Intro by Chris Kornman
Under normal circumstances, early June arrivals from Ethiopia are rare, at least for high quality G1s like this washed, organic offering from Shakiso town in the Guji zone. Under a global shipping slowdown during concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention intense flooding displacing 200,000 people in Ethiopia and a locust invasion affecting the food security of nearly a million people in the country, it’s a surprise that coffee is here at all, to be honest, and would normally warrant celebration.
But frankly, it’s sobering to be thinking about coffee and colonialism in a climate of social outrage against racial injustice. Coffee, an indigenous African product predominately farmed by impoverished smallholders for consumption in the global north, is problematic. Supply chains for coffee the world over were built on the labor of exploited Black and Brown workers, much of which remains relatively unchanged today.
For this reason, Crown Jewels aren’t simply about sensory quality. Our focus on coffees that trade fairly and producers and supply chain partners with integrity and transparency is an important part of enjoying these (and, in our opinion, any) coffees. This Crown Jewel was chosen from a full container load of coffee purchased at an FOB cost in the 95th percentile (per the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide) of all coffee traded at this volume, and roughly the 90th percentile of coffee traded at this volume differentiated by quality. You can buy these beans by the full size bag here, if you prefer.
Why is this Crown Jewel more expensive per pound? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’ve rolled in the cost of UPS shipping to both business and residential addresses. We’ve added the labor of repacking 60kg bags into boxes that can ship by mail. We’ve spent hours roasting, grading, cupping, writing, brewing, analyzing, and discussing so you can have a leg up when the coffee arrives at your door. We’ve invested years of data analysis and sourcing expertise in this project so that you can trust us when we say “this coffee is worthy of the Crown Jewel moniker.”
So, to refocus on this coffee: Kayon Mountain Coffee Farm is a relatively new establishment in the Guji region, near the border with Gedeb, in the vast Oromia state. Founded by local families who call the town of Shakiso their home, the shareholders are no strangers to the coffee trade, having engaged in the coffee auctions for over thirty years. In 2012 they established the farm, Kayon Mountain, and when the ECX opened direct exports in 2017, they took the opportunity and ran with it.
The farm is managed by Ismael Hassen Aredo, and the establishment employs 25 full time workers and up to 300 people for seasonal help during the peak of harvest. It’s a large undertaking at roughly 500 hectares in size, and is about 50% planted with coffee, the rest being a mix of cabbage, indigenous shade trees, and natural forest.
Under the quality oversight of Processing Manager Safaii Jilo, Grade 1 washed coffees produced at Kayon undergo submerged fermentation for 24-36 hours, depending on the temperature of the environment. The water in the tanks is changed every 3-4 hours, and after washing and channel grading, the post-fermentation soak lasts for 3-4 hours as well. After 10-15 days drying on tables, the coffee will move to the warehouse to await dry milling and export.
This lot is characterized by exceptional balance. Mellow Meyer Lemon acidity and melon notes lay a juicy backdrop for delicate lavender and chamomile in both fragrance and flavor. We picked up pear and apple, honey and hibiscus, and a plethora of other delectable flavors singing in harmony.
Green Analysis by Elise Becker
Beyond being a worthwhile investment in an incredible producer, this high-quality, washed, organic Ethiopian offering has impeccable green stats that contribute to the exceptional cup quality of the coffee. We have average moisture content at 11.0% and average water quality at .579 @23.25C. An incredibly well-sorted coffee, the super tight screen size is about 84% 16-17. The density comes in above average at 698g/L (free-settled) so it may be rather heat resistant early on in the roast. Check out Candice, Evan, and Chris’s roasting notes for more on the right heat application for the best results.
The Kayon Mountain Coffee Farm is a large one at about 500 hectares, but only around 50% of that is coffee. The lot we have here consists of plant selections 74110 and 74112. The Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) made these selections in 1974 from wild populations due to their resistance to Coffee Berry Disease. They were approved for release in 1979 and remain widely popular now. Both selections are compact in stature and produce cherries of a small size. The rest of the farm not dedicated to coffee production is planted with a mixture of cabbage, indigenous shade trees, and natural forest.
Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman
We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor, and were recalibrated in September 2019.
