Crown Jewel Decaf Ethiopia Guji Natural Mountain Water Process CJ1525 – 29356-1 – SPOT RCWHSE

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Flavor Profile Dried berry, roasted walnut, bittersweet chocolate

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Overview 

This is a traditional natural coffee from Guji, Ethiopia, produced by farmers in association with collection and processing stations in Benti Nenka and Uraga. The coffee is decaffeinated using chemical-free “Mountain Water” processing at Descamex. 

The flavor profile is buttery in body, endlessly sweet like maple syrup, subtly floral, and cleanly fruited with hints of raspberry and peach. 

Our roasters found that, contrary to many decafs we encounter, this coffee can take the heat! 

When brewed across both pour-over and espresso over many trials our team expressed universal appreciation for the ease of dialing, and the coffee’s uncommonly consistent flavor profile. 

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Just a shade over four years ago in March of 2019, The Crown opened its doors to the public after an invitational Grand Opening evening. Featured on the menu for both events was a Decaf Ethiopian coffee, which also factored into the little-remembered first signature drink, a riff on the Dark and Stormy cocktail — something we called “Cloudy with a Chance of Decaf” if I remember correctly. In a lot of ways, I feel that very first iteration of decaf Crown Jewels served in this building cast quite a long legacy — one which we’ve endeavored to meet with subsequent releases. 

Now, in 2023, we’ve come full circle. Our latest iteration of the Ethiopian Decaf Crown Jewel coffee is here, just in time to slide onto the espresso bar and feature in a newly crafted “Decompresso,” our second-ever decaffeinated coffee signature beverage, created by our lead barista MJ (whose notes you can read on espresso extraction for this coffee). 

Why do we love Ethiopian decafs so much? I think for many of the same reasons we love their caffeinated iterations – the hallmarks of terroir and process indelibly impressed upon the coffee are as compelling as anywhere in the world. But Ethiopia is hardly anywhere – it’s the homeland, arabica’s origin. And so we keep finding ourselves treading familiar territory, somewhere along the intersections of compelling flavors and gripping narrative. 

This Mountain Water iteration from Guji is a traceable lot, down to two washing stations in the borderlands near Gedeo, and bears the structured sweetness and grace of its heritage. Soft citrus fruits and hints of raspberry and peach pair with milk chocolate and vanilla. As with all the best Ethiopian offerings, there’s a wisp of floral fragrances like jasmine or sweet basil. 

Some say decaf drinkers are the purest at heart of all coffee lovers, as there’s no psychoactive incentive for consumption. You’ll have to be the judge for yourself, but if this example were less the exception and more the rule, I’d be entirely convinced. 

Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger with Mayra Orellana-Powell 

There are few entrances to Guji — a distant and heavily forested swath of land stretching southeast through the lower corner of the massive Oromia region — and none of these routes are short, or for the queasy, in any way. Guji is heavy with primary forest thanks to the Guji tribe, a part of Ethiopia’s vast and diverse Oromo nation, who have for generations organized to reduce mining and logging outfits where they can, in a struggle to conserve the land’s sacred canopy. Compared to other coffee-heavy regions, large parts of Guji feel like prehistoric backwoods.   

Coffee farms in this part of Guji tend to be very small and are traditionally diversified between coffee and subsistence crops and grown with organic methods. They are also extremely high in elevation, even for Ethiopia. To pass to Gedeo Zone, as nearly all the coffee must do to begin the trek north to Addis Ababa, one regularly reaches heights of 2600 meters or higher, and yet the scenery remains as fertile and bustling as anywhere. The highland farming communities in this part of the country can be at turns Edenic in their natural beauty, and startlingly remote. 

This coffee was processed at two stations, in the Benti Nenka and Uraga communities. Natural process coffee is hand-sorted and cleaned upon arrival at the processing site; once cleaned, cherry is sun-dried on raised mesh beds for 2-3 weeks, receiving careful rotation to allow for even dehydration. 

Once the coffee finished harvesting and processing, it was exported for decaffeination. Royal exclusively decaffeinates coffee by two processes: Water and Ethyl Acetate (aka “Sugarcane”) process. This coffee was sent from Ethiopia to Veracruz, Mexico, where it began its next steps at Descamex, whose proprietary decaffeination method is called Mountain Water Process.  

During the water process, the green coffee is pre-soaked in water to expand the beans for caffeine extraction. The hydrated green coffee is then introduced to a unique solution of concentrated coffee solubles that draw out the caffeine while minimizing the loss of flavor compounds. Once the caffeine has been removed the green coffee is re-dried and re-bagged for transport, and the extract solution is filtered of its caffeine and recycled to be used again.  

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Decaffeinated coffee usually shows up with a couple of predictable metrics: it tends to have elevated water activity levels due the processing (decaffeination involves re-hydrating and drying the coffee), and lower overall density – possibly due to a combination of processing and a longstanding tradition of using lesser-grade coffees as decaf options.  

