This coffee’s journey began in an unlikely place, Minnesota. Negusse Debela visited a specialty coffee cafe and had a revelation over how diverse and sweet a cup of coffee can be. From this moment, Negusse began to explore coffee back home in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. He experienced the tradition of growing and processing coffee, and understood how to improve and move coffee forward in his home. From this journey, SNAP specialty coffee was established in 2008, aiming to supply high-end specialty coffee, facilitating a similar experience that Neguesse had in Minnesota years ago.
From its wetmill in Gedeb, SNAP works with 486 smallholder producers to produce complex and floral coffees that are outstanding examples of what Yirgacheffe coffees can be. SNAP operates in Gedeb with their vertically integrated Veer Trading Company. The work that is put into processing these coffees is upheld by their dry mill in Addis Ababa. After each harvest these coffees are sorted by screen size, as well as density. This focus on processing and milling produces extremely stable and delicious coffee each season.
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 underwater 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 – Hario V60
14.5g Coffee : 250g Water 210°F
Drain by 2:45s
Worka has become a staple offering, for good reason. It represents flavors that have been drawing people to Ethiopian coffee for years. Look for black tea and bergamot notes, lemon, and classic blueberry like a great Yirgacheffe. We decided to lean into the delicate and fruity nature of this coffee by using the V60. This brewing method brings out the bergamot and blueberry notes and makes for a sweet and delicate cup. If this coffee drains too quickly, under-extracts, it tastes like lemongrass and watered-down soy sauce. If this coffee drains too slowly, over-extracts, it tastes like dried berries, pithy citrus, and the black tea note becomes too overpowering and drying.
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 : ~45g out @ ~26s
As an espresso, Worka tastes like sweet citrus, earl grey tea, and blueberry. Classic Yirgacheffe flavors taste great in milk. Oat milk, especially, adds a sweet granola note for an excellent small or large beverage. If this coffee pulls too quickly, under-extracts, it tastes tart and a little salty. If this coffee pulls too long, over-extracts, it has an unpleasant cocoa bitterness and medicinal aftertaste, though it is still quite bright.
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. Last year we visited their lab in Oakland and cupped this sample among fifty others and contracted it on the spot. After a stellar year of Worka in 2019, we asked Eton for samples and the beginning of harvest. We purchased two hundred and fifty 60-kilo bags at $3.54 per pound per the PSS sample. We cupped this coffee as an 88 with plans to both release it and to use it as the main component in Geometry for a couple of months.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.16/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.