Southern Weather has a sibling. Do you know that person who shows up to family gatherings around the holidays wearing floral shirts buttoned only mid-way up their torso while sporting a deep-set sunglass tan? This blend is that person. Tropical Weather will transport you from a chilly Polar Vortex to a balmier destination for a lot less than that all-inclusive resort ticket you’ve been eying. A 50/50 blend of Ethiopian washed and natural processed micro-lots, this coffee bursts with notes of stone fruit, and finishes with a tropical fruit note so pleasant you can almost hear the ocean's waves.
Tropical Weather arose out of our love for coffees from Ethiopia. Each season, our partners at origin work tirelessly to process both washed and natural coffees that are exquisite in their own differing cup profiles. We found that by taking a delicately floral and juicy washed coffee and blending it with a pungent and intense natural, we could have a cup that was greater than the sum of its parts. Our approach to creating blends is a bit different at Onyx. For Tropical Weather, we select a few washed and natural Ethiopian coffees that we feel fit the profile of the blend. We then adjust the ratio of the two coffees in the roast in order to strike a balance between the pungent natural and the delicate washed component. Feel excited that the coffee you are tasting is always in season, and therefore, it is cupping and tasting to its full potential. We will never compromise our commitment to high-quality coffees and blends, whether it’s a single origin release or a blend component. You will not find Onyx buying “blender” coffees to save cost or prolong a good coffee. We also always keep blends to three coffees or less and maintain ratios in the build. This way, what you extract is the flavor profile we designed. Currently Tropical Weather is Ethiopia Worka Natural (we felt it cupped more akin to a washed coffee, therefore it’s being utilized as the washed component.) and Ethiopia Durato Bombe Natural.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly, but can be equally terrible when things go wrong. Natural processing, or dry processing, refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. Long before the age of portafilter tattoos and dual-boiler home espresso machines, coffee was picked and dried this way out of convenience. It is, to this day, still the most convenient and economically friendly way to process coffee cherries. (It’s estimated that dry-processing can use up to 90% less water than the washing process.) So why isn’t all coffee processed this way? Well, as coffee made its way across the world, it was commoditized and standardized, just like all other products spread by colonialism, but that’s a whole other story... Adding to the boom of washed processing, the natural process method can be tricky to get right, due to the delicate nature of fermentation and drying. What does all this have to do with the final cup? Well, when you leave the skin and fruit of the coffee cherry on the seed throughout fermentation and drying, that fruit begins to break down, imparting esters that lend delicate florals and big fruit notes into the seed that will survive the roasting process. If it’s rushed or handled incorrectly, this fruit rot can lend off-flavors to the coffee, making the final cup dirty or ‘fermenty.’ Basically, that single cherry begins to slowly decay, and controlling that delicate action through advanced technique and metrics allow us to drink wonderfully floral and fruity coffees. We have long promoted natural processed coffees, and this Tropical Weather is just one of the reasons we do.
WASHED PROCESSED COFFEES
The washed process begins with coffee cherries delivered to the washing station, both from the primary market or from farmers bringing their coffee directly to the mill. The cherries are inspected, and an initial quick round of hand-sorting separates the defective coffees before placing them into the hopper. They are then funneled to the depulper, which removes the fruit from the seeds. After that phase is done, the coffee is fermented underwater for approximately 24 hours. This phase of fermentation is crucial, as the yeast and microbes are breaking down the sticky mucilage layer found on the outside of the seed following depulp. Once the 24-hour fermentation is complete, the parchment is emptied into the washing channels, where it is agitated with rakes. During this step, the water is refreshed to ensure proper agitation and washing is taking place. Once the washing is complete, the coffee is taken to the raised drying tables for sun drying. Washed coffees are the base of most major blends and make up a significant portion of our single origin offerings here at Onyx. When done correctly, washed coffees can be a perfect harmony of sweetness and acidity, with cleanliness that leaves you wanting just one more sip.