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 it you require some traceability or back story with the coffees. You have to become a detective. Good job I’m becoming quite good at spotting the clues.
This coffee comes from around 500 small holders who hand pick the cherries, and is grown at around 1850-2000 metres’ altitude (on average). These small holders then sell the freshly picked cherries to the Chelelektu mill, which is located in the Kochere zone just outside the town of Chelelektu.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Chelelektu, from Radio Roasters in Atlanta, Georgia. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kochere, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Chelelektu Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1850 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Ethiopia Chelelektu is fragrant and sweet, but it has some rougher unrefined edges to it, too—savory, spicy, and a little roasty. Hibiscus, citrus, cherry blossom, cinnamon, tomato, hazelnut, brown sugar, rose hips… Really interesting and complex aroma.
The first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew are really interesting. There’s something a bit odd about the profile up front. It’s a bit roasty, and I’m getting notes of roasted nuts and hint of carbon, but there are also flavors that are spicy, savory, and, oddly, meaty—it’s a full-bodied coffee with a really viscous texture, and I’m getting notes of sun dried tomato, soy sauce, worcestershire, brown sugar, mesquite, and cedar. Pretty weird.
As it cools, though, it gets a bit more straightforward and goes a bit easier on the palate; not much, though, because the flavors it presents at this point in its life are bright, tropical, lively, and explosive. Tart pineapple, juicy and fleshy blood orange, sweet cherry, and hibiscus.
Full body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; dry finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Ethiopia Chelelektu has been the star of the specialty coffee world over the past couple month; it seems like every roaster out there is carrying it and everybody and their brother has been raving about it on social media. So that’s exciting. I also love trying coffees from roasters I’ve never tried before. So when Atlanta’s brand new roasting startup, Radio Roasters, sent me their Chelelektu I got really excited.
Their Chelelektu had a lot of good stuff going for it, but the coffee certainly isn’t without fault. For one thing, it’s a shade over-roasted—not very over-roasted, but enough to impart a touch of carbon and a roasty astringency; it’s not smoky, it’s not undrinkable—just a touch overdone. Furthermore, there’s an odd profile up front when the cup is still piping hot—spicy, savory, and, oddly, meaty. But, when it cools off a bit more, it’s a different coffee—it’s juicy, sweet, fruity, more rounded and balanced… It’s better. It starts off shaky, but it has a decent finish.
Radio is a brand new startup and this is only one of their very first offerings, so there’s a curve there—they’re still learning, still figuring things out. But this is a promising start. I can’t wait to see how Radio progresses.
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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.