I know that, here at the Table, we are currently in the throes of a coffee crawl through Grand Rapids, Michigan, but I wanted to throw this review into the mix before it got to be too late.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: I suppose that this review is apropos, however, since the coffee I am going to review today was in my travel mug during the drive from Chicago to Grand Rapids.)
One thing that I particularly enjoy about having so many contacts within the specialty coffee industry is when I get to try the same coffee from different roasters. Now that I’ve been running the Table for over a year, I’m even starting to get into the territory of the same coffees from different roasters in consecutive years—which is even more fun.
Last year, I got to try a package of today’s coffee from Counter Culture Coffee. Today, I’m keeping it local.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are going to be sipping a cup of Passion House Coffee Roasters’ latest offering, Ethiopia Idido. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Idido Cooperative is under the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) umbrella. YCFCU has around 50,000 farmers in 24 cooperatives.
A few years ago, the Ethiopian government set up a group called the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange. The goal of ECX was to ensure farmers fair, timely payment for their coffees and circumvent the questionable practices of many exporters (theft, mislabeling product, etc.). Sounds great, right?
Well, it mostly was. Unfortunately, the side effect was a homogenization of Ethiopia’s coffee exports. A lot of Ethiopian coffees were being shipped all over the world and consumers didn’t know where these beans were coming from. So whenever you see a roaster’s online store and the most specific range of information they can offer about an Ethiopian coffee is that it comes from Yirgacheffe, now you know at least one reason why—the roaster has no way of knowing which farm or cooperative their beans came from!
Because the Idido Cooperative is sanctioned by the Ethiopian government, it, essentially, bypasses the ECX. Importers, roasters, and consumers can be assured these coffees are high-quality and traceable. Farmers in the cooperative also benefit from the direct relationship, receiving assistance with processing techniques, facilities, and stations. This relationship results in higher premiums for the coffees and, ultimately, a better quality of life for all those involved.
farm: Idido Cooperative
elevation: 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, patio dried
I can tell you this: the aroma of this coffee is so great…
The dry fragrance emits cocoa, berry, and honey, while the wet grounds are something different entirely—I’m getting scents of oatmeal (grains, brown sugar, cream, honey) and jasmine tea. It’s light and refined, but completely pleasing to the nose.
The flavor is every bit of fantastic as the aroma. The first few sips, while it’s still hot, are dominated by wonderful honey, cream, and jasmine notes. As the cup cools off a bit, I’m getting an emergence of raw cocoa nibs and citrus peel while a lime acidity starts to shape. It doesn’t seem to get too sweet, though, as there’s a semi-dull lemongrass zing that finishes each sip. As the cup approaches room temperature, more flavors come out—ginger and baking spice.
What I find particularly delicious about this coffee isn’t just the flavor, though—it’s the smooth, creamy, velvety mouthfeel that it has. It’s like someone laid down a silk blanket in a field of lemongrass for a sexy, sexy picnic on my palate.
(is that a weird cupping note?)
Medium body; velvety mouthfeel; lemon-lime acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
Last year, I got to try the natural version of this coffee from Counter Culture Coffee—their Kesher Buno sundried natural Idido. That coffee and this—the Ethiopia Idido from Passion House Coffee Roasters—are two totally different entities even though they are, essentially, the same.
The natural from CCC was a heavy, full-bodied, blueberry bombin’ chocolate malt explosion on my palate. It was actually one of my favorites of 2011.
The washed version from Passion House is completely different—it has a slightly lighter body and is more delicately flavored. Instead of big, bombastic chocolate and fruits, it has notes of spices, blossoms, and herbs.
It is, simply, a tremendous cup of coffee. As per usual from my friends at Passion House.
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