It can be difficult to take clear stock of one’s cupboards while sitting at a table laden with an overabundance of food. Such is the case with the string of coffees from the most recent release. It is arguable that the menu has never been as full of world-class African lots as it is today. This summer I’ve spent many suspended, quiet morning moments either in my house, at a campground or next to a waiting river hesitating between choices. What’ll it be? The nectarous body and flavors of Duromina? Fresh pineapple and berries from Nano Challa? Huckleberry, candied lemon and strawberry from Mordecofe Reserve? Or the transparency and focus of Ngunguru? And later in the day, when it is time to chill, I’ll brew up a cup of Decaf Rwanda for its classically constructed cup. Also, as our own Willamette Valley harvest time gets into full swing, it is fun to find local aromatics and flavors that correspond to those found in these lots from areas further afield. That is, local blackberries mimic the juicy liquor of the Ngunguru, seasonal IPA’s match the hops and lemon of the Mordecofe Reserve and fresh peach notes are plucked daily from the profiles of Duromina and Nano Challa.
Beyond these facts found in the cup, there lies a series of relationships that have found increasing success from year to year. Stumptown’s foray into Western Ethiopia was undertaken only three years ago, and already improvements on the ground there have shown up as consistent, exceptionally high cup quality from Duromina and Nano Challa. Haile Gebre from Mordecofe managed to elevate a coffee already considered a backbone to our yearly menu to the even more elite level of Grand Cru and the decaf lot from Rwanda helped strengthen and solidify Stumptown’s relationships with our long term producer partners there.
And finally, to complete the circle, the complexity of these coffees has presented us as roasters, baristas and brewers a grip of challenges in roasting and presentation. When green coffee is in possession of such dynamic potential, every tool in our personal and professional arsenal must come to bear at every step along the path to presentation to ensure that we don’t sacrifice a single nuance. Coffees of this quality are truly humbling.