What’s Brewing: Kayon Mountain – Ethiopia (Natural)

In the latter half of 2016, a number of fantastic coffees come through my usual green bean supplier Ministry Grounds. This naturally processed Ethiopian certainly stood out, resulting in a repeat order for an additional couple of kilograms to go into the yearly festive blend given to family and friends at Christmas. There may have also been the expectation a little would be “left-over”, which I would have to take care of myself of course!

The Region

In relation to Shakiso and its surrounds, where the Kayon Mountain farm is located — Wikipedia tells us:

Shakiso is a town in Southern Ethiopia, in the Guji zone of the Oromia region, an area known for gold and titanium mining, along with native forests. Guji is bordered on the south by Borena, on the west by the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, on the north by the Ganale Dorya River which separates it from Bale and on the east by the Somali Region. The highest point in this zone is Mount Dara Tiniro. Cities and major towns in this Zone include its administrative center, Negele.

Sorting station in Ethiopia (Photo by

Sorting station in Ethiopia (Photo Pete Lewis; Wikimedia Commons)

Many outstanding coffees originate in and around Guji, and it is not uncommon to see many pop up in the offerings of speciality roasters as the season comes around each year. Generally, if you are looking for some berry flavours in your cup, just about anything from this region would be a great place to start.

The Coffee

The following information courtesy of Ministry Grounds:

The Kayon Mountain coffee farm is a local family-run enterprise with over 30 years experience in the production of Guji coffees.

The family’s rich experience has included many years of seed selection and nurturing of heirloom local varieties. Two spring fed nurseries are maintained to for the planting of seedlings in the loamy-clay soils of Kayon and coffee is grown in a semi-forest environment under native Acacia trees.

  • Coffee: Kayon Mountain – Ethiopia
  • Region: Guji, Oromia
  • Area: Taro kebele, Odo Shakiso district
  • Altitude: 1900–2200 masl
  • Process: Natural
  • Varieties: Mixed Heirloom
  • Harvest: November-January
  • In the cup: Strawberries & cream, stewed apple, toffee & jam aroma, medium acidity, creamy body with notes of strawberry jam, cherry, blueberry, candied fruits & chocolate with a clean finish

The Brew

Here, things have been many and varied — from tasting and testing both filter and espresso roasts for the festive blend I’ve referred to above, to full immersion cold brewing, pour overs on ice, and the occasional iced latte (given the usual hot summer weather here in Brisbane).


A little of the annual Festive Blend ready to roll out the door

As I’ve alluded to above, an Ethiopian naturally processed coffee was a good place to start when seeking some berry flavours for the annual festive blend. With this flavour the predominant aim, the Kayon Mountain comprised 60% by weight, with the remaining 40% a washed El Salvador — Finca Patagonia — providing deeper plum notes for the filter roast. For the espresso roast, the remaining 40% was shared equally by the Finca Patagonia, along with Guatemala Ceylan, which added a little more body and chocolate flavours. Overall, the blends were reasonably successful in achieving my aim regarding the overall flavour profiles, and feedback has been positive from those who received some at Christmas.

The Kayon Mountain brewed as a single origin? Equally well received, however I must admit most of the small amount remaining I kept for myself.

When prepared as espresso1, a lovely rich cup resulted, with strawberry and blueberry flavours, followed by a rich chocolate finish. With milk as a latte or flat white, again those berry flavours were at the forefront, and combined with a little chocolate, the overall profile resembled a Cherry Ripe.

Even if purchased with filter brewing in mind, it is certainly worth running through your machine as well, regardless of roast level. I honestly don’t think you would be disappointed.

With filter brewing2, a clean, crisp, full flavoured cup ensued, with flavours of red berries, a hint of blueberry and chocolate with a creamy, medium bodied, lingering finish. Most of my filter brewing was done using a V60, along with kicking off many a December morning in the office with the AeroPress — both providing equally impressive results. As you’d expect, the V60 produced a cleaner, more nuanced cup, however there were no complaints about the AeroPress brew, from either myself, or my office coffee pals Tracey and Andrea, whom I must thank for determining the final ratios for the festive blend.