This coffee, a natural from Guji, presents us with some unique metrics that buck trends. The first thing to note is the extremely small screen size, and accompanying high density. While the two can go hand-in-hand, there’s also likely an argument to be made here that the coffee started at relatively high quality, and was likely influenced by factors like elevation, and the typically small seed sizes we see from Southern Ethiopian cultivars. The moisture here is on the low side, and water activity within “normal” range, despite being a little higher than we usually see paired with total moisture content below 10%. 

Mountain Water Processed coffee also takes on a brownish hue after processing but begins to look normal mid-Maillard Reactions. If you’re used to roasting coffee by color, expect this to start looking yellow and caramelized around the same temperatures as more conventional coffees. 

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido 

In this roast analysis, we will be exploring the characteristics and flavor of a Guji Ethiopia natural coffee that has been decaffeinated through a Mountain Water process. As is known coffees from this region are grown at high elevations in Ethiopia, resulting in high density – In this case, 751g/l. The Mountain Water process was able to preserve the unique flavors and aromas of the coffee and here I’m going to share some inputs I have used to bring them out. 

My batch size was 5.5lbs on a 5 kilos Diedrich. I started my roast charging at 407.7F. This was the first roast of the day, which means that my drum was a little hot, but this coffee can take it. I decided to use air to help me observe how the coffee will land at the turning point. (1:24 /181.8 F) A little hot, but with the airflow this was okay, and helped develop florals while also controlling the heat. As I have said before this is a dense coffee that also came with 9.7% moisture, which is a little low but expected in a decaf. I translate that moisture number as “go a little short and fast during Maillard” and then give some sweetness later in post-development. And that was what I did. 

I started lowering gas at 207F and closing the air, marking color change at 307.6F, and lowered to 30% gas at 329.8F. In the middle of yellowing, I started 50% air again and marked zero gas, which gave me a great landing on the first crack, with 100% air (which I have learned to do automatically even if I don’t get to mark it). Everything was going great but the air started dropping my heat and I wanted to give this coffee a long development time. I wanted some caramelization here. Regardless I let it run for 2:06, rate of rise started marking negative, so I set back my gas to 30% just to help a little. Good thing that I have not read the purists of the roasting world so I can do these things, because the final cup tasted simply great. Here is the copy-paste of the cupping notes from Cropster:  

Lemon (2) Banana, Brown Sugar, Buttery, Cannabis, Caramel, Citrus, Cocoa, Floral, Fudge, Fruity, Grape Jasmine, Lime zest, Little citric, Melon, Mild floral Ethiopia, Milk Chocolate, Nougat, Oat Raspberry, Soft Sweet tea like. 

This floral decaf with great acidity is going to become the new espresso option. I just had a sip this morning and it is simply tasty! I know we must be gentle with decaf, but I believe every coffee has its own personality and its own needs.  

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman 

Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.  

Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing! 

Time for a full-throated proclamation: I love decaf.  

Being able to enjoy a coffee after dinner – heck, after 2pm these days – is a luxury. Not to mention enjoying a cup of coffee after a day full of cuppings! Decaf is a blessing for coffee lovers, and especially those who love the taste of coffee even without the buzz. So, this delicious decaf is a boon to my caffeine-addled existence in more ways than one.  

Generally, I start off my decaf roasts rather gently, applying a lower charge temperature, introducing fan a little early, and allowing the coffee to develop as evenly as possible. Think like you’re roasting a low-density coffee like Brazil; even if it was originally a density monster like this Ethiopian lot, the decaffeination process tends to expand the seed, opening it up and making it effectively less dense. This coffee, however, is just as dense – no, perhaps even more dense – than most arrivals. However, I didn’t know this at the time, and roasted just like usual.  

This roast started with a 437F charge temperature, F2 fan, and P7 power which is low indeed. At peak RoR, I increased fan speed to F3.. And basically stayed there until it was almost time for crack to happen. At 7:30 / 370F, I increased fan speed to F4, and decreased heat application to P6 shortly afterwards. After crack, I reduced further to P5 and just rode out the rest of the roast, garnering 1:36 of post-crack development, and a final temperature of 395F, which is right where I wanted it. My roast loss was a little low on this coffee, but then again, so was the original moisture reading. I felt pretty good about this roast despite a little peakiness in the final few minutes. At only 10% roast loss, I thought I may have gone a bit too light, but the cup proved to be sugary and thick. 

In the cup, this coffee was just as sparkling and floral as it deserved to be. Big syrupy jasmine, plenty of lemony acidity, and a touch of thyme-like herbals made this coffee satisfyingly chuggable and complex. My Chemex brew of this coffee came out particularly syrupy, with a fudge-like chocolate note and some huge herbals. This coffee is going to play well in a filter or without, and I’m certain it will do well under pressure (in an espresso machine) as well.  

You can find my roast profile online here: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/flvnmw_v1SuSm2GTUuV__ 

 

Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Isabella Vitaliano  

Our current Ikawa practice compares two sample roast profiles, originally designed for different densities of green coffee. The two roasts differ slightly in total length, charge temperature, and time spent between color change in first crack. You can learn more about the profiles here. 

