Ethiopia Hambela Buku Natural
Seventy-five kilometers beyond Yirgacheffe lies the farm Hambela, a 200-hectare coffee farm that includes a wet mill, dry mill, drying beds, and parchment storage. It’s a fantastic operation that we have had the opportunity to visit multiple times. However, it's not the most pleasant trip. Thirty hours of air travel to get to Addis Adaba, Ethiopia from Arkansas and then add a 20-hour car ride through some of the worst “roads” you have ever experienced. That being said, the coffee is definitely worth it.
Hambela is owned by three brothers: Aman, Michael, and Tariku Adinew. The property belonged to their parents but had been abandoned for decades until they invested and reclaimed the old family tradition of coffee farming. The farm is certified organic, and the brothers have a tremendous heart for people and quality coffee. Within Hambela there are multiple coffee cherry drop spots. Buku is our favorite macro-lot from within this system.
NATURAL PROCESSED COFFEES:
Natural coffees are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly and are pretty much the worst thing ever when not. Natural processing or dry processing refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. After the coffee cherries are picked from the tree and placed on drying beds or the ground in some cases. They are dried in the sun until they have 12% moisture content or so and then hulled to remove the dry husk of the fruit. Naturally (get it?), they exhibit fruit forward characteristics and have a good chance of tasting “fermenty,” which is usually a taboo in Specialty Coffee. However, with an advanced technique in picking and drying, high-quality naturals are being produced, and the cup quality and taste profiles are astoundingly good. We have long promoted alternative processing methods, and naturals are at the top of that list. This Hambela coffee is one of those reasons we do. Fresh berries, vibrant lime, and a sweet, silky mouthfeel are just part of what makes this coffee so indulgent. Add jasmine tea, bergamot, and tropical overtones in both aromatics and flavor. This coffee will change the way you look at black coffee and may just convert those who don’t drink it currently. Clean, high-quality naturals can be a perspective changing cup.
This coffee can be tough to brew, but when it's right, it might be one of your new favorites. I love this coffee in a Chemex, Kalita Wave, and on espresso. No matter what brew method you use, this coffee requires a very coarse grind. This coffee wants to move slow, and the key is to let it set the pace! Don't force this coffee to move faster. You'll be at risk of over-extraction.
Keys to this coffee:
1. Coarser grind size! For reference, I go 1.5 numbers coarser on an EK-43, two macro-values coarser on a Baratza Encore, five values coarser on a Baratza Virtuoso, and one number value coarser on a Mahlkonig Guatemala.
2. Hotter water! I start with my water at 208 degrees in the kettle. Preheat your brew method, this will help hold temperature in the longer brew time, but because the grind is so coarse, it won't over-extract.
3. Don't rush it! On a brew method where you pour pulses of water, give this coffee an extended drain time between each pulse. If you try and rush it too much, you'll overfill your brew method, and actually cause the drain to slow down. Whenever you do pour, use agitation to move the grounds around, but then wait for the next pour. Bed depth is the priority here, not drain time!
In a Kalita, your final pour will happen at 2 minutes if you follow our recipe. It will take 2 minutes to drain, though. In a Chemex, expect your brew to be a minute longer drain than normal.
For espresso: 19.5 grams into the portafilter, 40 grams out, in 23 seconds.
Ethiopia Hambela Buku Natural
This is a Relationship Coffee from our friends at METAD in Ethiopia. We’ve been working with Aman and Michael Adinew (METAD) for four years now. METAD started with one farm in the Oromia zone, then added one in Gedeb. Now they are working on a project in Limu and Sidama. We buy both natural and washed coffees from the BUKU macro lot program. We paid $4.70/lb FOB for this coffee which we cupped as an 89. Royal brought our containers stateside for a fee, and we bought 120 69kg bags of green coffee.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.42/lb when we purchased these coffees.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum purchase price was $1.62/lb when we purchased these coffees.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided to only list what is shown 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 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.