Ethiopia Kemgin is another fine coffee is from Ninety-Plus but this is a washed coffee from Ethiopia, a departure from the work they more frequently do with natural processing.
Ninety Plus is a US company that has been working for some years in Ethiopia to develop coffees of real distinction. Kemgin coffees have been produced in Wellega, Sidama, and Yirgacheffe.
This coffee is grown at an extreme altitude between 1800-2050 meters, making it some of the highest grown coffee we have encountered, from Ethiopia or anywhere else for that matter.
Joseph Brodsky, founder of Ninety Plus, places emphasis on coffee cherry processing, which is what they attribute to be the most important element toward producing great coffee. They have made an art out of working on the processing side and they consider themselves ‘coffee makers’ rather than producers.
Brodsky dries this coffee at the wet mill rather than on traditional raised beds. His method emphasizes drying the coffee to predetermined moisture level with a specific time span; in other words the process invokes more control than traditional methods that utilize sun, warmth, and turnover of the beans.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Kemgin, from BonLife Coffee in Cleveland, Tennessee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Chalalacktu, Borena, Oromia, Ethiopia
association: Ninety Plus
elevation: 1800 – 2050 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma coming off of the Ethiopia Kemgin is delicate, fragrant, and complex. There’s a bit of stone fruit in the fumes, but I’m more impressed with the floral, the green tea, the vanilla. Very interestingly, I’m even picking up scents of sweet angel food cake and macadamia.
The first few sips of this coffee present my palate with an utterly unique flavor experience. There are a lot of characteristics in this cup that are comparable to a green tea—jasmine, sencha, ginseng, a certain amount of lemon grass; it even leaves behind an astringency in the mouth after each sip. It’s a medium-bodied coffee, but it’s light on the palate.
The Kemgin, as it cools, gushes forth powerful, syrupy fruit flavors and a really sharp lemon juice acidity. The tartness of the lemon makes a lasting impression on my taste buds, but lemon isn’t the only tart fruit I’m tasting—I’m also getting powerful notes of grapefruit. In addition to these incredibly powerful overtones, I’m getting a surge of other tropical fruits like orange, apricot, papaya, guava, peach, nectarine, wild strawberry, and coconut. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a faint hint of lush, silky night blooming flowers, ginger, and the persistent ginseng in the finish of each sip.
Medium body; syrupy mouthfeel; lemon acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
The Ethiopia Kemgin, from BonLife Coffee, truly, is a totally unreal coffee.
Ethiopia, we all know, is a region that can’t be pigeonholed or nailed down. Go through my archives here at the Table—even over the past several months—and you will see that, in 2013 alone, no two Ethiopian coffees have been alike. Ethiopia, for one little part of the coffee-producing world, puts out utterly unique coffee after utterly unique coffee.
However, all that being said, even this, the Ethiopia Kemgin, stands apart from its counterparts. There are really no other words I can use to accurately sum up the Kemgin than “singular.”
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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.