Specialty coffee’s newest arrival, Wisconsin’s own Ruby Coffee Roasters, made a huge splash in 2014 with a series of bright, colorful coffees that dazzled palates all over the country. Now they’re “making seasons bright” with their debut holiday coffee, CHEERS Holiday Blend—a trinity of Ethiopian, Colombian, and Kenyan coffees.
ETHIOPIA SIDAMA ALETA WONDO
This coffee is from the Aleta Wondo woreda (a county, essentially) in the Sidama region of Southern Ethiopia. This wet-processed lotcomes from one washing station called Haraicho, which I visited earlier this year. We hadn’t planned on purchasing coffee from thisarea but when I cupped it in the capital of Addis a few days prior, we bought it on the spot, and made plans to visit the producer, L. Lamiso. Aleta Wondo town is not very remote, a short ways off the main road through Sidama and Yirga Cheffe as you head south. Honestly, I never liked the town much, but maybe that’s because I got stomach sickness after eating a lunch there a few years back. The area is beautiful, and the altitudes these coffees come from is outstanding; mostly 2000+ meters. The coffee is fermented in the traditional Sidama way, under water for a very long time, often 72 hours depending on ambient temperatures. It is then washed through channels, soaked in clean water, and dried on raised beds.
COLOMBIA PEDREGAL DE INZA DE CAUCA
From the Nevado de Huila region of the Colombian Andes comes a delicious coffee from the Asorcafe Producer’s Association. The group is made up of farmers with 2-4 hectare plots, growing and processing their coffees on site. The coffee berries are manually depulped of their skin and washed of their mucilage after undergoing fermentation in small tanks, then laid to dry under cover of simple but effective solar dryers that work like small greenhouses. This Pedregal lot is comprised of coffee from almost a dozen producers from Palmichal, Belen, Alto de Topa, San Jose and San Antonio and consists of Typica, Bourbon, Caturra. The group brings their coffees together for export in the town of Pedregal de Inza de Cauca.
Kamwangi factory is located in the Gichugu division of Kirinyaga district. The factory has the good fortune of being connected to the national electric grid, and washing resources are plentiful with the nearby Nyamindi river as the source. Kamwangi is part of the New Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS). These factories are basically small washing stations set up in a particular area and are allied with a larger cooperative society – the FCS. Factories have wet mills, washing/fermenting channels, and raised beds where the coffees are basically processed all the way down to dried parchment (being meticulously sorted along the way). Kamwangi has a water recirculation system set up, as well as eight waste water soaking pits to help minimize the environmental impact.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the CHEERS Holiday Blend, from Ruby Coffee Roasters in Nelsonville, Wisconsin. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Sidama, Ethiopia // Pedregal de Inza de Cauca, Colombia // Kirinyaga, Kenya
farm: Haraicho Washing Station // (Various) // Kamwangi Factory
producer: smallholder farmers
association: ECX // Asorcafe Producer’s Association // New Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society
elevation: 2000+ // 1250 – 1600 // 1850 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom // Typica, Bourbon, Caturra // SL28, SL34, Ruiru-11
process: fully washed
grind: 20, Preciso
coffee: 26 g
water: 425 mL
pour: 1:30 concentric pour, 1:00 rest, 10 slow stirs, 1:00 rest, drop
The aroma coming off my mug of CHEERS is heavenly and is perfectly in tune with the holiday season. It’s sugary sweet and spicy, too, with scents of brown sugar, spiced wine, apple, cinnamon, and oak.
The first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew are a burst of flavors, and those flavors come gushing over the palate. One of my favorite treats that comes out around this time of year are the spiced liqueurs and wines; CHEERS tastes a lot like those. A deep and robust winy flavor and mouthfeel—reminiscent of a Pinot Noir (blackberry, plum, apple, currant, raspberry)—is complemented beautifully by oak, vanilla, mulling spices, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, brown sugar, and roasted almonds.
As the cup cools, the intensity of the Pinot Noir flavor cools, too; instead, this half of the cup is more characterized by silky, zesty fruits (apple, pear, cherry, orange rind). What remains constant throughout the cup, though, is its spiciness; so the second half of this cup actually is pretty reminiscent of winterapfel.
Full body; winy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.
I had a bit of trouble dialing this coffee in, but when I finally nailed it (detailed in my brewing specs above)… Boy oh boy. This coffee exploded on the palate.
Ruby Coffee Roasters’s CHEERS Holiday Blend is an extremely bright, complex, flavorful, rich, and festive coffee that just doesn’t quit bringing the cheer. What’s more impressive than its intensity, though, is the fact that the coffee isn’t over the top. It brings a whole lot with it, but at no point does it bring too much. Even at its most dynamic, its most intense, its most powerful and flavorful, it’s still a very pleasant cupping experience; a very drinkable coffee.
Once again, Ruby Coffee Roasters lives up to their motto—CHEERS is a very colorful coffee.
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