2020 has been a truly remarkable year for specialty coffee.
Even with all of the challenges that have come this past year, the specialty coffee community continued to embrace the unknown and band together to become even stronger than ever. I believe that there will be even greater things to come in 2021, and even greater coffee to discover and experience.
But like I have said each year when it comes to putting together this post, “every year there are a few coffee’s that standout from the crowd and remind me that no two bags of coffee are ever the same. It’s what I love about drinking coffee. And it’s why I love sharing with others about specialty coffee and why it’s so incredible.“
In as much as the coffee community continues to grow, I feel like the more it grows, the more it gets even smaller and better connected. This past year introduced me to a number of new coffee roasters, a number of new origins, and a number of new people that I now get to call friends. It continued to confirm how much I love specialty coffee and sharing that love with as many people as possible.
This year (much like last year), my top 3 coffee’s feature two Canadian roasters and one from the USA, with a little something extra at the end.
So as the year comes to a close here are the three coffee’s that I am proud to say are my top 3 of 2020 are:
This coffee from Hatch Specialty Coffee was an absolute stunner. Soured in partnership with Project Origin from Australia, this was one incredible example of why Carbonic Maceration coffees really became some of the most sought-after this year. Bursting with notes of tropical fruits like guava, peace, and strawberry this coffee was a pleasure to brew and the only downside was when it ran out.
I have always been impressed with the the great selection of rare and unique coffees that Hatch sources. This Heirloom varietal from the Mesina ZB Washing Station in Ethiopia is one of those coffees I will not soon forget. If you get your hands on some of it, I found it truly shined being brewed up in my V60-02. I went with smaller doses of 16g brews just to make it last as long as I could.
No question this coffee deserves top spot this past year. I can only hope to experience more coffees from Hatch & Project Origin next year.
If their gorgeous new branding wasn’t enough to get you excited (how amazing are those boxes though!) their coffee is equally as incredible. Onyx Coffee Lab was one of the roasters I was really hoping to get my hands on this year, and I was beyond thrilled when I was able to make things work to get my hands on some.
There was one coffee that I had my eyes on from the moment it was released–the Topical Weather. Onyx Coffee Lab describes it this way – Tropical Weather is your cup of sunshine. With a floral aroma, notes of mango and pineapple, along with peach sweet tea, you’ll be leaving the house wearing shorts all year long.
And it certainly lived up to the hype. I know I have a thing for Single Origin Ethiopian coffees (who doesn’t), but this coffee is a blend! And that’s another huge reason why it made this list. This coffee is a 50/50 blend of Ethiopia Bombe washed and natural processed micro-lots. Proof again that blending coffee is an art form. The team at Onyx absolutely nailed it with this one.
I loved this coffee so much I vacuum sealed and froze some 30g pouches to warm up and brighten up my day during the long, cold winter here in Calgary.
I had began hearing about Rum-Mandarin processing earlier in 2020 and had hoped to get my hands on some. It was a great surprise to find out that Rogue Wave Coffee had some on their site. Unfamiliar with this means of processing coffee?
Here’s how Rogue Wave describes it: “Ripe cherries undergo a 48 hour fermentation in an anaerobic environment using GrainPro, with dried mandarin oranges included. During the drying phase, the coffee is then dried for 15 days on raised beds, followed by 15 additional days in rum barrels with cherry and parchment removed.”
The moment I opened the bag I was blown away. It brought back memories of cognac-Christmas candies my Dad often had around the holidays (I snuck a few!). There was fragrant aromatics of orange-candy throughout as I brewed each cup. Honestly this was such a unique and special coffee. Unlike my previous two coffees this one is not an African coffee. This is a Tabi varietal from the Finca La Fortuna farm in the Tolima, Planadaa region of Colombia. It is definitely a fantastic showcase of the quality coffee coming from this region.
Ply and the team at Rogue Wave continue to amaze me with the fabulous coffees they are sourcing & roasting. If you haven’t heard much about them, check out the full write-up I did on them earlier this month: HERE.
I had picked my three top coffees for 2020 and then this coffee showed up on my doorstep. Up until this point I had yet to experience a coffee from Yemen and boy was I glad that this coffee fixed that.
What I loved about this coffee was that it was a new origin from a new roaster for me. This is one of the things that I love about specialty coffee. There is always something new to discover. This coffee is a Jadi varietal from the Haraaz region of Yemen.
Ethica describes their coffee this way: “To understand why these beans are so special one has to nerd out big time unfortunately. The combination of elevation, soil and climate adaptations (planted in terraces) set up this coffee to be juicier and fruitier than what you would regularly taste in a filter coffee.”
They absolutely nailed it on the description. It was one of the most aromatic, lively, and nearly effervescent coffees I had this year. Huge thanks to Kazkara our in Ontario for making it happen that I could get my hands on this.
So there you have it. Congrats to Hatch, Onyx, Rogue Wave and Ethica for making it onto my top 3 (well I guess top 4) coffee list for 2020. It is so hard to narrow it down like this, and there were SO MANY others who were so close.
2021 is just around the corner, and that means more amazing coffee to enjoy, and discover.
Here’s to a Caffeinated New Year!