I was born and raised in Joliet, Illinois—one of Chicago’s rough and tumble “South Town” suburbs. I’ve lived most of my life in and around the City of Chicago, but never really experienced great coffee outside of Chicago.
Now, even though I live in the city proper, I’m no elitist. Scratch that. Of course I am.
But even I refuse to believe that Chicago has the Illinois specialty coffee market completely cornered; Illinois is an awfully big state—fifth-most populous in the country (12,830,622 according to the 2010 census!)—and one city, as big and as populated as it is, can’t possibly be the only source for a really great cup of coffee.
A couple weeks ago, one roaster, based in Central Illinois (or, as Chicagoans refer to it, the Deep South), sent out a tweet expressing their desire to be nationally recognized. I sent them a message expressing my interest in helping them achieve that.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are sipping a cup of Ethiopia Hachira, from Thirty-Thirty Coffee Company in Peoria, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Unfortunately, the Ethiopia Hachira is another one of those coffees that, no matter how long I researched, I just couldn’t find out much about it. I have no idea where it’s from, who farmed it, what farm it was grown on, what varietal it is, etc., etc. The most I discovered is that it was imported by Ninety Plus Coffee, an incredibly picky importing group that solely imports coffees that score 90 or better on their cupping table.
From what I’ve gathered about them, however, they also seem to be incredibly secretive about their products. This Ethiopia Hachira, for example, isn’t listed on their website—none of their offerings are, actually! If you’re a roaster and you want to see a portfolio of their current offerings, you actually have to email them and request it. I requested to have the specs for the Hachira sent to me, but no luck.
It’ll have to suffice to say that this is a coffee from somewhere in Ethiopia.
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
This lightly-roasted coffee packs a wallop of an aroma. As soon as I open the bag, the whole room is filled with the scent of sweet, creamy peanut butter. After the coffee sits around for a few days, the peanut buttery dry aroma of the beans only intensifies too; to the point that, before too long, you don’t even have to open the bag to smell it. Interestingly enough, though, grinding the coffee releases even more scents—fruity and floral aromatics: rose hips and cherry blossoms (these are very present in the wet aroma as well), blueberry, raspberry, and watermelon Jolly Rancher.
Whoa. I was not at all expecting the flavor of this cup to be what it is.
The Hachira is massively flavored, with a vast variety of flavors competing for my palate’s attention. The cup has crystal clarity, making each note easily identifiable: green apple, watermelon, cherry, blueberry, and raspberry, all floating on a thin layer of salted caramel.
As it cools off, it becomes more tart: the green apple intensifies, notes of candied lemon drops develop, and a lime acidity emerges.
Light body; light, delicate mouthfeel; lime acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
I was not at all expecting this coffee—the Ethiopia Hachira from Thirty-Thirty Coffee Company—to be what it was. Not at all.
It has a super-intense flavor from the very first sip to the very last that just does not quit—it is absolutely relentless. And there are so many flavors in this cup, that it’s almost hard to keep track of them all. And herein, actually, is my one complaint about this coffee—roasted right around a city (or maybe a city plus) profile, I’m not sure it’s developed enough.
Even though it is incredibly flavorful, each sip thins out towards the end; each sip starts off with an explosion of tastes, but they don’t stick around. The only thing that does stick around is the limy acidity that, while refreshing (like a mojito), is almost too sour.
Don’t let that dissuade you from trying this coffee, though. As I mentioned on Twitter last week, this Ethiopia Hachira literally made exclaim “Wow!” in my cubicle—you can verify that story with any of my workmates.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.