36609 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Natural Gedeb GrainPro is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Kokanna coffee mill located in the Gedeb District, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia. The Kokanna mill is located in a beautiful valley in the town of Kakanna, approximately 60 kilometers from the town of Yirgacheffe.
Cherry dried coffee is common to see on the side of the road throughout much of Ethiopia. Farmers with small gardens will often dry the coffee on their doorstep and then roast and brew it at home or sell it to the local markets. Ethiopia is practically the only origin country where it is the norm for a farmer to know what his or her own coffee tastes like.
In the case of exportable coffees like 36609 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Natural Gedeb GrainPro, coffee farmers will deliver ripe cherries to the local private mill or cooperative. The Kokanna mill, and others like it, will ensure cleanliness and consistency by sorting and immediately drying on raised beds, another Ethiopian original. These raised drying beds help to ensure good air circulation and temperature control; while the coffee dries, the cherries are turned regularly on the beds to prevent uneven drying. The cherries are stored in a local warehouse and then transported to Addis Ababa where the coffee is milled and exported.
This is a very fragrant green coffee with a very small average screen size and medium density. As with most Ethiopian coffees, it’s dry with a low water activity.
Feeling somewhat confident with 36609 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Natural Gedeb GrainPro, I took two dramatically different approaches in the roaster. My first roast (PR-0264, gray below) used incremental increases throughout the roast and kept the coffee moving into first crack, which I noticed was very quiet. My first crack times below are approximate as a result… it was difficult to pinpoint exactly when the transition from Maillard to crack began. I dropped PR-0264 after around 2 minutes of post-crack development; the coffee cupped quite well – very clean with lots of bright fruitiness, no funk or booziness at all. I’m not always a huge fan of the cherry dried coffees, but this one really impressed me with its ability to showcase floral and clean Yirgacheffe character.
My second roast (PR-0265, red below) was intentionally developed much longer and a bit darker to try as espresso. It cupped (unsurprisingly) poorly by comparison to the quicker, lighter roast. However, as a single origin espresso the coffee showcased sweet, complex fruits with a velvety body. During both roasts I found a small boost to the heat during or after first crack helped to prevent baking.
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
I focused entirely on single origin espresso for this week’s Crown Analyses, since it is a topic of constant debate, and this debate tends to be a favorite pastime for current coffee culture.
36609 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Natural Gedeb GrainPro is not for the faint of heart, but is a pleasure to work with. While dialing this coffee in, I needed to use a relatively coarse grind in order to get appropriately timed shots. With very dense coffees like this and other Ethiopian selections, you can expect to move the grind collar a few notches at the very least.
I was rewarded with a bevy of different beverages throughout my dial in procedure. Natural coffees can be a little less consistent, but I was pleased with nearly every shot I tried. As you can see below, I started with a relatively dense shot, which was admittedly a bit salty. It had very curious ethereal notes of gentle lilac, tart hibiscus, and nuanced eucalyptus.
My next shot was a bit more dilute, and I encountered more straightforward sweetness in this shot. It wasn’t quite as interesting or challenging, but shots like this are more likely to be crowd-pleasers. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this shot, but it wasn’t my favorite.
The parameters I ended up going with were the last shot listed below. Plenty of tropical fruit still presented itself at this ratio, but without getting too salty. It turns out that this coffee enjoys longer extractions (time-wise), and just under a 1:2 ratio. To each their own!