The Worka Cooperative is a growing union of around 425 different farmers. It’s also part of a much larger Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union which currently holds 30 co-ops in Gedeo. Producers in Worka almost exclusively grow coffee although throughout a diverse amount of fruit trees are intercropped. This helps with shade for a long maturation time increasing the quality of the coffee and enriches the soil with nitrogen. Much of the fertilizer used by producers in the Cooperative is made by the producers themselves using fallen fruit and bacteria. There is an extensive push by the Co-op to farm organically and the producers that have joined the program receive financial incentives. Because of a long harvest schedule, fresh harvest coffees from Ethiopia typically don’t arrive in the USA until late May. This, however, is one of the few first harvest coffees that arrives early and consistently performs.
YIRGA CHEFFE & GEDEO:
Gedeo zone is located within the long-winded state named Southern Nations and Nationalities of the People’s Region. Coffee from Gedeo is labeled as Yirgacheffe, which in my opinion, definitely rolls off the tongue a little easier. Now Yirgacheffe has six different micro-regions called “woredas”. That means coffees from Wenago, Kochere, Yirgacheffe (double name), Gedeb, Bule, and Dilla Zuria are all considered Yirgacheffe coffee.
The coffees throughout the region are known for incredible stone fruit and citrus-forward acidity, delicate florals, and incredible sweetness. Both washed and naturally processed coffees come from the region, and you’ll see both throughout the year. Unlike in Central or South America, coffee cherries are not pulped on site at the farm but instead delivered to a communal washing station and purchased in raw cherry form by the kilo. Overall this is one of our favorites areas to visit, and you will see many different micro-lots and offers from the area all year long.
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 disc pulper, which removes the fruit from the seeds (beans). After that phase is done, the coffee is fermented under water for approximately 36 hours, with the water drained and refreshed once in that cycle. Then, the parchment is emptied into the washing channels, where it is agitated with rakes. During this step, the water is refreshed twice. Once the washing is complete, the coffee undergoes the traditional “double wash,” where it rests in the soaking tank for another 12 hours, before being taken to the raised drying tables for sun drying.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER - Clever Dripper
21g Coffee : 340g Water 205°F
~4:00 Drain Time
This Yirg doesn't quite taste like a traditional Ethiopian coffee. There are bright stone fruits and light florals — subtly sweet citrus, almost like tangerine, and a malted chocolate finish. We liked the Clever Dripper with this coffee, simply because it muted the brightness and made the coffee more approachable and sweet. This coffee will drain long in most brew methods, but don’t be scared of long drain times, taste and see! If it's under-extracted, you can expect tart and savory coffee. If it's over-extracted, you can expect overripe apricot and a long lasting bitter finish.
ESPRESSO - Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars
Pressure Profile: 0 sec to 4 sec - line pressure, from 4 sec till done - 9 bars
19g in : ~47g out @ ~26s
We enjoyed this coffee even more on espresso! Espresso brings out bright and sweet, floral apricot, almond, and sweet tea. Very sweet and balanced, we loved it black. Similar to filter, this coffee wants to drain long. We found that at this ratio, times under 26s were particularly under-extracted with a salty and tart flavor. Much longer times were even more unpleasant with a very bitter taste and overripe stonefruit. This coffee shines as a single origin espresso on its own more so than with milk. We found the flavor combinations with steamed milk of various sizes to not be as enjoyable as the espresso on its own.
This coffee came to us from a fellow roaster turned importer Eton, from Atlantic Specialty Coffee. We've known and respected Eton as the former roaster and green buyer from Temple Coffee for a long time. He's an incredibly genuine guy who's had a real talent for cupping and buying coffee for quite some time. We visited their lab in Oakland in the Winter and cupped this sample among fifty others and contracted it on the spot. We purchased one hundred 69-kilo bags at $3.78 per pound. We cupped this coffee as an 88 with plans to both release it and to use it as the main blender component in Geometry for a couple of months. We also added a 20¢ premium per pound to send to the cooperative based on how good this coffee cupped and the original sale price.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.03/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as the final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.