Just a little over a month ago we sat down with the debut of Terminus Coffee, the micro-roasting operation that grew from our very loved friends in Tacoma, WA: The Puristas. What has always been so alluring about this duo is their pursuit of relationship through their journey in coffee. In one moment one can easily head to Purista’s site and read their poetic cup-by-cup experience with a roaster’s offering, much like here, Corner of the Cafe, or The Coffee Adventures, or one can follow Mae’s progression with latte art on their Instagram account, or even get more intimate with the inner workings of Terminus through their Twitter feed.
From early on I had been looking forward to sitting down with this coffee. I already had high expectations, seeing as the Populace Aricha was such an outstanding and memorable coffee for me. However, I know that David has been working to dial these coffees into something quite unique and impressive for what some might still deem as a “home roasted operation.” Rocking a Huky 500, Terminus Coffee comes out of the tunnel speeding and showing you exactly how delicious exceptionally prepared and sourced coffees can taste, and quickly setting themselves up to be among some of the most respected and appreciate roasters to drink from. Let’s dive into the lovely Ethiopia, Aricha.
Aricha is located 8km North West of Yirgacheffe. This is a new washing station Cafe Imports is working with this year. One of the great things about Ethiopian coffees is the complete mix of varietals. It is estimated that somewhere between six thousand and ten thousand varietals exist naturally in these highlands, the origin of coffee.
This coffee comes from a mill in the Gedeo Zone, west of the town of Yirgacheffe. The mill is called Kerbal Aricha and is owned by Surafel Birhanu, and is supplied by around 650 - 750 small holder farmers (mainly garden growers), who produce around 5 containers of specialty coffee a year, and around 10 commercial grade. The varietals are anyone’s guess, but seem to be mainly made up from Typica and various other heirloom varietals. This is what you get in Ethiopia: lots of small growers with lots of different mutations and variations of plants, and little interest in separating and finding out what’s what.
Ripe cherries are delivered to the mill where here they are graded, sorted, de-pulped, and then fermented underwater for between 36 and 48 hours, depending on temperature and other factors. Parchment is then sorted in washing channels, and then placed onto raised African drying tables. The drying period generally lasts for up to 2-3 weeks, until the moisture level reaches 12% or lower. The beans are then transported in parchment to the ECX warehouse in Awassa, then dry-milled to remove the parchment prior to shipping.
Roaster: Terminus Coffee
Region: Yirgacheffe, Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia
Farm: Small Holders
Process: Fully Washed and Sundried on Raised Beds
Varietal: Various Ethiopian Heirloom Varietals
Elevation: 1,800 - 2,000m
Kalita Wave | 34g © to 552g (w) | 3:50 total time | 202 degrees | 1.37 TDS | 20.60% Ext.
Wonderful floral aromatics through the bloom and brewing process, opening to honey, berries, stone and tropical fruits as the nose sits on the carafe.
First sips on the cup are clean, honeyed, and carry a lighter floral and herbal touch than some others we have encountered. It is very silky as it moves around the mouth with insane transparency, peach, apricot, raspberry, and banana making sweetness touches but not fully appearing in the cup.
Elements of cinnamon and brown sugar exist in the cup, but they mainly dance around lemongrass, rose, dried lavender, lime, peach and raspberry.
The aromas continue to tantalize the senses as you dive further into the cup- delicate, complex, and now introducing a lightly whipped chocolate malt finish that mingles with the florals.
Much more vibrant in the end of the cup. Fruity, sweet, chocolatey, yum.
V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:25 total time | 203 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 20.00% Ext.
Great aroma in the brewing and front if the cup. Berries, tropical and stone fruits, floral.
First sips are a bit more perfumed than the previous make. There are still floral in the initial impressions, but it also goes right into a peach iced tea flavor softness, with a finish that at moments seems a bit spiced like cinnamon bit also carries dried fruit play like prune. Apricot, mango, green tea, cane sugar, lemon, medjool date all stir around in the slurps and front of the cup, with more flowery and tea-like flavors coming out in the end, along with a hint of raspberry sweetness in a dry but lingering finish.
It continues tangled in those florals- lavender, hibiscus, rose, jasmine and herbal notes, caramel sweetness oozing out from the center and surrounded by a complexity of fruit pops, peach, apricot, mango, cantaloupe, date, kiwi, orange, lemon, lime.
The very last sips (this is an hour off brew) give this large, bright intensity to the fruit notes, caramel, honey, bold floral notes and candied-fruits.
Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:40 total time | 205 degrees | 1.33 TDS | 19.70% Ext.
Clean, grassy meets herbal, floral, lightly sweet tropical and berry. Slick mouthfeel with a creamy finish.
There is a really nice lemon acidity that sits on the center if the tongue. Perfumed, sweet, mango, apricot, and peach while the finish allows complex flavors such as lemongrass, peppercorn, butter, basil, and cream.
As it cools you find wonderful nectary fruitiness, vibrant raspberry and mango now adding a delicious coconut cream pie to the creamy sweet finish it brings. Lavender too joins the ranks, being most notable in the lingering finish, lined with honey and leading to a sweet, delicious ending.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 202 degrees | 1.41 TDS | 21.05% Ext. (Immersion mode) (preferred method)
The richness of the cup comes across a bit more like carbonated water with the combination of those green, herbal elements.
Cooling, it introduces raspberry, peach honey, and to a lesser extent cotton candy sweetness, with cream and caramel showing up in the finish.
It’s clean as you let it grow cooler, with a lower amount of citrus (lemon) on the tongue than previous makes and less floral in the cup. Instead, it rides on a creamier vanilla and caramel play. Whole those florals are less pronounced in the cup, they are still excellently executed, and to be honest, a nice break from the previous brews to allow other elements to shine a bit more.
Finally sips are vanilla, lavender, and peach honey. Quite a unique make from the filter brews.
Espresso | Crossland CC1 | Bottomless triple basket | 21g in | 22g out | 0:42 total time | 201 degrees
I wanted to see what this long shot would offer for the espresso, just experimenting.
Creamy citrus starting. Tangerine initially, raspberry, then a raw honey body and juicy watermelon finishing. As it cools it keeps more watermelon sweetness, with a green apple bite. Even longer it really lets it mellow out, florals begin to grow from the bottom, a bit quiet, but it keeps a melted snickers bar sweetness to it.
I visited a lot of washed Ethiopians this year, but I don’t think that means I lump them all the same. In fact, I think that means I look at them closer. I’m learning that these coffees actually carry small yet drastic differences. What are the subtle differences, what comes off more buttery in body verses silky, cleaner in presentation, more lingering fruit notes or more layered in their flavor.
The Terminus Aricha is definitely one of the most interesting of the washed Ethiopians we’ve come across, giving a nod to the floral heavy profile I loved in Populace’s Aricha, but providing some really outstanding experiences that are all it’s own, namely some of the herbal and sparkling elements that really added to the character of the coffee and overall experience to what I’ve found in coffees “similar”. What a privilege to dive into this coffee, and what an excellent pair of coffees to begin a roasting operation. Terminus Coffee you guys… grab your tickets before this train leaves the station.
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.