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We always get excited about the opportunity to try Cup of Excellence (CoE) coffees. It's an international competition that is about as objective as can be, since it's all based on blind tastings by highly qualified judges. You can read a bit more about the competition below, but this particular lot has even more going for it. 2020 was actually the first year that the CoE competition was held in Ethiopia, a country which is known for the quality of its best coffees. We're very excited to try one of the first winners of these prestigious awards, from one of Africa's best producers.
It's also worth mentioning that Origin Coffee Roasting is intimately connected to our history with Cup of Excellence coffees. They've brought the lion's share of these award winning lots into South Africa. In fact, in the last decade and a half, they have imported and roasted no less than 23 CoE coffees! We've had the privilege of tasting many of them, and they have been incredible.
This particular lot was grown by Gemeda Elias Dube, a 32 year old farmer who has been cultivating coffee since he was a teenager. After learning the ropes on his father's farm in the Guji region, he started his own operation at the age of 21 and has focused on producing high quality lots. He actually had two award-winning lots at this first Ethiopian Cup of Excellence competition!
You can learn more about this coffee and the Cup of Excellence competition in our podcast episode with Joel Singer, owner of Origin Coffee Roasting.
About the Cup of Excellence
Cup of Excellence is a competition organised by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence - an American non-profit organisation which aims to benefit coffee farmers by helping them improve the quality of the coffee they grow. By recognising the top quality coffees in each country, they allow farmers to reap the benefits of significant efforts to produce the best crops.
Cup of Excellence entrants are scored through extensive blind taste-tests by highly qualified coffee professionals. The top coffees within a particular country are allowed to bear the Cup of Excellence name, meaning that they were scored among the highest. This award is given not to a farm or farmer, but a particular lot of coffee, sometimes just a few hundred kilograms.
This Cup of Excellence competition was a particularly exciting one as it was the very first held in Ethiopia, and it almost didn't happen because of the Coronavirus outbreak! You can read more about how they pulled it off in Barista Magazine's article.
Phaedon's tasting notes
It's been a real pleasure to spend a bit more time with this coffee. I've enjoyed a bag at home, and tried it at Origin HQ. I'd highly recommend it as espresso, though I personally wouldn't recommend having it with milk. I also loved it in manual brew methods like my French press, Chemex, siphon and AeroPress.
This coffee is decidedly complex, and it has lots of different sides to its personality. In espresso I found the prominent flavour note was an intriguing savoury spiciness, a little like cardamom, but with a candy-like finish. In manual brew methods, particularly paper-filtered ones, it was much more like drinking tropical fruit juice. In some cups I got a bit of strawberry. It also has a lovely, creamy mouth feel and it's quite a bit bolder than your typical high quality Ethiopian lot. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm sure you will too.
CoE judging notes:
- Aroma/Flavour: Tootsie roll, bakers chocolate, spice, apricot, tropical, black currant, plum, sugar cane, orange, chocolate, berry, green mango, orange, chocolate, prune, solid, well balanced, refined, caramel
- Acidity: Clear, medium phosphoric, malic, tartaric, intense
- Other: Dark chocolate, sweet, raspberry cordial, complex, long sweet finish
- Flavour: Flowery litchi, plums, Fanta grape, gianduja, elegant & refined, sugarcane sweetness, very long finish
- Body: Velvety & full-bodied
- Roast: Light-medium
- Acidity: Complex, balanced, ripe red plum
- Brewing: Pour-over / Chemex, AeroPress, espresso, milk-based espresso
Owner: Gemeda Elias Dube
- Town: Shakiso
- Region: West Guji, Oromia
- Country: Ethiopia
- Altitude: 1,878 - 1,998 masl
- Varietals: Kurme
- Processing: Natural
- Award: #19 Ethiopia Cup of Excellence (2020)
- CoE Score: 87.79
- Auction lot size: 1,035kg