Many great companies start in garages...
and Equator Coffee is one of those companies. Founded in Marin County in 1995 by Brooke MacDonnell and Helen Russell Equator started with a goal of building a coffee company focused on quality, sustainability, and social responsibility. As they've grown from a garage based roaster, to a company that touts 500 wholesale accounts and seven self operated cafes, they've not swayed from their original goals.
Equator's philosophy is pretty complex and goes from farm level all the way to protecting the environment. They call it the Chain of Well-being. They've even been the first coffee roaster in California to become a certified B Corporation. This means that they meet the most rigorous and verified standards of environmental, social performance, transparency, and accountability. They are seen as a community of companies and drive a worldwide movement using business as a force for positivity.
This is all great, but lets dive into the coffees. With this months subscription Equator has included their flagship espresso blend, Eye of the Tiger, and an Ethiopian Ardi from the current sweetheart of the coffee industry, Guji. Just from reading the description of these two coffees I was intrigued. Of course, if you've been following along with me for awhile you'll recall my love for all things Ethiopian. The espresso blend though was also an interesting mix of coffee origins not often seen together, but have all separately been mainstays in my coffee experiences.
Starting with the Eye of the Tiger blend. At first glance I knew it was a bit darker than I'd prefer, but I know that is a classic profile for espresso so I can't knock it too much. The espresso on its own was mild and chocolaty, for me it lacked the sharp acidity I look for in my espresso. As most darker roasts do it held up really well with milk, even in a standard latte size. It's an approachable, classic espresso profile, but in the end it lacks some of the unique flavors I'd love to see come out of its blend components.
The Ethiopian Ardi is more my speed. Opening the bag it wafts the fragrance of a fruity sweetness that I love. It's a natural processed coffee, so the fruity, winey, and sweet notes are there for the sipping. This is one of the few coffees where nearly all of the notes listed came through. Up front berry melange, sweet lemon, and vanilla really come through strong. To wrap it up there is a creamy dark chocolate bitterness. With milk the more delicate notes of lemon and vanilla fall off, but the berries and chocolate are there in full force.
In summary these espressos are vastly different, and give you a broad view of coffee from second to third wave coffee as it is today. The Ethiopian Ardi is by far my favorite of the two, but they are both worth a try in a practice of contrast. These espressos score a 'Buy It' on my rating scale.
Eye of the Tiger
Origins: Nicaragua, Malawi & Kenya
Brew Ratio: 1:1+
Grams In: 19 - 20
Grams Out: 20 - 25
Duration: 25 - 30 seconds
Origins: Guji, Borena Hagermariam District
Brew Ratio: 1:2+
Grams In: 18 - 19
Grams Out: 28 - 35
Duration: 25 - 28 seconds