Black Oak Coffee Ethiopia Konga
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Today’s coffee hails from the Konga Cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia; it is one of the 22 members of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union. The cooperative is made up of 1,683 small holder farmers—133 of which are female heads of family.

The YCFCU, as a whole, represents 43,794 smallholder farmers.

The Konga Cooperative is located about five kilometers from Yirgacheffe City in the Gedeo Zone in Southern Ethiopia, one of the most lush, and famous coffee growing regions in the country.

The average size of a farm is 1.25 acres on which coffee and various foods for the local market are grown in nutritious, volcanic soil.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Konga Natural, from Black Oak Coffee Roasters in Ukiah, California, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.

THE BASICS:

region: Konga, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: N/A
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Konga Cooperative
elevation: 1900 – 2300 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: natural
certifications: standard

THE BREW:

method: Clever
grind: slightly coarse (22, Preciso)
coffee: 30 g
water: 420 mL
bloom: 1:00
pour: 1:00 pour, 1:00 steep, ~2:00 drop

THE COFFEE:

The aroma of this Ethiopia Konga is fairly standard; the prototypical natural Ethiopian dry aroma. Scents of chocolate, purple flowers, and blueberry bomb. But there is a touch of cinnamon spiciness and roasted almonds that sets it apart just enough to make it unique.

Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by a really full-bodied coffee that splashes onto the tongue and sloshes back and forth over it with its thick murkiness before rolling off the back and crashes into my stomach, where it rests heavy in the belly. This is definitely a sipping coffee, not just because of its full-bodiedness, but also because of the intensity of its flavor. It’s very sweet, a little tart, even a little abrasive, with flavors of caramel, bittersweet dark chocolate, spicy cinnamon, and a rich, soily earthiness that is complemented and made a bit lighter by silky violet petals.

As it cools off, it takes on a massively syrupy, supple texture, as juicy and bright notes blueberry jam, passion fruit, strawberry preserves, and a mellow tangerine acidity coalesce with brown sugar and honey. However, in addition to these flavors, there is a sharp, somewhat astringent flavor of roastiness that resembles traces of oak barrel and roasted almonds in the finish of each sip, making for a slight dryness and a lingering spiciness that stings the tongue; almost as if the oak has left a splinter in it.

Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

In the specialty coffee world, I think it must be really difficult for roasters to set themselves apart; particularly since they’re selling a lot of the same coffees as each other. Like this particular coffee, for example—we’ve seen here at the Table at least half a dozen times from as many roasters. That’s why it amazes that the only thing that these five or six coffees have in common is the bean themselves; each of them are completely individual, even though they are, in fact, the same. Truly something to marvel at.

This definitely held true for my latest experience with the Konga; this time from our friends at Black Oak Coffee Roasters.

While most of the other Kongas I’ve had in the past were bright and tart and tangy, either with zesty citrus or silky floral notes, this Konga was not like that at all. No, this one was heavy, dark, full-bodied, dense, and complex. More like a PNG than an Ethiopia, honestly.

My only complaint about this coffee was its finish. While 90% of the cup was richly flavorful and satisfying, the last little bit—the lingering aftertaste—almost wiped out my satisfaction. While the present of the coffee was delicious, supple, and supremely flavorful, the past of the coffee was dry, spicy, and just a touch roasty. If, somehow, the past and the present could have been reversed, it would have made all the difference.

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