I’m a very fortunate person. Running a coffee review website has given me the opportunity to try some of the best coffees this country has to offer—shipped directly from the roaster to my doorstep on a regular basis, usually free of charge. While some roasters might do it to take advantage of a great free advertising opportunity, I believe that most of the roasters are genuine in their generosity.
Then there are the sort of roasters who I’ve come to really love—those who send me stuff because they genuinely want an outside opinion of their coffee.
The folks behind Oil Slick Coffee Company are like that.
Not so long ago, I received an email from the founder of the still recently-founded company; he expressed interest in having a couple of his coffees reviewed here at the Table.
I, of course, was all too happy to oblige him. So a few days ago I received a care package with a beautiful note and two coffees—one from Ethiopia and the coffee we’re reviewing today, which hails from El Salvador.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Beloya, from Oil Slick Coffee Company in Alexandria, Virginia. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The Beloya mill in Yirgacheffe has made a great name for itself producing amazing natural processed coffee.
The availability of the Beloya has been inconsistent over the past few years due to the changes in the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. That fact makes the presence of the Beloya in our line up even more special.
Beloya receives coffee from its 1203 members who harvest Ethiopian heirloom varieties. Abdullah, the owner of the mill, has perfected his processing method over a decade to insure exceptional quality. The attention to processing has given the Beloya a big sweet body, a variety of berries, and very pleasant chocolate notes.
origin: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
Oh yeah—this is a natural Ethiopia, for sure.
As soon as the water hits the grounds, a huge chocolate and berry bomb goes off. This is a decadent aroma that fills the entire room with scents of dark chocolate, blueberry, strawberry, and floral aromatics of violet. Absolutely wonderful.
But the first few sips immediately post-brew and I find myself with The Return of the Roast. This same thing happened with the El Sal that Oil Slick sent me—it had an incredible aroma, but the flavor was dominated by roastiness. It’s happening here in this cup of Ethiopia Beloya, too—amazing aroma, massive roastiness.
There are some of the standard natural Ethiopia characteristics, to be sure: blueberry, chocolate, purple flowers, caramel, etc. But the most prevalent taste of this coffee is the inside of the roaster; it is roasty, metallic, and burnt.
Full body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
The Ethiopia Beloya, from Oil Slick Coffee Company, was a real disappointment. When they told me that they’d be sending me their Beloya, I started doing research on the coffee and nearly every coffee site I visited told me that the Beloya was incredible, that the flavors boomed out of the cup, that it is one of the best natural coffees to come out of Ethiopia.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience that. I could tell that the flavors were there, but it was just so hard to drink the coffee because of all that roast.
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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.