Illubabor Baaroo, a Near Perfect Ethiopian Espresso

Illubabor Baaroo, a Near Perfect Ethiopian Espresso

Welcom to the Baaroo cooperative; IllubaborWelcom to the Baaroo cooperative; Illubabor
We've long touted Western Ethiopian coffees as some of the best Ethiopian coffees for espresso use, and the coffee from Baaroo is one we turn to year after year for SO espresso and for use in our own blends. It straddles the line between stone fruit and fine dark chocolate, and promises syrupy mouthfeel even in lighter roasts.

I roasted two batches on my Quest M3s with espresso in mind, an extended City+ and Full City being my two roast profile goals. I wanted to stretch out the time before first crack on both roasts in order to try and develop the sugary sweetness, but without baking it out altogether. Knowing that the Quest is a little slow to respond to heat adjustments, I increased my normal batch size from 90 grams to 100 grams, which extended my usual 6-7 minute 1st crack time to nearly 8 minutes.

For the City+, I let the roaster roll for 2:24 seconds beyond 1st crack (400F), the final temperature reaching 422F on the bean probe. For my Full City, I took it on up to 434F, still probably about 10F away from the beginnings of 2nd snaps. It took a full 3:00 minutes to reach this temperature, and I actually wound up opening to cooling tray lid to keep from stalling at about 429F. The roast progression seemed to be slowing to a near halt around 2:40 minutes after 1st crack began, and opening the rear lid cuts off airflow to the drum, the exothermic heat from the beans significantly increasing the charge.

I probably should've waited 48 hours before tasting, and my notes below are from pulling shots with 24 hours rest. Still, I really enjoyed the way the flavors meshed at only 1 day of off-gassing, fruited tones and citric brightness are well integrated, and I'm anxious to try another pull tomorrow morning.

Daily deliveries of coffee cherry ready for processing, Baaroo cooperativeDaily deliveries of coffee cherry ready for processing, Baaroo cooperative

City+: Going for 18 grams in, 18 grams out, the shot may be too bright for some folk's taste. Personally, I enjoy the lemony zip that comes with a nice washed Ethiopian espresso, reminding me of older days of shaved lemon rind hugging the rim of a demitasse filled dark roasted espresso (sans the bittering/ash flavors!). It really is quite a brilliance, and I think at this roast level, benefits from medium to longer pulls. At 18/18, I get dark chocolate diluted with lemon juice, a peach note, and soft floral accent in aroma. Body is surprisingly creamy at this roast level, and with the fruited flavors, is reminiscent of fruit juice on the palate. My grind was too fine for my first shot, and I barely squeaked out 10 grams of liquid. This shot was very puckering, and I found it to have a metallic flavor, and with a not so pleasant saltiness.

Full City: I found this darker roast to be near perfect for my taste, a deep, dark chocolate bittering flavor offset by sugar in the raw sweetness, and fruited accents weaving through it. The interplay of sweet and bitter tones is intense, building to a bittersweet climax, and dissipating ever so slowly in the aftertaste for what seems like minutes. A lemony tart note comes through too, but the initial hint up front is quickly overcome by the syrupy chocolate flavors that follow. Body is really viscous at Full City, the inky liquid washing over your palate, a thin, flavorful layer coating the tongue and incites your tastebuds. The aroma has elements of dried stone fruits, cherry spice cake, and just a hint of Cavendish tobacco in the finish.

The Full City roast is definitely my favorite of the two, bitter and sweet flavors are balanced, and while fruited notes and acidity are easily tasted, they're only part of what makes Baaroo an attractive espresso option. Baaroo is 1/3 of our Ethiopiques blend, and we find that it functions extremely well when used 50/50 with a washed Central or South America coffee. It adds anchoring bittersweetness, and the top notes mentioned above are toned down a bit when blended with a more straight-forward Latin American coffee without being obfuscated completely.

Read the full review of Ethiopia Illubabor Baaroo Cooperative HERE

Want to taste for yourself? Drop us an email and we'll include 200 grams with your next order -