Anyone for another?

Last but by no means least cold brewing. Although a couple of 1 litre batches were indeed “cold brewed” using full immersion over 16-18 hours (similar to this method), I’m also partial to hot brewing and flash chilling — using a V60 over a jug of ice. This method simply involves around half of your usual brewing water already in the vessel as ice, with the remaining half off the boil as usual for brewing a V60 (the dose generally being a little higher than what you might otherwise use). If you’re interested and have not yet delved into the world of iced pour over brewing, perhaps use this as a guide.

Depending on your preference, while adding milk to either of these chilled brews is an option, doing so mutes a little of the richer berry flavours. When consumed black (my first preference, with only one test cup consumed with milk), I’d have to say it was definitely one of the more refreshing drinks I consumed over summer. When you have four or five 200ml bottles of cold brew stashed in the fridge, it becomes mighty hard to limit consumption to a reasonable level on those hot days.

The Finish

I think you get the idea.


Iced latte at the ready

I have been quite taken by this fabulous naturally processed coffee from the Kayon Mountain farm in Ethiopia. Having been put through a wide array of brewing methods over the course of the past few months, it handled all with aplomb.

My preference — despite enjoying it across all forms of brewing is probably by filter, although the bias introduced by these long, hot days of summer probably push the cold brew into first place.

If you are able to get your hands on some, I for one highly recommend it.

  1. For reference, espresso brewing was done on a Sunbeam EM7000, using a 1:2 brew ratio – that is 19-21g dose, yielding 40-44g in the cup. ↩︎
  2. My filter brewing is typically done at a 1:17 ratio. ↩︎

ChefSteps Coffee Class

I created a ChefSteps login a little while ago, on the assumption I would find some coffee related goodness along the way. This just released offering, the ChefSteps Coffee Class, with world-renowned experts James Hoffmann (former World Barista Champion and founder of Square Mile Coffee) and Ben Kaminsky (US Cup Tasters Champion) looks the business.

For a very reasonable $US14.00, you can avail yourself of:

  • Unlimited Access
  • 12 HD Videos
  • Step-by-step techniques for the best French Press, Chemex, Aeropress, and Cold Brew coffee ever
  • Amazing tricks for smoother coffee
  • 4 recipes for cooking with coffee

Alternatively, you might like to start with the free Espresso Course (12 HD videos).

Either way, get watching – and thereafter – brewing!

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesdaya weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

Study Hacks
Although specifically referring to mathematical proofs, there are enough hints here for broader applications. My favourite? Idea 1 – sometimes we just need to be specific, have clear aims, and deal with it:
How to Read Proofs Faster: A Summary of Useful Advice

1Password for iOS Tip of the Day
Along came this little gem in my Twitter feed recently – swipe right on 1Password (iOS) entries to copy the password. A cracker. It appears many others needed a little reminding about this great feature I was unaware of:
1Password Status

The Sweet Setup
As someone with less than 12 months Mac experience under my belt, tips like these come in very handy:
Quick Tip: Enable Hot Corners on OS X

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Nothing wrong with a little tech, but where are the pens and ink? Why here for starters:
Diamine Ochre ink review

Hastily Written
Lately I’ve been drawn to the red/orange/brown spectrum of ink colours, however on the opposite side of the rainbow, am also in need of a new blue. Food for thought here:
Ink Drop: July 2014

Office Supply Geek
If a little colour in a notebook is your thing, Brian takes a look at the turquoise Rhodiarama hard cover. Same Rhodia quality – just a little louder:
Rhodiarama Notebook Review

The Atlantic
Did you read my previous post on penmanship? Maybe a slightly different tangent from such an idea (which by the way wasn’t written this quickly):
How to Write 225 Words Per Minute With a Pen

Still Drinking
Of course punctuation matters, however as much as we think it does? Need I say more:

English is a mutt of a language, inheriting ludicrously contradictory spellings and grammars from other languages.

