Help with Ethiopians for pourover

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
mwb5007
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#1: Post by mwb5007 »

I recently went through a couple months where I drank maybe 6 different Costa Ricans - 3 Black Honey a Red Honey and a Geisha - and all of them were really strong in strawberry and blueberry front of the mouth flavors.

I just moved to two Ethiopians from JBC, a roaster who always has highly rated beans and with whom I am acquainted, and I just can't seem to dial in the fruits. I am really not all that familiar with Africans having experienced Kenyans AAs most often but I always read how fruity the Ethiopians are. The roast was "light" but more light/medium to my lights and both carried a 94 rating from "Coffee Review".

I tried both Chemex and V60 methods, both of which I am very familiar with, and ran everything from 3 minute to 4.5 minute extractions and while I got a smooth, elegant and very balanced cup, they lacked in complexity and certainly in depth of fruit forward in the mouth...... and I can't figure out why?

Is this just what an Ethiopian IS? I am not going to take up a lot of time on technique; suffice it to say I have pretty much experience and I adjust things like bloom times and durations for extraction across the 3 phases of the brew (first pour, second pour, third pour...etc.). Of course advice is welcomed but I am looking to find out if the is just a characteristic of Ethiopians with pour over methods and the BIG fruit is in espresso or should I not give up on them and try something more radical (BIG grind size change or temperature change - I used 205) because it was just ME who failed to extract what IS there?

My grinder is an ODE Gen 2 ....and while that is not very exotic to the illuminated here, I managed to pour outstanding cups from all the Costa Ricans I just went through. (PS. The previous 6 months or so to the Costa Ricans, I spent with Panamanian and Himalayan coffees which were uniformly delicious!)

Thanks for the help, the expertise on Home Barista is really astounding as is the community at large; what a relief from the downward spiral of so many other social sites!

jdrobison
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#2: Post by jdrobison »

Most Ethiopians that I'm brewing on pour-over are finished inside of 3 minutes for the best results. Although lately I've been blooming at 160F so times are different. This morning's was a 2 min bloom at 160F followed by 2 pours, each drawing down in exactly 1 minute. Tomorrow I'll back that off to a 1 min bloom to compare. Very little, if any, agitation (I use a Melodrip, in fact).

I'm using a Kalita Wave and haven't brewed on V60 in many years (and never Chemex) so can't really say how to compare with what you're doing. But I am grinding with the gen 2 Ode and do get good results.

I moved away from JBC many years ago because they were pretty hit and miss for me. Espressos were good but filters were mostly a miss with a roast level that was a bit much for my tastes. Especially the Africans. YMMV but that was my experience.

The region, itself, will be a factor. Sidama, for example, doesn't show the fruit that I like.

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Jeff
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#3: Post by Jeff »

One thing that I find with many Ethiopians is that they tend to create more fines than, for example, Central or South American coffees.

I know that Coffee Review gets a lot of hits from the search engines, but I have not found their reviews to be very useful for me. They have a "pay for play" policy that also includes a discount if you are an advertiser with them, at least at the time that I am writing this.

mwb5007 (original poster)
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#4: Post by mwb5007 (original poster) »

Good information - and I ill try a faster extraction, also I am finding more fines so I tomorrow I will increase the grind size a touch and lengthen my bloom ( possibly divided) to a minute from 45 seconds. I had been doing a single 45 second bloom during which I used almost no agitation and poured slow enough to be like osmotic followed by one more shorter (50 gram) then two longer (100 gram and then a 150 gram center pour) - but I think I can manage a 1 minute bloom followed by a two pours of 1 minute each - We'll se what 3 minutes does, thanks!

I get the JBC comment, the roasts are a bit darker than I normally prefer however I got one of their small bag premium Costa Ricans which was similar in color but it was really excellent in the cup.

But so far it looks like maybe I am just not that into the African profile .......

bznelson91
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#5: Post by bznelson91 »

I second @Jeff's comment regarding fines - that's been biting me a lot lately. It's interesting that the OP's observation is that the South Americans may be more fruity than Ethiopians; the reverse seems to be true for me, but I haven't really looked hard at my brew history. You also mentioned that it may be a little towards the medium side of roast; that can certainly mute the fruits in favor of nuts/chocolate and the like.

Having said all of this, I just did a cup that's a Colombian blend, which is totally not my usual bean, and it proved to be much more fruit forward than I'd expect, so it really just depends. You're focusing on percolation methods, and that definitely tends to favor the fruits in my experience.

I also have the Ode Gen 2; if you're game for more experimentation try the "paper towel method" of reducing some fines and try another V60 pour, but keep agitation to a minimum and don't let the water level get too low between pours. Maybe drop the temp a few degrees as well.

Good luck!

Brad

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luca
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#6: Post by luca »

I'm somewhat relieved to read this post. Before 2020, probably 1/3 of my annual coffee purchases were Ethiopian coffee, perhaps more. Since then, and this is a generalisation, I noticed a dramatic drop in quality across the board. The coffees that we got on the Australian market were all of a sudden baggy, hay-like, astringent and lacking in fruit. Previously, 86 point Ethiopian coffees weren't hard to find, it wouldn't be too difficult for me to buy 88 point + Ethiopian coffees and now I was struggling to find anything better than about 83.5. But the tasting notes and descriptions on the webpages were basically unchanged from pre 2020.

