Filter Face-off 1: Five Elephant & Coffee Circle

Five Elephant vs. Coffee Circles, 

Welcome to the first installment of filter face-off, which I will try to update every Friday. The goal is simple, take two coffees from two roasters, both coffees should be from a similar origin or country, and if possible, a similar process method, such as washed or natural. To be fair, the coffees should be brewed the same way, such as a v60 or an Aeropress, and see what happens. There are no winners or losers, just good coffee. 

This week is a battle of two of Berlin's giants, Five Elephant and Coffee Circle. Both coffees are washed Ethiopians from a similar region and processing method, but the roasting styles are totally different, so it should be interesting to any coffee fan to see the subtle differences from both roasteries in how they treat their golden brown. 

Before I introduce the coffees, perhaps I should outline the brew method that I used for this weeks coffees, which is actually my preferred way to make a v60 coffee. 

v60 Receipe:

Dose: 15 grams, Water: 250 grams, Brew Time: 2 min 20-30 seconds.

Water used: Vittel



Bloom quickly fill with 35 grams of water and follow immediately with 5 steady stirs (left to right, right to left, up and down). After 30 seconds, start a stead circular pour to ensure all the grounds are wet and then bring the spout into the center and begin a slow pour, with no circular movement. This is to reduce agitation and maintain the temperature. The pour should be slow and about 1 minute 15 you should be hitting the 230 gram mark. Here you can finish with a spin, washing the coffee down into the slurry of water ensuring all the grounds are wet. With hope, the coffee should stop flowing at about 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I grind my coffee quite fine for this method, and I find it quite easy to replicate.

Now lets introduce those two coffees. 

Five Elephant

Biftu Gudina.

  Cute little sample pack picked up at the Berlin Coffee Festival

Cute little sample pack picked up at the Berlin Coffee Festival

Produced in the Agaro region of Kaffa, Ethiopia, Biftu Gudina is a washed Ethiopia, produced by small hold farmers and is grown at an altitude of 1800-2000 meters. The coffee is of mixed heirloom, picked by the farmers and is fermented for 36 hours before being washed and dried in the warm Ethiopian sun.


Coffee Circle:


Michiti is also located in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, from a cooperative of 240 farmers, and is also a heirloom varital, grown above 1885 meters. It is picked by hand and fermented in closed tanks and then washed and dried in the sun. 

But how did they taste: 

These two coffees couldn't be more different and it was interesting the difference in style and approach.  

The first big barrel of flavour came when the Biftu Gudina was ground, giving a blast of flower notes, jasmin and magnolia and a hint of cinnamon. The Michiti also had a flowery note with a hint of chocolate. 

When brewed the Biftu Gudina has a light body but a smooth and sweet mouthfeel. It has a bright acidity, of bergamot and a little jasmine tea.

The Michiti was a little bit sweeter, with more body and a lingering mouth feel which is quite different to the light and pleasant finish of the Biftu Gudina. With Coffee Circle's coffee you have an elegant mouthfeel with flavour notes of grapefruit in the acidity and dark fruits, apricot and a hint of chocolate but the coffee had a little less clarity than the Biftu Gudina. When it cools you get a stronger note of dark honey and stone fruits, a classic profile that tastes really amazing.  

When the Biftu Gudina cools down you get a little more sweetness and also a more tea like structure, but it retains that elegance and clarity in the acidity, in that way both coffees sort of compliment each other really well.  

So how do we conclude this first installment of friendly filter faceoffs? 

Both coffees were really great examples of the quality coming from the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, both have elegant qualities, with a sweet juicy texture. It would be hard to pick a favourite of the two but I really loved the sweetness of the Michiti and would happily serve this honey apricot bomb to any of my friends. If I want a relaxed elegant cup of coffee, the Biftu would be my pleasure, also quite sweet but with a touch more brightness in the acidity. I would say on the brews the Michiti tasted a little bit more balanced but the Biftu had brighter and clearer tasting notes. A win win overall for both, two fantastic coffees from Berlin.  



 The view of Berlin beneath a heavy down pour, bright blue sky waiting beneath. Great day for coffee. 

Niall Curran