cup.   

Lime juice acidity, maybe a bit of orange zest too but really soft initially, quite balanced with the rest of the cup.  It really delivers in the fruit department.  Dense tropical fruit, stone fruit, and berry center with blackberry jam, passion fruit, cantaloupe, apricot, nectarine, and concord grape.  All the while, light flutters of jasmine and lavender tickle the palate and expand the enjoyment of the cup.  
It begins to sink in and everything really tightens up into a clean, transparent, gently crisp and immensely satisfying cup.  Sweet, softly brisk acidity now a bit more lemon-lime zest.  Still, blackberry sits in the cup a bit more prickly now while stone fruits of cherry, peach, and nectarine become more nectary in the center and surround it before a spreading of milk chocolate or nutella across the palate with drops of honey, a tea-like finish, and notes of citrus that linger long after the the cup is finished. 

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Brew Method:

Cold Brew (slow drip) | 45g © to 300g (w) |  200g ice | 6 hour total time | 2.13 TDS | 21.42% Ext.
Insanely juicy.  Almost like drinking fruit juice while chewing Juicy Fruit gum.  It has an interesting blue raspberry sucker sweetness on the front end, and a nice thick syrupy/caramel body that finishes with notes of dark chocolate. 
Grape juice, lemon-lime, strawberry, peaches and cream candies, cantaloupe.  Still seems to have some orange zest in the finish, but more like the afterthought of that as it remains juicy and near no acidity through the sips.  Sweet lemon is definitely there, so it’s starts to end like a ramped up and fruitied lemon iced tea, complimented with tootsie rolls. 
Bursts of clean fruits then a slick body makes this an intense, juicy, and sweet cold brew. 

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Brew Method:

Chemex | 20g © to 320g (w) | 3:05 total time | 197 degrees | 1.07 TDS | 15.80% Ext.
This method is super soft, but still attractive.  Carries more tea-like body and notes the whole way, light earl grey with a lightly crisp tropical intro to the cup, with honey and slight slight notes of chocolate.  Floral notes incredibly delicate, but still around and pleases the palate. 

Jasmine, honeysuckle, grape, apricot, plum, lightly brisk acidity, light body but rich. (as rich as it can be at this extraction)

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Brew Method:

Woodneck | 29.5g © to 476g (w) | 4:35 total time | 198 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 20.45% Ext.
A little more berry sweetness on the top of this one, still with grape and plum notes leading the way too.  Rich, dense, flavorful.  

After a few minutes the cup ‘settles in’ and becomes a little softer.  Orange-like acidity makes it’s way to the cup along with lime, still with a dense body of honey, whipped chocolate, and mixed fruits: cherry, nectarine, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry most prominent.  This make doesn’t seem as articulated as previous ones, and the floral notes not as lingering.  Still grows sweeter as the cup cools and some of those floral notes to arrive too.  Earl grey-like ending with still a hefty amount of chocolate in the finish.

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Brew Method:

Siphon | 30g © to 420g (w) | 1:15 pull heat - 3:00 total time  | 197 degrees | 1.38 TDS | 20.45% Ext. (Immersion mode) (preferred method)
A little more bergamot on the front end of this cup. Still presents itself juicy and dense, a little more tea-like but florally and bright in the finish too.
Digging further it all but explodes with fruit juciness.  Rich and immensely flavorful cantaloupe, lime, raspberry, passionfruit, kiwi, grape and peach with a chocolate strand lined through the finish.  Little droplets of honey seem to exist in each sip, drawing out more citrus and tropical fruit as it cools. 
It seems to draw out more florals in the sweetness as I get toward the end of the cup.  A softer and more flowy mixture of berry, stone and tropical fruits still tantalizing my taste buds and offering something new in it’s complexity sip after sip.  Beautifully balanced, comfortable in mouthfeel, and utterly enjoyable from beginning to end.  A beautiful cup. 
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Brew Method:

Able Kone | 30g © to 435g (w) | 3:35 total time | 198 degrees | 1.31 TDS | 20.10% Ext. 
Lightly syrupy intro to the cup with a primary flavor of warm cinnamon.  
Seems to highlight the currant a little more in this method, as well as date, blackberry compote, apricot, plum and maybe nods of grape in the end.  
Light dances of cranberry and raspberry too make their way in the front, but the richness of the cup seems to weight the notes too much to really sing.  Some weighty peach also seems to make it’s way in the cup.   
I sense some citrus in there- grapefruit, orange, maybe lime.  There is also a bit of a drying chocolate similar to cocoa powder in the finish.  Notes of cherry emerge with a bit more syrupy body growing, but again it’s just so rich that it’s hard to really indulge in nuances. 
If you like a rich cup with notes of stone fruit, bergamot, and some dusty floral finishings this is your cup right here. 
The coolest moments are the best as it gets comfortably syrupy, a bit more juicy, has a pleasing berry flavor in the front, a bit of a brisk acidity, and a rich stone fruit and floral infused honey finishing, still with chocolate notes lingering. 
Dense fruits, juicy, lingering citrus.  
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Already in 2014 I’ve had some incredible washed Ethiopian offerings, and the Konga certainly follows suit.  One of the most fascinating things I’ve noticed through the exploration is that you can’t just dismiss a “Yirgacheffe” coffee as “just being a Yirgacheffe” anymore.  It first started with Borboya, a coffee that definitely fits the profile considered “classic Yirgacheffe.”  When I say that, I tend to find a bright cup, playful fruit sweetness, and a tea-like finish.  Chele’lektu came next- a profile that really can be showcased quite differently depending on method and age but more often than not had a delicate, soft profile that seemed borderline gesha with it’s floral aromatics and flavor in the cup.  Then, I got a taste of Aramo Woreda.  It was similar to Borboya, but where Borboya is that “classic” bright, playful, stone fruit, tea-like profile, Aramo Woreda was that intensified.  It brought tropical fruits along with the stone fruit, a lot of juiciness but also fun moments.  That brings us to Konga.
Konga is the most rich, most dense, most juicy of all of these coffees.  It still carries the Earl Grey-like finishings, and it even carries similar notes through the cup, but it just holds so much density- a bit more weight and still a completely delicious presentation of Yirgacheffe.  If you are one for a bit more body- this is that Yirgacheffe for you.  If you like a nice “settled in” cup but also want some sweetness- this is that Yirgacheffe for you.  Overall, it may come across more syrupy in the cup, a bit more dynamic in terms of intensity, and comfortably rich in flavor, but that is what makes it stand out from what you call “typical Yirgacheffe.”
Ethiopia, and Yirgacheffe specifically, is consistently pleasing the palate around these parts constantly showing me something new about the region- the region I just don’t tire of.  

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.