The first time I roasted coffee, I had no idea what I was doing and I was so excited… I was watching, and listening, and smelling everything I could, as if I knew what I was doing, and I didn’t. - Bill Holzhuerter, Thou Mayest
There is something about the fear of the unknown that makes everything all that much more exciting. I remember the smells of my first roast, the first time I watched milk starting to dance on top of the espresso after failed attempt and failed attempt, and the first time I made a V60 and sat down to drink it - it didn’t matter about quality as much as the mark it made. These “little symphonies” as the guys at Thou Mayest call it, that happen around us every day are more easily noticeable when you slow down and subject yourself to an excellent cup of coffee. I think Thou Mayest serves as a reminder that, when you take the time to slow down you can see all these nuances a coffee offers, but at the same time reminds us that it isn’t about always getting it right, or dialed in, or one degree hotter or colder. It’s an experience from the smell to the taste to the feel of it, that gives us those memories much like film, books or music, that gives us inspiration and excitement again. With that, let’s explore Ethiopia Harrar.
Roaster: Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters
Region: Gololecha - East Arsi, Harrar, Ethiopia
Process: Natural process , sun-dried
Elevation: 1,500 - 1,600m
V60 no stir | 14g © to 215g (w) | 2:00 total time | 198 degrees | 1.43 TDS | 20.20% Ext.
Aromas from the cup remind me of a banana mango smoothie.
Diving into my first sips I am greeted by rich dark chocolate notes, blueberry, raspberry, banana, and a nice fluffy yet spiced finish. Medium to full bodied, slightly bright berry notes but mostly muted acidity, lingering flavors.
There seem to be floral hints around as well, though there are tangled with lingering drifts of smoke and sweet lemon. Prickly blackberry, too, seems to jump into the cup with a bit of a drying, winey finish. It carries an interesting complexity of fruits and spices, not as pungent as the intro flavors were.
I’m quite surprised, honestly, that I enjoy this coffee. It carries all the characteristics of a natural processed coffee, and it’s also a bit heavier of a coffee, but none of the flavors overwhelm me or create a negative in the cup. I think in part it is because the blueberry and blackberry notes don’t exaggerate through the cup but sink in and become more dense and, surprisingly, there are florals that seem to radiate above the surface of a richer, more full profile than normal. This is a great morning or after dinner coffee with good flavor, complexity, and body for those Ethiopian notes.
Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.30% Ext. (Immersion mode)
Jumping into the cup is a spiced, bright cup- blueberry, strawberry, passionfruit, banana, mango on the front. Chocolate tamed down in the method, instead it seems a bit more peppery. Pretty rounded at a medium body, maybe some nods leans toward a little on the heavier side. Either way, similar to how mentioned before, has that natural processed characteristic to the cup but manages to be balanced enough that the fruit sweetness doesn’t over power. Finding some florals in here too that aid in keeping the cup nicely in check.
As you really get into the cup raspberry, blackberry, even some vanilla come out. Still feels like a juicy medium bodied coffee, but hints of smoke and chocolate now do present themselves in the finish giving it a darker feel. Still- rich, herbal notes intertwining with bold fruit flavors, and berry aromas define this cup.
The funny thing is, if you let this one cool down to about room temperature, it gives you more of a washed profile- peach sweetness, melon, and a little lime (or atleast that’s how my final sips were after about an hour).
Chemex | 30g © to 480g (w) | 3:25 total time | 201 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.00% Ext.
Nose is a bit herbal, a bit berry cobbler, a bit woody.
Diving in carries rich woody tones, but yet a back splash of berry. It’s a bit smoky, and herbal, with blueberry and blackberry afterthoughts. A bit more muted of an acidity, and a hard to define body, but a bold flavor with a spicy finish, but also elements of a nice dark chocolate. The long finish returns with a bit of a sweet apricot note.
Cooling further the veil lifts a bit and you find a nicely syrupy full body with these sweeter berry notes, even pops of cherry, plum, currant and apricot, with lower lying wild flowers around you, and a bit of a gingersnap cookie flavor throughout. Still a bit smoky, but lightly juicy in mouthfeel and creamy as it finishes, still spicy with sweet fruits filling the aroma.
Where normally I’d say natural Ethiopians are very fruit forward, the fruit notes in here are quite balanced with the other elements going on. If anything, I find it a bit smoke heavy.
The coolest moments are more focused- melted chocolate, a bit brighter, warm fruits, and a buttery finish.
Like I mentioned in the first method, I was surprised I liked this coffee, but It wasn’t as lopsided in balance as some other natural processed offerings I’ve had. You can see that the TDS readings seem to line-up a bit closer to what I would normally pull out, and It also felt like the furthest roast profile of the bunch for me. I could have tried to lessen the intensity by lowering the TDS some, but either way the berry forward notes didn’t continue to exaggerate, which was welcomed. Again to my surprise, it even began to develop more washed-like properties when it had been cooling for awhile, and I haven’t really experienced that in a natural process Ethiopian offering before.
The first coffees that inspired me and made me want to explore specialty coffee to a deeper level were Gelana Abaya from Bent Tree Coffee Roasters and Amaro Gayo from Deeper Roots, both of which were natural processed Ethiopians. For that reason, this coffee and other naturals are always nostalgic for me. I think about how enjoyable they were to gain my attention, how they have altered my perception on coffee to this day, and shown me how much my palate has grown since the days of, “whoa… blueberry muffins.” While not the most stand out offering of the lot, it reminds me of the journey to where I am today, and for that I’m always grateful for that.