Hello fellow coffee fanatics! Welcome back to my table here in the corner of the cafe. The baristas brewed up a pot of Counter Culture Coffee’s Idido Natural Sundried for us to try, so feel free to pull up a chair.
I stopped by Counter Culture Coffee’s training facility in Chicago last week to check out their La Marzocco Strada EP demonstration, then stayed around for a tour of their facility, an espresso tasting, and an impromptu latte art throwdown between some of the representatives of Caffé Streets, Ipsento, The Wormhole, and a couple other local baristas. Richard Futrell, one of the teachers at the training center, and I got to talking shop about coffee after he showed me their massive setup of brewing methods, which included everything from pourovers, to French presses, to Chemexes, to syphon filters—just about all of these brewing techniques are demonstrated during their Friday morning coffee cupping lectures, which are open to the public. After a pretty lengthy discussion, he wanted to send me home with some coffee to write about. “What are you into,” he asked me.
How do I even begin answering that?
I told him what I thought of their Guatemalas, which I tasted at Istria Cafe, and that while I enjoyed them, I prefer bolder coffees, like those from Africa or the Pacific region. I also told him that after tasting Dark Matter Coffee’s Monsoon Malabar and Peet’s Coffee and Tea’s Aged Sumatra Peaberry, I was on a bit of an aged and naturally processed coffee kick. He walked over to a shelf filled with coffee, shuffled a few bags around, then tossed me a half pound of Counter Culture’s Indido Natural Sundried.
“I’m right there with ya, man,” he said. “I get really excited about this particular coffee because it comes from a farm in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia—and Ethiopia is the home of all coffees!” He then took me into his office to show off a giant map that covers almost an entire wall, and excitedly informed me that he spent months trying to find a map like this one for his office—one that had Ethiopia smack-dab in the middle of everything. “This is a really cool thing,” he exclaimed, “because you can trace coffee’s journey from here all over the world! Up to Europe, to the West, across the Atlantic, into the Caribbean, and down into Central and South America; up to Europe again, and Egypt, and Suadi Arabia, to the East, down into India, over the Indian Ocean, into Indonesia, and some of these outlying islands. Coffee all over the world, originally coming from this little country in the middle of Africa. Pretty cool stuff.”
I nodded. “Yeah. Pretty cool stuff.”
“Yeah.” A brief pause. “Well. Anyway. Try that stuff out and let me know what you think.”
Indido Natural Sundried hails from a small community called Indido, which is just outside the world-famous coffee town, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.
Indido is situated just a few miles east of Yirgacheffe, and the coffee grown here is done so in the shade at elevations between 1,900 and 2,100 meters. Until the 1950’s, when the Latin America style of the washed coffee process was first introduced to the region and Yirgacheffe became the first town in Africa to do away with natural processing, Ethiopian farmers made very few changes to the way they grew, harvested, and processed coffee. Sadly, natural processing and sun drying has become so obsolete in the past 60 or so years that, nowadays, it’s almost a rarity to find really great, high-quality natural coffees. Fortunately, there are are still companies—like Counter Culture—that are committed to finding these coffees.
Idido retains much of the methods used in the early days of Ethiopian coffee farming, but has made some very slight changes since the introduction of wet processing. In the old days, before wet processing was introduced, coffee beans were spread on the dirt floors of huts in the village and left to dry. While this process can yield some really good results, it’s more common that the beans will absorb all sorts of off flavors from the air or the ground; so they’ve altered this process by instead drying the beans on raised beds for up to four weeks. During this time the beans are raked and turned over again and again for even drying, and sorted several times over to remove any undesirable cherries. This more controlled process produces a really well-refined, flavorful cup of coffee.
The first thing I noticed about this coffee was its wonderfully rich, sweet, malty aroma, in both its whole bean and ground coffee state. The coffee retained this aroma after I brewed it, making my entire kitchen smell like a delicious chocolate milkshake, complete with whip cream, and a cherry on top (no, seriously—that description is bang on what it smelled like). The flavor was so wonderfully rich, so tremendously sweet. Reminiscent of most Ethiopian coffees, the Indido was very chocolaty with notes of sweet, juicy berries—blueberry and strawberry, predominately—and cherries; it was very much like drinking a chocolate covered blueberry. This was the flavor immediately post-brew, and this flavor retained even as the cup cooled to room temperature—a very consistent, well-rounded cup of coffee.
It wasn’t heavy-bodied, but it wasn’t what I would consider a medium body either—it was somewhere right in the middle of the two; heavy enough to coat the palate, but light enough that it didn’t weigh your belly down, like some other African coffees are apt to do. It had very little acidity, coupled with a really crisp, clean finish that left virtually no aftertaste, which was a little disappointing. However, it was a bit astringent and malty, almost like an English or Irish breakfast tea with none of the slight smokiness those teas possess.
The Bottom Line
Counter Culture Coffee’s Idido Natural Sundried is an absolutely wonderful coffee. It has a rich chocolatiness with berry and cherry tones; to put it simply, this coffee is reminiscent of drinking a chocolate milkshake or a chocolate covered blueberry. This coffee is a real treat black, but is every bit as delicious served with cream and a very tiny bit of sugar—one doesn’t need to sweeten this one too much—and would best be served as a light after-dinner or dessert coffee. By all means, this is definitely one worth trying.