Ethiopia Mesfin Kitesa
SIDAMA ZONE by Emily McIntyre (Catalyst Coffee Consulting):
We've all heard the stories: Kaldi, a bored goat herder, in 850 AD, notices his goats have extra energy after eating the fruit of a nearby bush, tries some for himself, and thus the coffee revolution is born. Whether that's really how coffee was discovered or not, we do know the legend originates from Kaffa, and the very name of our beloved beverage derives from the region in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia.
Until it was annexed to Ethiopia in 1897, the Kingdom of Kaffa thrived on a rich trade in ivory, gold, and civet oil. Coffee has been grown in the region for time immemorial, clustering in the lush forests along with forest cardamom, long green peppers, and banana trees. Honey is a large part of Keffa's culture and export, with wooden honey hives called "gendo" hung in the trees and massive consumption of Ethiopian honey wine, "tej". Tea is another famous product, particularly near the lauded Wush Wush village.
The Ethiopian government is establishing a National Coffee Museum in the central Keffa city of Bonga, not far from Mesfin's farm, to celebrate the discovery of coffee in the area. Traditionally in Kaffa, coffee is both consumed in the buna ceremony and rolled with ghee, or clarified butter, for a high-energy snack.
Additionally (for the curious) the name Kaffa traditionally refers to the geographical area, while "Keffa" refers to the people group. As we tend to identify our coffees for their representation of the people rather than the area, we call this one "Keffa". Kaffa or Keffa, all this history combines to make this coffee lot an incredible historical experience.
NATURAL PROCESSED COFFEES:
In the case of natural processed coffee, the coffee cherries are brought in the mill and most often take to raised drying beds immediately. The cherries are allowed to absorb sunlight directly, to dry out the mucilage. During the process, underripe, overripe, and damaged cherries are removed by the mill workers.
The cherries are raked regularly to discourage fermentation and mold formation. Just like in washed coffees, the drying cherries are covered during rainfall and nighttime. The cherries are removed from the drying beds once the moisture content reaches 12% and then transferred to a hulling station to remove the dried mucilage.
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 - Hario V60
20g Coffee : 320g Water 205°F
~2:20 Drain Time
Start Timer: 50g Bloom, 30s
@30s 100g pour to 150g
@1:00 100g pour to 250g
@1:30 70g pour to 320g
~2:20 Drain Time
Pours should be heavy and quarter-sized in the middle of the V60.
Is there a better combination than strawberries and chocolate? This natural Ethiopia makes the case that NO, there isn’t! Somewhat subtle body for a natural process, but still packed with tasty fruit and floral qualities. Sweet strawberry jam and cocoa with sugary sweetness and florals. We enjoyed the high clarity of the V60 making that strawberry pop! There is a lot of extractable material in this coffee. It took a coarser grind than normal. If over-extracted expect muted fruit notes and drying cocoa. If under-extracted you’ll get a tart and boring cup.
ESPRESSO - Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars,
Pressure Profile: T0: 4s, T1: 4s, T2: 42s, T3-6: 0s
19g in : ~ 55g out @ ~24 seconds
A bright espresso that, just like its filter version, doesn’t present a heavy body associated with Naturals. Bright and clean with tart strawberry and floral qualities shine through this espresso. We pulled shots at 20g but found the concentration to be a little strong.
Ethiopia Mesfin Kitesa
This Relationship Coffee comes by way of our friends at Catalyst Coffee. They are an extremely talented small team of people that passionately source in areas of Ethiopia that we usually do not visit. We met with Emily, Michael, and their team this year in Addis for an impromptu cupping and the coffees were terrific. The coffees they helped source became some of our favorites of the year. We paid $4.10 per pound for the coffee, and we paid an additional 48¢ per pound to import it. We purchased fifteen 69-kilo bags that we cupped this at an 89.75. You should check out Catalyst's website, and we’d suggest digging in and learning a bit about what they do so well.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.12/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.