Review: St. Ali Coffee Ethiopia Barkume Tome, washed (Melbourne, Australia)

Australia is a country with a reputation for outstanding coffee, so when I had the chance to spend a few days in Melbourne earlier this year, I made it a point to buy fresh beans from as many roasters as I thought I could handle. My first coffee stop on this visit was the St. Ali cafe on Yarra Place. Many of the cafes in Melbourne are located in alleys/side streets covered with funky street art, so I sometimes had to search a bit for signage indicating where the coffee shops were. Once I found St. Ali, I took in the high ceilings and the warm wood tones all around. It was a lovely interior (sorry, no pics!). I was momentarily confused because the entrance had a little host’s desk and the lady stationed there asked me if I wanted a table (table service at a coffee shop?). I explained I really was just there to buy beans so she graciously directed me to the register where all the beans were stacked along the wall. I chose this washed Ethiopia for its freshness, since this was toward the beginning of my Australia trip and I knew I wouldn’t be able to open these beans for a while.

Whole bean: Notes of cocoa but more complex than simply chocolate… sweet with a light floral/herbal perfume.

V60: Syrupy texture. The flavor was mild overall and tasted of cocoa powder with some herbal notes (I tasted leaves, somehow…). Honey on the finish.

AeroPress: Confounding mix of flavors in this cup but it was pretty good! I couldn’t decipher most of what I tasted but I definitely got hibiscus, meyer lemon, and honey.

Chemex: Similarly syrupy to the V60 cup but no cocoa was present here; more floral notes and more reminiscent of tea than coffee.

French press: Lighter in color than the Chemex cup. I hadn’t written anything further in my notes about this preparation so I’m not sure about the flavor but it probably wasn’t as much of a standout for these beans as the other methods.

Summary: My first introduction to Australian coffee roasters, and it was a pretty good one. I enjoyed this coffee in a variety of methods but my personal favorite was probably the Hario V60. The AeroPress cup, while enjoyable, was SO layered and complex to the point that I couldn’t figure out what I was drinking, and it made me feel dumb!

From the roaster: No notes provided

St. Ali online store

Review conducted 8 days post-roast.

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