• Rating: [rating:4/5]

You make your picks, you takes your chances… that’s how it goes when you bid on coffee at auction. Will the coffee be everything that you found in the auction sample? Will it be shipped carefully and travel well? Will it arrive — and clear customs — sometime in the next… Idunno, twelve months, maybe?

Such is the story of the coffee Green Mountain won in the 2006 eCafe Gold Competition — an auction program that highlights some of the best and brightest cups in all Ethiopia. A Garden Coffee The program includes both washed and natural process coffees, and — while washed Ethiopians (typified by over-the-top, face full of flowers aromas of Yirgacheffe) still rule the Ethiopian market — it’s the unwashed, natural coffees that stole the show in the 2006 auction. We placed our bets on a brilliant and fruit-forward cup from the Shanta Golba cooperative, a garden coffee grown in the far reaches of Sidamo. And then we waited.

And waited…

Until finally, just a scant few weeks ago, our coffee arrived. Nearly a year after the auction closed.

Now you well know that the clock is ticking when coffee’s been roasted… you have only a matter of weeks (just how many is still argued) to enjoy that bean. The clock ticks for green, unroasted coffee, too. You may not watch the second-hand sweep so intently, maybe, but there’s an undeniable tick-tick-tick playing in your head just the same.

Green coffee tends to lose its intensity over time and its flavors can become brittle, its finish can fall off, and there’s the very real danger that it will take on “off” flavors… those that have nothing to do with the coffee itself, and everything to do with how it’s been stored, or what it’s been stored in. (Nobody likes coffee that tastes like a jute bag. Nobody.) So you might imagine the anticipation in the air, and the white knuckles of that first test roast of the now-landed coffee, and the anxiety around the tasting table to discover… that this was an excellent cup of coffee, still. Maybe not so bright as it was eleven months ago, but maybe a little more rounded, too.

Extremely fruited, with peach and blueberry aromas, and a little whiff of cocoa and cinnamon when wetted. Fruit plays large in the flavor, too… blueberry, strawberry, spiced peach and cardamom, with a dark chocolate understory. The finish, while not everything it was a year ago, it still sweet and resonant, and fades to a pleasant, dusky leather. Yeah, this is one of those coffees you think about dabbing behind your ears, too.

Want some? Better hurry. The very last batch that Green Mountain has available was roasted on Monday, and there are probably fewer than 50 pounds remaining. Or, our good friend Barry Jarrett got some, too, and I know he roasted a batch just last week. I’m really, really hoping he gets around to shipping some of his this way ’cause I’d love to compare them side-by-side, ’cause how often do you get to do that?1

The final word? Recommended.

  1. Not very often. Seriously. []

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