Misty Valley Ethiopia: First Micro-lot of the Year

Make no mistake, Cups is indeed “An Espresso Cafe.” For many customers and baristas alike, there’s never a bad time for a cortado, and the legendary Blondie latte makes our world go ‘round. But if you’re like me, espresso is something of a treat, while drip coffee is life.

The newest micro-lot coffee in the Cups arsenal is Misty Valley Ethiopia, which you can find in stores starting the month of January. And I’ll admit, I’m a little biased, but I happen to think it’s one of the best roasts we’ve trotted out since I started slinging Cups coffee about a year and a half ago.

Do a little research, and you’ll discover that Ethiopian coffee is sort of like the Grandfather Of All Coffees. The Coffea Arabica shrub — the plant from which Cups gets all its drip coffee varietals — originated in Ethiopia and was originally cultivated in East Africa almost ten centuries ago.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is our normal, everyday Ethiopian offering, and has come to be one of my everyday go-to coffees due to its pleasant brightness and acidity. It’s a great coffee for drinking without the aid of cream or sugar (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) due to its light body and tea-like properties. Misty Valley, however, retains all my favorite things about Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and leaves a couple of my nitpicks behind.

If you had the chance to familiarize yourself with our last micro-lot, Yemen Matari, you’ll find it is quite similar to Misty Valley. And it makes sense; Ethiopia and Yemen are just miles apart, separated by the Red Sea, and boast similar environments conducive to coffee cultivation.

As with the Yemen Matari, the telltale light body and playful zest are present in Misty Valley, but unlike our everyday Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, the acidic punch is replaced with a smooth and subtle finish. It’s fruity at first (as fruity as black coffee can be, that is), but there’s a hint of dark chocolate on the back end, to my taste. It’s got complexity, but without the astringency and harshness sometimes present in high-acid African coffees. I liken the flavor to a mix of cranberries (tartness), chocolate (tannins), and walnut (earth), though many find prominent citrus or pineapple flavors as well.

What makes Misty Valley different is the natural drying and milling process. It’s an antique method, but it’s tried and true: the cherries (which are basically the coffee beans, plus the surrounding pulp and fruit) are laid out to dry and rotated constantly for 48 hours. This attention to detail helps ensure that every cup is consistent, balanced and complex, and it really lets the coffee’s natural flavor shine.

And you know what? Maybe you won’t pick up on all that. And that’s fine! First thing in the morning, I’m not really too concerned with tasting notes, either. I’m more concerned with a really good cup of coffee, expertly processed and brewed with care. Misty Valley won’t let you down, even if you do mix it into a Blondie au lait. But if you were ever curious about learning more about single-origin coffees, or perhaps even getting into the pourover game, this happens to be an excellent month to start.

Written by Alex Thiel