Still roasting and cupping from home, this coffee provided a lovely aromatic pleasure on my small balcony in Oakland. I put the coffee through the paces on my recent trio of profiles and was pleasantly surprised by the results when I cupped the next day.
The “Standard” profile (blue) with its rapid heat delta painted a nice initial picture, highlighting the coffee’s melony and lemony flavors but leaving the floral notes in the backdrop. Acidity was nice, but the body a little thin, and the coffee verged slightly herbal as it cooled.
The “Low Airflow” profile (yellow) is not especially recommended for bright, washed, dense coffees like this, but I was curious and pleasantly surprised. There were lovely fragrances on the dry and break, but the fruit notes and acidity were suppressed. Surprisingly the floral flavors were on full display here, and the coffee was quite pleasant, if not particularly zippy.
It was the “Maillard +30” profile, (red) however, that really showed off this Kayon Mountain’s best qualities. Lush, round, and silky, the coffee just dripped with honey, green apple, and grape flavors. Subtler cantaloupe and loquat flavors lent a nice complexity, and a slightly earlier first crack gave the opportunity for just enough sugar browning to be juicy and sweet. A well balanced cup if there ever was one.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Roast 3: Crown 7m SR Low AF
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
I love roasting Ethiopian coffees. I love tasting Ethiopian coffees. It should come as no surprise that coffee from this country is some of the best in the world – coffee is Ethiopian, after all. Though I hadn’t roasted this coffee before, I knew I was in for a treat simply by the preparation of the green, and the way it smelled while I portioned out my 225g for roasting.
The slightly higher moisture content of this coffee led me to believe it would perform well as a mellow and sweet coffee, rather than a punchy acid-forward cup. The consistent screen size led me to believe it would take on heat easier than a less meticulously sorted lot, so my roast followed in step. As often happens with Ethiopian coffees (in my experience) everything worked out perfectly!
I started with P5 (100% heat application), and kept it there until I heard the first telltale puffs before first crack at 10:20, then engaged P4. Crack began in earnest just 10 seconds later at 10:30, and was very vigorous! Don’t get fooled by the first few pops before the cascading (and loud) popping you’ll get from this coffee when first crack truly begins.
Opening the door for 20 seconds at 10:40 to abate heat and smoke helped keep my coffee tasting clean and my apartment from getting too smoky all at once. I allowed the coffee to develop for 1:20 after first crack to get some nicely developed sugars.
I was not disappointed. My initial cupping got me deep brown sugar sweetness, crisp lemon acidity, and something purple. That purple note might be familiar to you as some sort of fruit – something between plum and blackberry, heavy with anthocyanins.
Read on below for my brew notes, as this was a fun but tricky coffee to brew. While delicious every time, paying close attention to how you brew this coffee will be a very rewarding experience..
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
This is my very first taste of Ethiopian coffees for this year, and opening this sample fresh from the mailroom was like having an early birthday present. This sweet coffee graced my countertop with sugary date, cantaloupe, and pear flavors, and bringing them out was a good bit of fun.
My first brew is generally a Chemex at a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. I performed my usual set of pours, as well: a 75g preinfusion for 45 seconds, and successive concentric 200g pours until the final weight (640g in this case). The result of my first try was tasty, with the aforementioned brown sugar coming through clearly. It was a bit thin, however, and the fruits were fairly indistinct. The brew was a bit underextracted, so it’s no wonder.
I decided to try agitation in order to create the change I wanted to see in the cup. As I preinfused my second Chemex brew, I stirred with a preheated spoon. After my final pour, I also agitated quite a bit during the drawdown. The result was, no surprise, a more thoroughly extracted cup! At 19.03% extraction, this coffee displayed clear peach, jasmine, dried cherry, and a rich milk chocolate texture. As it turns out, agitation works, and I’d recommend it highly.
My third brew was with the AeroPress, which I used in order to push the agitation to the extreme, while also including a full-immersion element to the brew to exaggerate the body of this coffee. The result of stirring during preinfusion, after filling the chamber, and during push-through on the AeroPress was a lushly floral cup with blaring boysenberry. Cups like this confirm my love of Ethiopian coffee, and bolster my confidence in the AeroPress.