This coffee was a stunner right out of the gate. Sometimes coffees aren’t that way, even the great coffees aren't obviously high in quality when they're fresh. Ethiopian coffees can be exceptionally difficult to cup when their fresh, elegant and floral washed coffees can cup flat, grassy, and papery. This stunning lot from Birhanu Teklu was the antithesis of the norm, exuding delicate florals and extraordinary sweetness even while fresh. We immediately sought out the coffee, calling our friend at Cafe Hilm and inquiring about its availability.
Unavailable. This coffee was reserved for another roaster, but we earmarked a small amount for next year, hoping for a larger volume. Fast forward to another year of supply chain issues resulting in slow shipping times, this coffee's availability was suddenly open. We reserved the whole lot for us, and anxiously waited for it to arrive…
This lot comes to us from our good friend Michael Adinew. Michael has helped us in many ways over the years, like helping us get our importing program off the ground, connecting us with many industry folks, sourcing amazing coffees via Cafe Hilm, and not to mention the steadfast friendship via evening and early morning phone calls just to show that he cares. In order to expand offerings at Cafe Hilm, Michael has begun working with Birhanu Teklu, a producer and station manager at the Gango washing station in West Arsi. This village is producing some of the highest elevation coffees we’ve ever seen in Ethiopia. (coffee is grown up to 2300 MASL!) Birhanu himself is growing coffee on a traditional small holder farm, cultivating around 2.5 hectares of coffee trees, consisting of the generically named variety 74112. In addition to cultivating his own stellar coffees, Birahnu also manages the station that boasts nearly 650 delivering members, all of which live within the area surrounding the mill.
WASHED PROCESSED COFFEES
Processing in coffee refers to the conversion of the raw coffee cherry into green coffee, a finished product for roasters to manipulate. Washed coffee can also be known as “wet processed.” It refers to the removal of the fruit that covers the beans (seeds) before they are laid to dry. To do this coffee cherries are then squeezed through a screen called a pulper. The fruit/skin travels down one shoot, while the coffee beans go into a large tank. The seeds at this point still are covered in a sticky, mucilage-like substance, think the stringy fruit left on a peach pit.
From here the coffee goes through a 24-hour fermentation. This step is a delicate time in processing where bacteria is eating and converting the mucilage and changing the flavor of the coffee. If this fermentation happens for too long and the coffee becomes vinegary, too little and you end up drying coffee with mucilage semi-intact. The coffee is washed several times to remove any remaining mucilage that is left. Once free of the mucilage, the coffee is then transported to a drying area to begin its preparation for export.