Perhaps you remember our last coffee from Ethiopia (MULU). That was a super juicy bag of delights, and if you happen to like African coffees - our latest batch here (TSUKURU) is sure to please. This marks a rather big moment for us - as all previous coffees we've shared have been "washed" vs. this current "natural" processing method. What's the difference? Who (or what) is Tsukuru? Why are waterfalls so nice? Gather 'round the campfire and let's chat.
The real story behind this coffee involves a 1,200 mile road trip we recently took around California. Armed with approximately way too much coffee and a few bicycles, we departed Los Angeles and made our way up the coast. First stop was Santa Barbara - obviously for some beer at Fig Mountain Brewery, countered by espresso at Handlebar Coffee Roasters.
-- Just in case you missed it - see our Bicycle Lover's Guide to Coffee guide which includes Handlebar plus several others --
Loaded up with even more coffee (thank you KIM from Handlebar), we made it up to the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara Wine Country) to enjoy a weekend of bicycle riding and wine sippin'. Time here was far too short - but nothing quite beats a morning coffee with views like the one above. Particularly enjoyed our post-100 mile ride feast @ Industrial Eats and several glasses of vino at the adorably tiny Carhartt Tasting Room in Los Olivos.
Up until this point (approximately one week ago), we had yet to identify which coffee to showcase on our 3/20 roast. Having absconded from Los Angeles for the week made it all the more difficult to adhere to the standard "cupping" schedule that typically allows us to pick the lucky winner. Fortunately, we partner with the most badass coffee importer-roasters in the business (Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders) - who informed of us a new arrival that we needed to taste. Through some clever planning, Bodhi shipped a sample to our remote NorCal Airbnb where we spent the next few days.
We're constantly on the hunt for delicious roasts - and rarely are looking to repeat ourselves. For the most part, we feature "washed" coffees (where the cherry is removed immediately after processing and the beans soaked in water). The sample we received from Bodhi Leaf was an Ethiopian "natural" - where the cherry is left to dry directly on to the beans, typically on raised beds directly in the sun. When done correctly, this imparts a ton of additional sugar (and fruit bomb vibes) on the coffee itself. When done incorrectly, it can lead to sour fermentiness ... ain't nobody got time for dat!
So we were especially pleased to brew up a batch of this little wonder from the road. It arrived on the morning of our departure from the Bay Area (with a long day of crossing the Sierras ahead). We brewed our first batch of this coffee with a view of Bridal Veil Falls along the El Dorado Freeway about an hour west of Lake Tahoe.
Chances are pretty good that you've tried a "natural" Ethiopian coffee before. They tend to jump out in a very big way (in the same way that a big Napa Valley cab might ... aka, not subtle). What surprised us with this particular coffee was that it wasn't completely obvious - in fact, it's balanced (clean) enough to pass as a typical "washed" coffee. It doesn't bounce all over the place. It's amazingly juicy and full of tropical fruit (we catch pineapple), without being totally in your face.
We're super excited to share this roast with you - and eager to continue telling stories of coffee and adventures. Our journey continued last week to the Eastern Sierras, where several incredible things happened over the course of just a few days. We named this batch "Tsukuru" after an enchanting Haruki Murakami novel we wrapped up in front of an old potbelly fireplace from our tiny cabin in the woods. A few more photos below from the remainder of our time there (photo cred to Sarah Attar on the drone shots... and in case you missed it, our full Q&A with her is available here).
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