Sunday, October 21, 2007

(Still) Seeking Good Ethiopian Coffee

My brother (and his former employer) introduced me to Ethiopian coffee a bit back. The drinkable kind, not to be confused with the really well named Ethiopian soccer (football) team. :) Both fortunately and unfortunately, wine, beer, and coffee have a lot in common.... There are endless origins, variances from lot to lot, different year crops, etc. And the capabilities of the roaster and the way it is handled from the vine to the cup all matter a LOT. The best and most distinct tasting coffees can usually only be found at smaller coffee roasters (Larger roasters and chain coffeehouses can't scale the more unique coffees due to their volume requirements).

Anyhow I'm pretty certain I was spoiled and introduced to a really good sample during a very very good year. Lately, I've tried to replicate that flavor with newer lots both from self-roasted coffee (from Sweet Maria's) and various coffeehouses. I've been drastically disappointed.

One common attribute often cited with Ethiopian coffee is a "blueberry" flavor element. I'm not talking about an artificially flavored coffee here, this is a natural characteristic. Well, there's none of that -- or at least nothing like what I got from the Ethiopian coffee from 2DogsCoffee (where my brother use to work) a year or more ago.

The good news is that Sweet Maria's just got in two new Ethiopian's:

That's good because the last three I bought a month or two back weren't doing my memory justice (note: part of it may be my self-roasting not being up to par -- I'm an amateur roaster).

Looks I'll be placing another order for some samples soon!

For those curious about self-roasting: It's easy! If you can pop corn than you can roast coffee. I've been known to roast my own coffee from time to time. First with a regular old popcorn air popper and now with a Fresh Roast Plus, which is still really just a glorified popcorn popper. Takes about five minutes. Sweet Maria's (where I buy my raw unroasted green coffee beans) has a resource if want to read more about roasting your coffee.

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