It's not every day that you can say you've tasted the best coffees of your life, but today I can. The finest, purest sun-dried coffees I've ever laid against my palate - and one unbelievable washed sample - set the tone for what I hope are a great few weeks of stellar, meticulously cultivated micro-lot arrivals. Two sun-dried (natural) small lots from around the kebeles of Michile and Beloya proved to me that all all of the work on the farm level and in the cupping lab has been worth it. New standards have been set. 90 points is no longer any joking matter. I cupped these coffees against our Novo Adado, Hache, and last year's Idido Misty Valley. And I have to say - our previous standards for quality in sun-dried Ethiopians tasted downright rough. I scored Hache 84 points, Adado 82. For 90 points, the coffee must make the taster fall in love.
Michile Area Microlot - 91 points
Right from the dry fragrance (92 points), this cup showed a very clear expression of pineapple to go along with dried coffee fruit and strong berry notes I hesitate to name - the berry wasn't obviously one type or another - closest to strawberry maybe but without specific strawberry nuance. The cap and break were no disappointment (90 Points) - the cap had a similar, less intense berry smell, and the break again revealed pineapple, as well as a slight liquor-like quality that foreshadowed a great flavor note to come. On my first pass (90 points), the liquid had juicy acidity, butterscotch liquor and simple berry fruit. On the second (91 points) the pineapple re-entered the liquor, and on the third (91.5), the coffee deepened almost to buttery in body where it had started caramelly.
Beloya Area Microlot - 92 points
Where the Michile had pineapple, this one had peach, and deeper, baked berries in the fragrance (92 points). The cap showed an herbal note that was somewhere between sweet grass and garden rue and the break brought the berries and peach right back (92 points). The base of this coffee was broader, acidity softer, and the coffee seemed to plant daffodils across the broad platform of the palate, while the soft peach skin flavor mingled with the berry and got more intense from first to third pass (91.5, 92, and 92.5 points, repectively). The unique herbal note added an additional note of complexity to what through the session became the best coffee I've ever tasted.
These coffees and other arrivals deserve to be cupped several times to discover the full scope of their flavor prior to vacuum packing and shipping to the U.S. It may be a few more weeks before they hit the water (or take the plane!) to the Novo roasting machine. Keep it warm, Semeon!