blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Friday, June 02, 2006

Phoenix's Ethiopian brewed in a French Press

I brought home some Ethiopian Harrar beans a few days ago and brewed them first in my automatic drip coffee maker, then in my French press for comparison. In the auto drip coffee maker, the coffee was too underdeveloped to accurately compare to the Stumptown Ethiopian that I brought home from Switzerland. The Stumptown had been underdeveloped, too; all blueberry and not much actual coffee flavor. I think home auto drip coffee makers just don't get hot enough. Furthermore, this brewer has a flat bottomed basket, which I don't like either. I think the cone shaped baskets develop a better flavor for some reason.

So I brewed both in French presses and was not disappointed. French press is always a good method for analyzing coffee flavor. The Stumptown Ethiopian (which I now think might have been mislabeled as a Sidamo; I think it was actually a Harrar) was a bit sour. The blueberry flavors that had been so pronounced in the auto drip brew method turned rancid in the French press. I would conclude that this coffee would be best brewed in a commercial automatic drip machine, which is probably how the Stumptown folks designed it to be consumed.

The Phoenix Ethiopian, which is definitely a Harrar, brewed up very complex and satisfying. I am hard-pressed to describe the flavor more than that, there was so much going on in the cup. There was some acidity, good body (this was French press after all) and the aroma was noticeably present as well. I did detect very subtle blueberry hints in the aroma, but not much blueberry in the cup. I am now thinking that maybe our Sivetz roaster tends to develop all of the flavors in a bean more equally, resulting in coffees that are more similar to one another flavor-wise. Coffee flavor consistency is one of the advantages that Michael Sivetz has always touted, and something that we have always been proud of, but the trade-off for that may be that it becomes more difficult to distinguish one varietal from another. Good coffee should have well balanced characteristics, which this Ethiopian did. I drank all of it, which is another acid test for me. There was no coffee sitting in my cup 20 minutes later.

Carl has been adjusting the water quench level as well as some of the roast temperatures. I am interested to see if his adjustments will bring out any of the coffees idiosyncracies a little more.


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