My coffee journey – October 2012

My second coffee from Kopi was Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Washed Arabica Q Grade, described as ‘a sweet-smelling, medium roast from one of Ethiopia’s most famous growing regions.  Lively and undeniably gourmet.’  Coffees from the Yirgacheffe region are considered among the finest in the world and as, so far, I had not had much love for the African coffees I had previously tried, I was looking forward to finding one I did like – and this one did not disappoint.

The smell of the beans were oaky, woody – like carpentery, rich and exotic, and undeniably African.  I’m not even sure what I mean when I say that, but the first whiff I took and that was the word that came to my head.  Once brewed, there was a dusty and warm subtle smell which did not bring out the smell of the beans, or even much of coffee.  The subtle warmth continued to the tastebuds and I found this coffee gently tickled my tongue and all around my mouth – almost dust-like – and was not bitter at the back of my mouth.  It was soft, smooth and chocolatey with deep caramel hints, and although it ‘flowed’ I thought it was lacking something – perhaps a hint of spice.

The booklet on this month’s coffee described the traditional Ethiopian way of drinking coffee and, naturally, I had to try it out: ‘Ethiopian coffee ceremony is about the multi-sense experience of coffee’ and coffee beans are ground before brewing using a zenesena and mukecha (pestle and mortar).  They are then placed in a jibuna – an earthen pot – and boiling water is poured on top, often with spices.  The pot is then placed on a woven straw holder called a matot and as the coffee brews guests waft the coffee vapours with their hands and breathe deeply to enjoy the aromas.  When the grounds have drifted to the bottom of the jibuna the coffee is served in small handle-less cups.  It is common to add sugar or salt, but never milk.

Of course, I do not own a zenesena, mukecha, jibuna, matot, or even handle-less cups, so I had to improvise with a pestle and mortar, teapot, cork mat, and demi-tasse cups.  I added cinnamon and cardamom to the brew, and when drinking the coffee I had a cup each of plain, with salt and with sugar.

Drinking the coffee this way it was mild, soft, gentle, sweet and delicate and easy to drink at any time of day.  The spices added sweetness so I found that adding sugar was unnecessary – it was then too sweet for my taste, although it did make it like a syrupy-honey nectar.  With salt, instead, it was very refreshing and lreminiscent of the sea (although not like salt water!) but still like nectar.

My preference for this coffee is black with added spice.  I give it 4 stars.

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