The Misty Valley Indido Yirg
Peter Giuliano, Counter Culture's director of coffee, met a coffee farmer named Bagersh while traveling int the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. It seems Bagersh had a little experiment going on, whereby he was sun-drying some beans, in the ancient Yirgacheffe tradition. This is only unusual in light of the fact that all coffees from that renown region have been washed ever since 1958. So the sun-dried product is a bit of a technological regression, even though one could say that is how it has always been done. The 48 years of washing beans is just a drop in the bucket when you take in the big picture. However, the clean, lemony, bright floral characteristics we associate with Yrigacheffes is all that we have in our living memory of these great coffees (I realize there are some senior coffee drinkers who may remember this style, please let us know if you are still out there). This throw-back flavor has an entirely different dimension, making it infinitely more complex than what we have gotten accustomed to. This is an amazing coffee that knocked me over from the moment I opened the bag. (Edit: Bagersh is a coffee merchant, not a farmer, so I think he has contacts on farms who are drying the beans in the sun.)
My first impression, after recovering from my school girl swooning experience of the powerful cocoa and berry aroma, was that the beans were covered with some kind of powder. I thought it might just be the shadow of the bag in the bright Autumn sunlight creating a visual abnormality, but when I got them inside they still appeared strange. They look powdery gray, like they have been dusted with fine chalk, and the color has a light brown and dry matte quality. The size of the individual bean is very small, which is not unusual for Ethiopian coffee.
The flavor from the French press still has everything that I have come to expect from a Yirgacheffe. It was citrissy, with Jasmine flower accents, and had smooth and rounded body. There was also a dry mouthfeel while still seeming a little thick. But along with this was a powerful berry aromatic, like black and blue berries and some cherry. I thought there was a big chocolaty component, like cocoa powder. To drink it was almost like having a confection.
I want to finish the bag myself, but I suppose my co-workers at the coffee shop aught to have a taste, and my wife probably wants some too. One fellow Barista is actually waiting to brew his pound of it till he finds a grinder he likes.
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