Review: Sterling Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Shilicho (Portland, Oregon)

Shutterbug and I were wanting to revisit an old favorite recently with Sterling’s Blendo Stupendo espresso beans, and while we made that order, I poked around their website to see what other coffees they had available. I loved, loved, LOVED the Kenya Nyeri Gachatha AA I had purchased from them before so I was hoping they’d have another intriguing African coffee available, and this Ethiopia Shilicho definitely sounded like it fit the bill.

Whole bean: Lightly roasted, clean and spicy aroma with a bit of orange peel to it.

V60: This coffee gains more flavor as it cools – while the coffee was hot, my first sip didn’t taste like much but that changed over time. This tasted of candied orange peel and gingerbread, with a bit of spice hitting you right at the back of the throat. Really nice.

Chemex: More spicy heat on the back of the throat, and citrusy, layered and spicy flavors in every sip laced with brown sugar sweetness. Chewy, thick texture (which was surprising given the thick filter).

French press: Though the flavor in this brew method was nice and creamy and rich, the odor was much like dish soap. I always wash and rinse and dry my French press components thoroughly after every wash so I don’t think it was me, but who knows… it’s possible I did something terribly wrong here in my dishwashing! But, just to be thorough, I tried it a second time just now… and got the same results, but less pronounced. The beans are now much older (staler) than when I originally did the test, but I definitely still smelled a bit of detergent. However, as before, the coffee was rich and creamy and toasty and delicious. Confounding!

AeroPress: Spicy gingerbread flavor with a hint of mint. Interesting (though it really wasn’t my thing).

Espresso: I opted to try these beans pulled as single-origin espresso, just to experiment, and I think they were pretty nice. I wasn’t able to do as thorough a testing of espresso shots as I would have liked, due to time constraints, but the flavor was much like it was in the Chemex but just turned up a few notches. I did like this straight and with milk – with just a few ounces of milk added, it had a nice rich comforting flavor but with an interesting kick from the orange and spice in it.

Summary: Tastes just like the description when made in pourover methods (Chemex and Hario V60), and pulled as espresso.

From the roaster: Sumo oranges and gingerbread

Sterling Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Shilicho

Review conducted 3-7 days post-roast.

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