Nobody. Understands. Punctuation.

Barista Magazine Blog
I’m all for someone having a stab at the often elusive “where did this originate?” – perhaps the Dutch Traders in the South Pacific were the lucky souls that invented out of necessity. Although this low-acidity brew is not new, and something I have written about before, I’m interested to see how the trend has caught on in the modern Cafè scene. This series might be one to follow:
Completely Cold brew: Part 1 of a series

What’s Brewing – Panama Carmen Estate

English: View of the Rio Caldera from the home...

English: View of the Rio Caldera from the homemade bridge near Volcan Baru national park, Boquete. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I am hesitant to call something a good all-rounder, this is probably the most apt description for this variety from Panama’s Carmen Estate. This tag often carries with it the connotation of being solid without ever reaching any great heights. I don’t think that is probably a fair description of this crop, however is something I keep coming back to in trying to describe it for this review.

As I mentioned in my previous Coffee post, the expectation for this “honey” processed lot was for a fairly full-bodied brew with reasonably low to medium acidity. A little on the Carmen Estate from Ministry Grounds:

Carmen Estate is situated in the Paso Ancho Valley, which is located in the Chiriqui province, close to the border with Costa Rica in western Panama. Paso Ancho Valley lies on the western slopes of the Baru Volcano. The Baru is an inactive volcano located between the Boquete and Volcan-Candela areas. At 3,500 meters above sea level, the Baru is the highest point in Panama. The Baru Volcano has provided very rich, deep and fertile soils to the Paso Ancho Valley micro region. This coupled with regular rainfall and appropriate altitude are a key factor in the outstanding quality portrayed by the coffee produced in this micro region.

Expectations aside, how did it actually taste?

The Whack

– Panama Carmen Estate
– Altitude: 1250–1500mtrs
– Crop Year: 2013
– Varietal: Catuai Caturra Typica
– Processing: Washed

Latte; Hario V60 Pourover; Aeropress

Milk course – When brewed with milk, there is enough body to carry the drink, and a nice creamy finish, however the low acidity and overly subtle fruit flavours result in a fairly middle of the road experience overall.

V60 – Hints of stone fruit sweetness in this form of brewing; really came to life after most of the heat had come out of the brew. A fairly long, subtle finish. I suspect this would make a great cold brew.

Aeropress – Performed pretty well in this method. Noticeably low acidity, with undertones of the fruitiness seen in the V60 above. Both the V60 and Aeropress would be my preferred methods of consumption with this particular varietal.

Conclusion; Know this
Overall, a solid performer across most forms of brewing. A couple of points to note however. Firstly, the sweetness of the brew increased significantly as it cooled, and perhaps would be well suited to a cold brew. In addition, it would probably work quite well in a blend, providing some body in the middle and creaminess to the finish. I’m of the opinion it just needs a little more fruitiness to drive the overall flavour profile.

Rating 3.5/5

Wait…there’s more
Thankfully, brewing the Carmen Estate overlapped with another batch of roasting which included this Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a variety I have always found brings a lot of fruit to the cup.

Hence, a blend was created with 40% Carmen Estate, 40% Yirgacheffe, and 20% Indonesian Blue Batak. The Yirgacheffe added a great burst of fruitiness, with blueberry and lemon/lime flavours, whereas the Blue Batak provided a hint of spice, which together, improved the milk based drink significantly and really packed more sweetness into the V60 and Aeropress.

So to conclude, the Carmen Estate is certainly an enjoyable drink as a single origin, however is at its best when part of a blend with varietals that will provide a little more acidity and add to the overall flavour profile.

A Cold Brew Experiment


Coffee (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The tipping point. Another afternoon of weekday drudgery that could be picked up by the perfect brew.

