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 thing 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 an Ethiopia Teklu Chelelektu, from Revel Coffee Roasters in Billings, Montana, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Chelelektu Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1800 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Chelelektu is perfumed, floral, and wonderfully fragrant. Wisps of lavender and lilac mingle with the lively effervescence of grapes and stone fruits.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by a honeyed coffee that coats the taste buds while silky flower petals brush against the sides of the tongue then tickles the roof of the mouth: lavender, lilac, and violet. At the same time, juicy stone fruits like apricot and peach coalesce with sweet peaches and cream.
As it cools off, the coffee takes a turn for the unusual, going in a direction that I haven’t yet seen from a Chelelektu. Cocoa is pretty prevalent here in the second half, but there’s a really unique combination of licorice, star anise, coriander, and cloves that nip at the taste buds. Meanwhile a tart stream of green candy apple, effervescent white grape, and bright pluot acidity stream down the center of the tongue.
Light body; honeyed mouthfeel; grape acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
One of the most popular coffees of 2014, particularly over the past few months, has been the Ethiopia Chelelektu. Personally, I’ve had it here at the Table three or four times myself and, each time, it’s almost entirely different than the cup before it. Revel Coffee’s Chelelektu was certainly no exception. In fact, Revel took what was already a really unique coffee and made it into something even more unique; and that’s quite a feat.
This cup throws more than a few curveballs at the palate—it’s definitely not a straightforward coffee, and certainly not representative of That Classic Yirg Profile. No, this coffee is so interesting and so complex; more importantly, though, this coffee is so delicious.
It’s hugely flavorful, intricately balanced, constantly shifting, and very finely tuned.
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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.