Brian Beyke

Supersonic Coffee Co. - Wote, Ethiopia

Brian Beyke

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There has been quite a stir about upcoming Berkeley, CA roasters Supersonic Coffee Company.  I saw aesthetically pleasing tube samples from them in SCAA reports, saw Alpha Dominche brewing their coffees up, and most recently a lot of buzz surrounding their co-pilot program that gave 10 shops across the US the ability to serve and sell their coffee for the next two month before their public launch.  There’s also quite the chatter on social media about them, and a lot of talk among the coffee professionals as well.  As much can be expected though, with the names of those affiliated as well as having Nordic Approach be among the importers they will be receiving green from.  I was lucky enough to get a peek behind a few of their samples, the first of which we’ll look at is their Wote, Ethiopia.  

Supersonic Coffee is a new roasting and retail brand based in Berkeley, California. Operating under the direction of Managing Director John Laird, formerly of Verve Coffee Roasters and Pacific Bay Coffee, Supersonic has assembled an opening team of collaborators well-known by ardent followers of quality coffee culture. They include: Bjorg Brend Laird, former organizer of the Nordic Barista Cup; Jay Lijewski, formerly of Handsome Coffee Roasters, Four Barrel Coffee, and Dillanos Coffee; Lizz Hudson Smith, formerly of Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Jeff Garcia, formerly of Verve Coffee Roasters and Duende; and Brian W. Jones, noted coffee brand design specialist and the founder and editor of “Dear Coffee I Love You“, a popular design and coffee culture publication.  - Sprudge

 

Wote is a private wet mill in Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia. The coffee is grown in the micro region Gedeo in Yigracheffe, known for having some of the most complex and intense flavours in Yirgacheffe. The cherries are then processed at Wote by the producer Mr. Mergya and his around 100 employees. By the process station the river Wote runs and is the natural water source to the process station.

The coffee is delivered to Wote from smallholders in the surrounding area, as well as remote farmers, where the coffee is growing at an altitude ranging from 1800 to 2000 m.a.s.l. Mr. Mergya has spent the last years to improve the preparation and processing of the coffees to meet the quality standards of the high end coffee market. Improvements has been  done to increase the knowledge in drying methods and careful sorting.

Since coffee grows in the wild in Ethiopia, improved varieties and native coffee of forest origin is transferred into the smallholder’s gardens, meaning that we find no less than 26 varieties of coffee in our cup of Wote. All varietes go under the generic Ethiopian Heirloom, in this case Yirgacheffe type.

 

Details:

Roaster: Supersonic Coffee Co.

Region: Wote, Gedeo, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Producer: 600 Smallholders

Process: Washed

Varietal: Ethiopian Heirloom

Elevation: 1,800 - 2,000m



Brew Method:

Chemex | 36g © to 540g (w) | 4:00 total time | 207 degrees | 1.42 TDS | 19.54% Ext.

Diving into this too quick will open up to notes of chocolate, best to let this sit a bit.

Opening a bit more some buttery juiciness comes out.  Notes of apricot, slight notes of apple, and a mouthfeel and acidity like lemonade.  It carries a dense and creamy finish, sweet, a bit floral, and complex.

The end cup is much lighter, sweeter, but still dense in it’s sweetness.  Splashy citrus notes, a bit of stone fruit sweetness, and a creamy finish with a bit of black tea.

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Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:45 total time | 205 degrees | 1.38 TDS | 20.75% Ext.

There is still a richer entry to the cup than I expected there would be, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong or if this is just the coffee.

It has some really soft and clean fruit notes on the front once cooled down, berries and cream, sweet lemon, apricot.  It sits balanced and delicately dense, with little herbal tea-like complexities in the middle before a plush creamy finish, slight notes of chocolate as well as a lemon black tea astringency.

As it cools the cup becomes really pleasing.  Soft floral notes arrive in the cup, still with a clean lemon fronted cup, quickly opening to other clean fruit notes and carried into a creamy finish.

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 200 degrees | 1.41 TDS | 21.10% Ext. (Immersion mode) (preferred method)

Dry aroma of strawberry lillet, candy necklaces, wood, lemon.

Nose of toasted marshmallow, floral, lemon, lime, berries.

The first sips are richly delicate, with a clean strawberry/raspberry lemonade acidity moving into a dense berry body with honey and a bit more medicinal notes like those decongestant rubs you put on your chest, ending with a slight tea-like astringency.

Crisp and complexly sweet, it definitely gives the palate a workout of flavor it is receiving, from it’s bright intro to it’s slightly drying finish.  The floral really starts to sing as the cup cools, but so does that bright, bright lemon acidity on the front end.  Underneath that, if you put on your shades, you may notice vanilla bean, peach, and apricot exist as well.

It’s a really unique cup, honestly.  At the stage I am at (~100 degrees), it gives me similar floral notes that you may find with the Chelelectu, other Kongas, or Aricha, but it carries this intense brightness of citrus that is more prominent than the other coffees.  With that, it also has a pleasing honey coating finish with sweet fruits alongside.  Either way, it is transparent and lively and showcased differently in this make than I’ve gotten in filter brews thus far.

The final moments are incredibly delicious.  A more controlled brightness on the front, honey, caramel, slowly seeping out of the mug and covering the palate. Inside, sugary fruit notes, florals, and lighter bits of peppercorn interwoven, with a lingering citrus aftertaste.

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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:15 total time | 200 degrees | 1.41 TDS | 21.15% Ext.

Floral through the bloom and on the nose, really sweet, fruitied.

First sips are really crisp and bright, like lemon sorbet, mango and pineapple nectary sweetness, and a rock candy and chocolate finish with spreading floral finishings.

On continued slurps you can notice herbals underneath and black-tea astringency.  

Not but two minutes later and the cup drops, and that sweetness falls more cohesive to the cup while the florals and herbals now take center stage.  Delicate, complex, vivid, saturated, splashy on the front of the sips then silky through the rest of the mouth into a drying but lingeringly sweet and a bit spiced finish.

Berry sweetness begins to grow in the cup, lessening the attack of that lemon brightness and replenishing the sips with a bit of soft juiciness.

As the cup becomes softer, more controlled, the florals continue to grow and dance in the cup, as peach, cream, lychee, candied lime all arrive and play around on your palate.

The final sips are so incredibly pleasing.  Big juicy pops of fruit, lemon acidity, and lingering sweetness with tootsie-roll undertones, and citrusy aftertaste that lingers on.

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I enjoyed this coffee, but it seemed a bit tricky to dial in.  Maybe that isn’t it at all, and maybe I just started digging into it before it really began to open up.  At first I thought the coffee was just offering more of the “classic yirgacheffe” profile, as it had that bright lemon citrus in the cup with tea-like astringency in the finish.  It was fruited, complex, and decently clean.  However, the later makes I had of it, makes that were more than a week off roast, opened to a bit more floral characteristics.  The aeropress make of this about eight days off roast was really hitting it for me, and the V60 even past two weeks seemed to blur the lines a bit more about which offering exactly this was, the Wote or the Chelelectu.  It wasn’t until brewing the Chelelectu up again could I see what made that offering stand out, but we’ll get there in the next review.  With a little room to open up, this coffee is floral, clean, sweet, and lingering on similarly to a lot of really, really tasty washed Ethiopians to come through these parts.  A good start to my Supersonic impressions.  

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.