Our decafs have been slightly deceiving lately in that processing flavors are slim to none. So much so, that I snagged a bag of our CJ1517 Decaf Mexico Oaxaca home for a pour over and my roommates didn’t realize for days that they were drinking decaf… until the headaches began. This decaf Ethiopian coffee would without a doubt confuse my roommates (and the masses) on whether their cup is caffeinated or not. From lemon to cacao to floral these seemingly standard flavor notes have been super exciting to the whole team at The Crown when presented in this decaf form.  

It is always fun to see how coffees on the outer ranges of density specs perform. Will they fulfill their prophecies? The high-density roast had some lovely floral notes like jasmine, chamomile paired with chocolate, hazelnut, and a little raspberry. A sweet cup with layers of complexity and a silky mouthfeel that will beg the question if you want to start your day off with a decaf. The low-density roast had some slight florals but filled mostly with nougat, orange bitters, and peach tea. This cup felt slightly dusty and with a lower body and sweetness the decaffeinated flavor was showing itself a little bit in this roast. Doris and I much preferred the HD profile with all the classic attributes of a stunning coffee in a form that is gentle on those that are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.  

You can roast your own by linking to our profiles in the Ikawa Pro app here: 

Roast 1: Low Density Sample Roast 

Roast 2: High Density Sample Roast   

Brew Analysis by Joshua Wismans 

Special decafs are few and far in between, and we’ve found ourselves with an exceptional one this season. This natural decaf from Guji is perhaps the easiest coffee to brew I’ve ever come across. Every brew yielded a similar profile without anything wild presenting, while still reflecting the direction of the brew. Across the spectrum you’ll find notes of marzipan, fig, peach, and pie crust.  

To begin our brew analysis, we started started with a ratio of 15.79 and slightly finer grind. In classic Ethiopian fashion we had an exceedingly long brew time, however with a relatively low TDS of 1.3. While we may usually aim for a higher TDS, the coffee still had plenty of body and sweetness with notes of spice, maple, and stonefruit. We were extremely pleased with the palatability of this coffee. 

For the next few brews we tried to stretch this coffee in both directions. We made the grind a bit finer and increased the dose to bring up the TDS. This roast had a touch more maple syrup weight to it, but ultimately shared a similar profile. After that, we brought the dose down but made the grind finer still.  This brought out something slightly more tropical in the profile, but that oaty, buttery sweetness persisted, presenting something reminiscent of banana bread, in the best possible way. 

To reiterate my initial sentiment, this coffee shines no matter what. That being said, a low dose and fine grind on a conical brewer seem to concentrate the sweetness into something tropical while also preserving that pastry sweetness that makes this coffee so delicious. 

Espresso Analysis by MJ Smith 

Recipe 1: 18.5g dose, 39g yield, 28 seconds
Recipe 2: 19g dose, 38g yield, 31 seconds 

Hooray! Another exciting decaf Crown Jewel! On top of the fact that I just released my new (and decaf-centric) signature beverage the Decompresso. I’m also currently on a caffeine cleanse, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard that we were getting a new decaf from Ethiopia! I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite parts of working here is the fact that we get so many incredible decaf coffees coming through our bar. For a large part of my coffee career, I was stuck in that “Death Before Decaf” mentality, but that was only because I had never been exposed to the kind of high-quality decafs we’re working with here in our Crown Jewel program. This coffee was super easy to work with on the espresso bar, too. Each recipe I tried was delightfully sweet, buttery smooth, and packed full of flavor.  

The first recipe I want to discuss starts with a coffee dose of 18.5 grams and pulled with a yield of 39 grams at 28 seconds. This was actually the third recipe I tried, but the first one I want to talk about because it was just that good. Right off the bat, my taste buds were greeted by an intense sweetness, notes like honey, sweet corn, and molasses. It also had some enticing, eye-opening acidity in the form of Rainier cherry, apple cider, elderberry, and a slight citrus. Now throw all that in a pot and add a bit of chocolate and herbs, and you’ve got yourself a darn good shot of decaf Ethiopian! 

My runner-up recipe this week comes in at a 19g dose, a 38g yield, and pull time of 31 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, this shot was also incredibly delicious, it was just a little heavier on the chocolatey-graham cracker side of things. To break it down, I picked up notes of spiced orange, dark chocolate, graham cracker, sweet tea, kiwi, and white nectarine. On the tail end, I was also able to pick up just the tiniest bit of arbol chile spice. This recipe might be better for milk-based drinks, as it has that little extra bit of chocolatiness holding it down.  

Like I said, this coffee was really easy to work with on bar and tastes great at a variety of different doses. I did notice that this coffee drops really fast, with the first drop typically around the 4 second mark, but then slows down a lot as it’s pulling. Just something to keep in mind when you’re dialing this in for yourself! I really love this coffee and can’t wait for it to be added to our lineup of featured espressos here at the Crown. Hope you like it as much as I do! Cheers!