Ethiopian Coffee Pairs With Almond and Peach

My journey with coffee began as a barista at Starbucks. It was a time just before they rolled in the automated espresso machines taking away the barista’s ability to time espresso brew to their customers taste.

One of the exercises we did weekly was to try each one of Starbucks coffees black. We then were given a small notebook to journal the top flavors that stood out. Naturally, once I got used to this, the pairings became obvious. If someone ordered a french press of Starbucks Ethopia Sidamo, I would also suggest a slice of lemon loaf.

I soon learned that the terroir and the farmer were the true controllers of the flavors the bean carries forward to the brewed coffee. Even planting the same coffee bean in the same country, but in different soils will yield two very different cups.

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Process

Wet, Dry, and Semi Dry

The Wet Process is a method for quickly determining which coffee bean fruit is ripe (sinks down) or not (floats up). Ripe coffee berries are pushed down and cleaned so they can be dried in the sun. There are several variations on how to get the smooth shiny green bean separated from the pulp including fermentation or mechanical scrubbing.

The Dry Process requires the farmer to select the ripe coffee cherries and dry them in the sun. The full dry time could take up to four weeks.

With the Semi Dry Process, the farmer removes all but the mucilage on the coffee bean, and let’s it sit for a day. Then the mucilage is washed off and the bean is left to sit in the sun until it reaches the optimal moisture content.

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Roasting

I have been roasting coffee for 2–3 years and while the larger scale operations are much more elaborate, the process boils down to this:

  • Heat the green coffee beans up to 470–480 degrees F.
  • Listen for a loud pop.
  • Listen for a quiet crack.
Green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.

My roasts take about 12 minutes with 5 tablespoons of green beans to a medium dark or dark roast. That 5 tablespoons will yield close to 10 tablespoons of roasted coffee. The roaster I use is made Nesco, which has fitted the glass reservoir with an auger that rotates and heats the coffee beans.

Each green coffee bean blend or single origin batch roasts at different speeds, so you’ll need your eyes and ears. You won’t need your nose due to the pungent smoke released during the roast. With my Nesco roaster, the smell is pretty well masked by the catalytic converter.

Pairing Examples

Africa has a wide variety of diverse climates and soils that you need to break things down a bit by region.

Ethiopia

Of the flavors mentioned in cupping journals for Ethiopian coffee, flavors like cherries and peach are included. But others say there is a strong citrus flavor, or a dark sweetness.

Agaro Coffee — white honey, toffee almond

Pairing Recipe: Toffee Almond Cheesecake

Yirga Cheffe Dumerso Coffee — fragrant stone fruit, tropical flavors, caramelized sugar.

Pairing Recipe: Peach Coffee Cake

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Links for Green Coffee Beans

Sweet Maria’s

My friend mentioned Sweet Maria’s out of Oakland years before I took him up on the suggestion. Their operations and newsletters feel very “mom-and-pop-shop,” but when you read the descriptions of their beans, roasting recommendations, and flavor profiles, you’ll quickly see they are masters at their craft.