Novel Coffee makes its debut at the Table today with a natural selection from Ethiopia.
Kilenso Mokonissa is one of the smallest villages in the Borena Hagermariam District of Sidama. Coffee farmers in this area are typically subsistence farmers who pick coffee cherries that grow wild or in small backyard garden plots. In the past the coffees coming from Kilenso would have been blended into larger lots and sold under the area’s catch all name “Ardi.” The farmers there use organic practices (though they are too poor to pay for the certification) so as to not waste anything they produce.
The mill operator, Aklilu Kassa, helps to improve their lives by paying them first for the cherry and again to hand sort and dry the coffee. The result is an amazingly sweet coffee and an environmentally and economically sustainable method of production.
While most of the new crop is still in Ethiopia or traveling by cargo ship, the Kilenso Natural was expedited on a plane by Novel Coffee’s partner, Samuel Demisse at Keffa Coffee. Shipping coffee across the ocean by air is quite expensive, but Samuel was so excited about the flavor profile that he couldn’t wait to showcase it.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Kilenso Natural, from Novel Coffee Roasters in Dallas, Texas. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kilenso Mokonissa, Sidama, Ethiopia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Kilenso Mokonissa Cooperative
elevation: 1750 – 1990 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
As soon as the water touches the grounds (even before that, really), a blueberry bomb explodes out of the Ethiopia Kilenso. Blueberry mixed with strawberry, with a lot of scents of night blooming flowers and juniper fluttering up to the nose.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee, my palate is greeted by a rich, full-bodied, velvety textured coffee that bounces on the tip of the tongue before flattening out over the middle of the tongue. There’s a semisweet dark chocolate flavor that’s most prevalent here, along with a touch of raisin and spiced rum, but the coffee post-brew is pretty dusty and a little musty. Cinnamon and brown sugar provide a little spicy sweetness, but there’s a mix of soil, wet oak (which provides the mustiness, I think), a hint of something papery, and a fermentation that is indicative of its process.
As it cools, the coffee congeals a bit more, with fruit flavors coming together to form a more lucid, syrupy texture. There’s also a bit of a bright, lively tartness happening here with flavors of strawberry milk (especially), blueberry, grape preserves, and lemon rind zestiness that leads to a finish of almonds, mint, tannins, flowers, and buttered toast that provides a lingering sweetness which outlasts a slight astringency in the finish.
Full body; velvety mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly astringent finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
I was very, very impressed with the Ethiopia Kilenso Natural, from Novel Coffee Roasters. While the coffee does suffer some of the traits that are considered downfalls for natural Ethiopias (like the fermentation), it more than makes up for it with its incredible flavors and dynamics.
This Kilenso is the quintessential natural Ethiopia—blueberry bomb, cocoa, mixed berries, fermentation, a diluted finish, etc. But the middle of the cup is just so damn tasty.
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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.