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Ethiopian Harrar Royal Select Decaf

June 1, 2005
Bob Yellin

The water-processed decafs that Royal distributes, processed in a plant located in Mexico, I believe, are as good as decafs can be, in my view. I am always newly surprised at the quality of these coffees.

I roasted this one in an electronically controlled (PID'd), data-logged Sirocco "fluid bed" hot air roaster and it was cupped blind against a non-decaf Harrar and a control sample. It was roasted to City level and stopped at 425 deg F with first crack coming at exactly 400 deg F. The coffee is basically chaff-free and if it's roasted without instrumentation, color will not be a good indication of roast progress because the coffee is chocolate-dark before the roast. One must listen for the cracks and sense the aromas to judge the degree of roast. Amazingly, as the roast progresses and the beans expand, it ends up looking like a normal roasted coffee. For more information on my roaster and method, see our reference page.

Is this a decaf? Is this a Harrar? If I were handed a cup of this coffee and had not roasted it myself, I wouldn't have been sure of my answer to either of those questions. The flavors and aromas are reminiscent of a cross between a spicy PNG and a Yirgacheffe. Instead of blueberry, there are strong notes of coconut, apricot, orange peel, allspice and clove. Wow! A darker roast left much of the initial flavor intact and added chocolate and nuts to the profile. It is medium-bodied, and fairly bright with a clean finish.

To score this coffee fairly I would have to subtract a point or two for being an atypical Harrar but add the same amount for its unusal and distinctive personality, so no cupper's points either way for this one.

Dry Fragrance: 4.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 7.5
Acidity: 7.4
Body: 7.4
TOTAL (subtotal + 50) 89.3

  • Lighter Roasts: Spicy, bright distinctive.
  • Darker Roasts: Nutty, spicy with come chocolate notes.
  • As Espresso: Sweet but lacks the complexity it has as a brewed cup. Lots of crema that disappears almost immediately.


UPDATED: June 27, 2005