Cleveland Coffee Part 1: Rising Star Coffee Roasters in Hingetown

Roaster: Rising Star Coffee Roasters

Coffee: Marta Rubi

Origin: Tolima Colombia

Process: Anaerobic Natural

Flavor and Aroma Notes: Aromas of orange candy, Fruity pebbles, strawberry rhubarb. Flavor notes of peach tea, tropical fruit punch.

When I’m planning to travel I always seek out local coffee roasters and record stores. I keep a list on my phone so I’m not sitting on the side of the road pleading with Siri to direct me toward coffee only to have her suggest the nearest Starbucks. In Cleveland, Ohio there is no shortage of coffee spots, and many of them are highly acclaimed. It’s hard to make a choice based on Google reviews, so I reached out to the hive mind of my favorite coffee group on Facebook, a 2,100+ member Chemex-focused group whose members span the globe. Phoenix Coffee and Rising Star Coffee Roasters came up most frequently and received the most enthusiastic praise, so I set my course.

Rising Star Coffee Roasters in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighborhood is located in an old repurposed fire station. The fire pole coming through the ceiling above the baristas and the large glass window on the front of the cafe standing in the spot of the original garage door serve as visceral proof of the antique building’s authentic and rich history.

The shop offered two options for espresso; a South American blend called Illuminator, and Giakanja, from Nyeri, Kenya. I almost always choose African coffees when given the option because I prefer the brighter, acidic notes and the dark fruit and floral notes that many African coffees are known for. The same coffee was also available for pourover (Kalita 185 – -Yes!), and I thought it would be cool to try it both ways. Regrettably, I failed to ask whether the beans used for the espresso and the brew bar were the same roast batch; this would have been worth knowing, since the flavor notes were pretty much on-point with what was listed; Golden raisins, Creme brûlée, and rose water.

A stormy shot from Cleveland’s beautiful lakeside taken on our way home

I bought a bag of one of their limited offerings called Marta Rubi, a special coffee from Tolima, Colombia that is a natural anaerobic processed bean. This means the fruit pulp, or mucilage, is left on the coffee beans along with the naturally-occurring yeasts that live on the coffee cherries and then placed in a special tank that removes the oxygen while the beans ferment. As they ferment, the yeast eats the sugars and releases CO2, which eventually builds pressure in the tanks and forces the remaining juices back into the beans, resulting in crazy-juicy, fruity coffees that are often similar to wine or sour beer.

V60 brewing back at home

Back at home, I brewed this on the V60, the Chemex, French Press (James Hoffman Method), and it was perfection on every brewer, though Chemex was my favorite as it really highlights the acidity and brightness, which is where those big, juicy fruit notes live. This is a dense bean which means faster extraction and less absorption of water in the grounds, so I adjusted my grind two clicks finer on my Timemore Chestnut Slim to maintain a 4 minute drawdown in the Chemex and a 3 minute drawdown on the V60, and brewed at 207° F. I often like to save about 20 grams of beans from each bag to brew later so I can see how the flavors develop as it ages. After nearly three weeks I brewed a V60 and got massive aromas of strawberry, sage, peach, guava, hibiscus flower, and blackberry, notes that were all present in the cup as well. Typically these brighter flavors and aromas fade as the coffee age, so I was pretty stoked to find these still present all the way to the end of the bag. This beautiful coffee from Rising Star made me feel like I was in the tropics, even though the nearest body of water was Lake Eerie. It’s definitely a shop I’ll go out of my way to return to when I’m feeling nostalgic for a taste of the islands.

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