Review: Novo Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Guji (Denver, Colorado)

I spent a lovely 24 hours in Denver recently, and picking up some coffee was high on my priority list. I’ve tried coffee from a number of Denver-based roasters before (Huckleberry, Corvus, Commonwealth, Boxcar), so I was excited to see what I could get my hands on in person. As fate would have it though, I arrived in town on a Sunday afternoon and by the time I was able to hunt for some coffee shops, many of them were closing for the day. My first stop was to Huckleberry, but the location I visited was closed early that day for a staff-only event. 🙁 I next visited a different coffee shop (don’t remember the name), but I left because they didn’t put roast dates on the bags. Third time ended up being the charm though, because I was able to find a Novo Coffee location that was open.

Upon arriving, I was immediately greeted by the staff and a friendly barista named Josh offered to chat if I had any questions about the beans I was looking at. Well, that was probably a mistake on his part because we ended up talking non-stop for the next 20 minutes at least about coffee, music, perfect pitch, more coffee… Sorry for talking your ear off, dude. I do love how excited baristas get talking about their house roaster, though! It’s a good sign that the beans are crafted with pride. My original plan was to buy one bag of coffee at Novo and perhaps one other bag at a different shop, but Josh talked me into buying three bags. Novo, you might want to look into giving this man a raise!

All three of the bags I bought were roasted around the same time, but I opted to start with this Ethiopia Guji because Josh seemed particularly excited about it. I just had a Guji/Sidama from Chromatic Coffee recently, so I was curious about if this would taste markedly different.

Spoiler alert: Yep, it sure does!

Whole bean: The beans smelled a lot like strawberry jam, and once I ground them up, milk chocolate aromas emerged.

V60: On my first try making this, I ended up with a 2:45 extraction time, and it was not nearly enough time. The resulting brew had a smooth aroma but tasted watered down. I was so disappointed!! However, once I tightened up the grind to result in a 3:45 extraction (which is on the long side for me with the V60), the coffee tasted a lot more flavorful, with a nice sweet milk chocolate flavor and a bit of Strawberry Quik character. It really wasn’t what I would call fruity, though.

AeroPress: Fruity/berry + chocolate flavor. It was a bit acidic on the finish with a bright lemony taste. I didn’t add any water to this concentrate, though, because I enjoyed the little bit of zing that came with the acidity.

Chemex: This brew smelled GREAT but tasted like disappointment. Bland. It brewed for 4:05 but based on my experience with the V60, maybe you’d need to brew it longer to get any flavor out?

French press: This method seemed to result in the best flavor of the four methods; the brew was a little thick with a chocolaty flavor. I wished for more fruit flavor though, as I like there to be a bit more dimension in my coffee vs. just chocolate notes.

Summary: I was expecting this to be a pretty bright, lively cup based on my recent Guji experience, but I actually found it to be rather bland when brewed with my standard parameters. Perhaps it had something to do with the change in altitude? I didn’t have any coffee at the shop so I can’t say if it tasted any different there, but if you do buy this, I would recommend using a french press and perhaps try brewing it for longer than 4 minutes if that is your standard (as it is mine). It seemed to be more successful in my opinion in the immersion methods vs. the pourover ones.

From the roaster: Pineapple, milk chocolate, strawberry, cream

This coffee is not currently available online.

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