The People's Roast Ethiopia Yirgacheffe
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Last week, while researching companies to include in my article, “A Roaster by Any Other Name,” I came across a company that has been featured a couple of times on The Coffee Adventures whose name I really took a shine to: The People’s Roast.

I emailed Tom Anderson, the owner (aka, “Man of the People’s Roast”), to find out the story behind the name; not only did he tell me the story of the business name, he also offered to send me a sample of his latest roast.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today marks a first for the Table as we’ll be reviewing a home roast—the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga, from The People’s Roast in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feel free to pull up a chair.

I’m pretty excited about this coffee—I’ve been wanting to review a home roast for a long time now. Not just because I’m so fascinated by the process and have oft considered purchasing some sort of roasting apparatus, but also because I want to promote home roasting as a hobby and legitimate income-earner.

Fortunately for me, Tom Anderson feels the same way and, thus, provided me this Yirg.

Today’s coffee comes from the Konga Cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. The cooperative is made up of 1,683 small holder farmers—133 of which are female heads of family. The average size of a farm is 1.25 acres on which coffee and various foods for the local market are grown in nutritious, volcanic soil.

the basics:

origin: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Konga Cooperative
elevation: 1800-2100 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
certifications: Fair Trade, Organic

the coffee:

The aroma of this coffee is very, very faint—both while it’s dry and wet, though the two aromas are radically different. While it’s in the package, it has a predominantly peanut buttery smell; while it’s in the cup, it has a more delicate floral aroma, with some hints of lemonade, peach, ginger, and hazelnut.

The flavor is every bit as delicate while it’s still hot. Perhaps that will change after it cools off a bit, but right now all I’m getting is a belly of raw cocoa, a little bit of nuttiness, and some more floral aromatics. I will say, though, that it is pretty roasty—it doesn’t taste like smoke or ash, more like a burnt cedar? It’s not strong enough to render the coffee undrinkable, it’s just enough to make you want a sip of water between slurps.

As it cools off, it doesn’t get any more defined—it’s still a very delicate coffee. If anything, it actually gets more complex as a soft peppery spice comes out, a little bit of butterscotch and toffee sweetness, a hazelnut/roasted almond finish, and a surprisingly sharp lemon acidity. I really didn’t see any of that coming—it has a lot of Irish breakfast tea qualities to it: the semi-sweetness, the roastiness, the subtle fruit play, and the astringent finish it leaves behind.

Light body; silky mouthfeel; lemon acidity; dry, astringent finish.

the bottom line:

This coffee was an interesting challenge for me. As a coffee reviewer, I have to tell the truth about the tastes of coffee—even if that means I’m bashing a brew from a company that I really love. However, I also realize that I can’t use the same set of standards for a cup of coffee across the board. For example, it would be very difficult for me to compare the same bean by two different roasters if one were using a drum roaster and one were using a fluid bed.

Those two machines produce different profiles.

This is especially true with today’s cup—I cannot, in good conscience, use the same set of standards that I have for an established company that uses a Diedrich in a warehouse space while critiquing a cup from a guy who roasts very small batches in a Behmor 1600 on his kitchen countertop. That just wouldn’t be fair.

All that being said, the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Konga, from The People’s Roast, is better than I was expecting. It was delicate and tea-like, had a smooth cocoa flavor, a silky mouthfeel, and a surprisingly sharp acidity. The thing I appreciated most about it was that it wasn’t obviously a home roast. Sure, it had its imperfections; but they weren’t any worse than flaws I’ve tasted in coffees out of Probats or Diedrichs.

I don’t think this cup proved that home roasting is every bit as good as professional roasting, but it does prove that home roasting is nothing to be scoffed at. It proves that, with enough patience, practice, and dedication, home roasting could be much more than merely a hobby—it could be a realistic source of income and a legitimate addition to the specialty coffee world.

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