The cafe that knows your name, your order and seemingly your every need is closed (and good luck to them having been there since 5am). Internally you would try yourself for treason if you go to another. What next? Why is this such an issue? Surely one cup of the instant stuff supplied in the office kitchen won’t kill you will it?

The answer is no but it sure almost felt like it. I have nothing against a large multinational making cheap instant coffee, it is just that in recent years I have not been able to stomach this brand. I’m not even sure why. Instant coffee is instant coffee and you may say its all bad, and I don’t necessarily disagree, however typically I am fine with most brands when that is all that’s on offer – just not the blend ending in 43.

So, I tempted fate and made a cup, consuming half. An uneasy feeling came ever me and the rest of the afternoon was spent feeling slightly ill. Rather than a little boost to my productivity, an afternoon of endless spreadsheets and a full inbox would now be dealt with on a background of vague nausea.

Thus, the tipping point. If you wish to complain then do something about it, or if you choose to do nothing, then shut up and stop complaining – oh and it’s also advisable to never make another cup of that stuff. Complaining done. The action? A task entered into Omnifocus to investigate cold brew concentrates, as a number of articles had also come through my feed reader recently about cold drip brewing and concentrates. Time to fight back!

Cold Brew Techniques

Though numerous techniques and equipment exist, I was looking for a simple way to have a cold brew concentrate made for the next day. A quick search revealed a few recipes:

The increase in recent articles on this topic such as those above, are largely due to the northern hemisphere summer, as many of the recipes focus on using the resulting brew in iced coffee mixes of varying types. However, the concentrate can be used equally well as a hot drink when mixed with boiling water.

My Method

The articles above list varying types of measures in determining the water to ground coffee ratio, which can be a little confusing when comparing articles (particularly whether the weight referred to is fluid ounces – a volume measure, or the actual dry weight). In view of this I went with the simplest recipe from the New York Times article as follows:

  • 1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee in a bowl
  • Stir in 1 and a half cups water (I used filtered)
  • Cover and let stand for 12 hours at room temperature (I refrigerated the mix)
  • Strain (I used an Aeropress) and serve
  • 1:1 with cold milk for iced coffee or the same ratio hot water (and a little more heat by microwave) for a hot coffee

As I have noted above, the exact technique I used varied a little from the original article, however the main starting point being the ratio of coffee to water. Using the Aeropress to strain and filter the resulting mix worked well as the liquid dripped through the filter over about 45 minutes or so, with the plunger only used to push through the last 10% as the amount of sediment increased on the filter paper. Any fine cloth sieve technique would work equally as well.

The Taste?

Though not perfect. For what I wanted? Absolutely spot on.

The first thing you will notice upon tasting a cold brewed coffee is the absence of acidity, irrespective of whether you are consuming it as a hot or cold drink. This particular element of the flavour profile is generated by heating ground coffee in the usual types of brewing. Some people would therefore consider this as a little bland, or “missing something” in the cup. Obviously they are correct, the acidity is the missing element.

The brew is one of the smoothest you will have tasted, and those looking for more ‘punch’, may need to play around a little with bean types, roast level and overall soaking or steeping times, which I plan to do in future brews to assess the results. The varietal used for the current brew was a light to medium roasted Central American origin from El Salvador. I have found with other brewing methods this is a subtle origin with notable acidity, and I am therefore looking to experiment with some South American origins that will provide a little more body for future cold brews.

The method I have outlined above provided 3 cups of hot coffee brewed at 1:1 ratio of water to concentrate and is certainly a technique I plan on continuing to use, because as we all know, few afternoons go by that could not be improved by a decent cup of coffee.

Do I feel smug making my ‘instant’ brew this way? Only when in the office kitchen adding hot water and I see the jar with the dreaded number on it out of the corner of my eye. It may say 43, but I give mine at least an 86–90 out of 100 and definitely think you should give it try.