I commented about this to a few people. When I asked regular industry people and most consumers about this, people looked at me like I was mad. Young, new baristas condescendingly "educated" me that what they were charging me for was a very fine example of Ethiopian coffee and that the flavours that I was talking about were only things that you get from panama geisha. My geek squad here that I often do group buys, calibration cuppings, cafe visits, etc, agreed with me. I reached out to some roasters and green buyers that I trust, and, behind closed doors, many of them confided that, yes, quality of what we are getting on the Australian market by and large is down. Some of the roasters said they had stopped buying Ethiopian coffees. Some of the importers said that they felt Australian roasters won't pay for better quality.

I assume that the US market isn't quite as bad, since the Australian market has difficulties compounded by a weak AU/US exchange rate, but the Ethiopian coffees that I have tasted from the US over the last few years generally have been a little down in quality from earlier years.

I don't read Kenneth Davids' reviews and haven't looked through the webpage for a while, but if it is a consumer focussed expert review webpage, I assume if you dig through it, he will have explored this phenomenon and explained it to you, since the most obvious place where a coffee reviewer could add value to their readers over the last few years would be in helping them to navigate the market of currently available Ethiopian coffees with the reviewer's expertise and experience standing up against the commercial interests of coffee roasters in staying silent about any quality drop.

If you have time, set aside 40 minutes and read Christopher Feran's recent post on coffee buying in Ethiopia. It's not straightforward:

https://christopherferan.com/2023/04/09 ... -ethiopia/
mwb5007 wrote:I recently went through a couple months where I drank maybe 6 different Costa Ricans - 3 Black Honey a Red Honey and a Geisha - and all of them were really strong in strawberry and blueberry front of the mouth flavors.
To be fair to the ethiopian coffees, these varieties and processing methods suggest that you are buying coffees that are of a relatively high quality.
mwb5007 wrote:I tried both Chemex and V60 methods, both of which I am very familiar with, and ran everything from 3 minute to 4.5 minute extractions and while I got a smooth, elegant and very balanced cup, they lacked in complexity and certainly in depth of fruit forward in the mouth...... and I can't figure out why?
I don't know what your dose is, so this is fairly meaningless to me. I'd try for a 2.5 min extraction with a v60 from 12g of coffee. Pour quite a lot of water through it, remove the bit that you want to drink and keep brewing the next bit into another vessel. Taste the extra brewed bit and see if it is hay-like, astringent, bitter and otherwise fairly bland. As the others have said, generally you'll need to grind coarse for Ethiopian coffee.
mwb5007 wrote:Is this just what an Ethiopian IS?
I think I've sort of addressed this above. Usually, when I point out some deficiencies in the cup of particular types of coffee, people come along to comment about how the coffee of that type that they have is different, and they don't have any negative characteristics in it.

All I can say is that before 2020, every year I'd find a few Ethiopian coffees that were pretty much similar in style and better in quality than many good panama geishas. Obviously it was disgraceful that these coffees traded at a fairly "standard" specialty coffee price, and consumers (retail consumers, but also roasters and importers) may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg by not working out how to get sustainable and sensible returns back to the producers of these coffees.
LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes

jdrobison
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#7: Post by jdrobison »

All I can say is that before 2020, every year I'd find a few Ethiopian coffees that were pretty much similar in style and better in quality than many good panama geishas.[/quote]
I would agree. It does seem that I come across far fewer exceptional Ethiopians the last few years.

jdrobison
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#8: Post by jdrobison »

mwb5007 wrote:Good information - and I ill try a faster extraction, also I am finding more fines so I tomorrow I will increase the grind size a touch and lengthen my bloom ( possibly divided) to a minute from 45 seconds. I had been doing a single 45 second bloom during which I used almost no agitation and poured slow enough to be like osmotic followed by one more shorter (50 gram) then two longer (100 gram and then a 150 gram center pour) - but I think I can manage a 1 minute bloom followed by a two pours of 1 minute each - We'll se what 3 minutes does, thanks!

I get the JBC comment, the roasts are a bit darker than I normally prefer however I got one of their small bag premium Costa Ricans which was similar in color but it was really excellent in the cup.

But so far it looks like maybe I am just not that into the African profile .......
If you like those fruit-forward Costa Ricans, I think you'll enjoy many of the African's, as well. But they do tend to be denser and harder to squeeze the juice from.

FWIW... Especially with the ones that produce so many fines, I prefer to use my December dripper. Some of them I just need to grind coarse and then control the flow manually.

mwb5007 (original poster)
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#9: Post by mwb5007 (original poster) »

Thanks for the good info .... I am hoping to pick up one of those Weber BIRDs when they drop and that will give me a no bypass immersion brewer which sounds like is the way to go if you really open up the grind size.

BTW, I am using a 16:1 ratio and generally brewing a 16 or 17 gram portion into a v60 01 or Chemex 3 cup. I used the method I mentioned I'd try above and with a bigger grind size I got a better result however I think I can do better. If I really enlarge the grind size and figure a way to immersion brew instead of percolate, do I keep the same proportions? It seems like if I use a larger grind size I would be INCREASING my immersion time or my coffee would be thinner no?

bznelson91
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#10: Post by bznelson91 »

In general, one would use more coffee per water dose for immersion methods.

Brad