This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.
The Biloya mill is right down the road (east) from the Ecafe-winning, Hama Cooperative in Yirgacheffe and this Biloya coffee has gotten some notice of late. It earned the highest price at the Ethiopia 2007 Limited Coffee Auction, but more importantly, Paradise's submission of their roasted version won an unprecedented 97 by Ken Davids (Coffee Review). This "natural" or dry-processed coffee (beans dried before removing the fruity outer layer) follows a continuing trend among some specialty roasters and importers to find specially selected "micro-lots" of very high quality coffees for their customers. Paradise Roasters is a pioneer in this movement.
I knew this coffee had received a 97 from Ken Davids before I roasted and cupped it so I was really anxious to see what all the excitement was about. To make a long story short, I roasted this coffee many times until my samples ran out, cupped it over and over again (blind, triangle, etc.), but couldn't score it higher than a 91+. Miguel Meza (Paradise) then sent me samples of his green and roasted coffee, but still no 97, or even close: just 91+. However, make no mistake, I don't score coffees over 90 unless I really like them and for me, this coffee deserves it.
Generally, I found it to be a distinct, rich, intense, rather low-toned coffee embellished with some spice and bright fruit notes (pineapple and apricot), some more subdued fruit (raisins, perhaps) and lots of semi-sweet chocolate.
Two points worth considering:
- I found that to get the optimum fruity flavors, the roast must not go beyond the end of first crack. Stop the roast as early as you dare.
- Many of this coffee’s best qualities developed after about 4-to-5 days rest. Ordinarily, I've found that these Ethiopian naturals should be enjoyed soon after they’ve been roasted, but with this coffee, it took a few days for the best of the fruit to appear. I coined a new expression for this coffee: "a solid rest, brings out the best"!!
The Biloya is a fairly powerful coffee, with the apricot, honey, flowers and cinnamon notes one expects in good natural Sidamos. There is also a rustic hint of wood and leather that shifts in and out of the taste as the cup cools. The effect is that the cup never tastes quite the same twice in a row. The coffee will roast well to medium-dark roasts, and makes a very good, superbly balanced SO espresso.
Dry Fragrance: 4.7
Wet Aroma: 4.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 91.4
Dry fragrance: 4.0
Wet Aroma: 4.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.0