Buying from Ethiopia continues to be a challenge. The cupping table always shows some amazing coffees; however, buying through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange continues to be difficult for buyers who require some traceability or back story with the coffees they’re interested in. So, you have to become a sort of detective tracking down that sort of information. Luckily for you, Dear Reader, I’ve become pretty good at spotting clues…
This Grade 1 coffee is sourced from family owned farms organized around the Chelelektu Washing Station, located in the Kochere woreda of the Gedeo zone of Ethiopia. The Gedeo zone is named after the Gedeo people who are indigenous to this area. The Kochere micro-region has long been known as one of the best origins for southern Ethiopian coffee. The combination of very high altitude and iron-rich, acidic soil creates the ideal growing situation to produce the bright, floral Yirgacheffe profile.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Chelelektu, from Mountain Air Roasting in Asheville, North Carolina, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Chelelektu, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Chelelektu Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1700 – 1950 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
(NOTE: Before I get into my cupping notes, I feel it’s important to mention that, by the time I received this coffee from Craft, it was already two weeks post-roast. The following is what I was able to get out of my cupping experience, but I can’t speak to what the coffee tastes like when it’s just a few days off roast. After some consideration, I decided that I got enough out of the cup to formulate a good idea of what the coffee is about and write a review of it.)
The aroma of the Chelelektu is perfumed and fragrant; a very floral-forward aroma, with nuances of stone fruit mixed in. A somewhat musty black tea note is the most prominent feature, but I’m also smelling a flourish of lavender, lilac, bergamot, and honeysuckle.
Taking my first few sips from the cup immediately post-brew, again, this is a very floral-forward coffee. It possesses a medium body and a very silky mouthfeel; it’s almost as if I’m drinking a cup of flower petals. The flavor follows the nose, but the individual notes are inversed; instead of a dominant black tea flavor and nuances of flowers, I’m tasting dominant lavender and violet flavors that are bolstered by a sturdy backbone of Earl Grey black tea (which is further accentuated by a somewhat dry, astringent finish—not unlike Earl Grey tea). As the cup cools off, some very mellow fruit flavors appear. Nectarine, peach, apricot, plum, and raisin with subdued green grape acidity.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; tartaric acidity; dry finish.
When I received the latest Craft Coffee box and saw that two of the coffees (this one being one of them) were already two weeks by the time I received them, I took to Twitter to express my frustration with the company. I’ve had the Chelelektu many times here at the Table and it’s usually a delicate, genteel, nuanced, sophisticated coffee. In my experience, it’s not a sturdy coffee that can withstand going days and days without being consumed. Fortunately, after playing with a couple different saturation methods (Clever and Aeropress) the coffee still had enough flavor to give me a good idea of what it was all about.
Despite its age, though, I still enjoyed this one. Mountain Air Roasting‘s Ethiopia Chelelektu is a floral-forward coffee, characterized by a bouquet of black tea, lavender, and purple flower aromatics. There are some juicy (but mellow) fruit nuances that emerge as the cup cools off; I wish they would have been more prominent, brighter, and provided a more effervescent cupping experience but, again, maybe they did a couple weeks ago. Who can say.
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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.