Bedhatu Jibicho is a coffee farmer, and a native to the Worka region of Gedeb. At over 80 years old, she might be the most experienced farmer we work with, having co-managed (with her late husband) the 23-hectare plot of government-allotted farmland since the 1960s. Her family continues to work the farm, especially aided recently by her son Tesfaye Roba. They have plans to use the premiums for their harvest to expand the farm and startup an export business.
Originally part of the Worka cooperative, Mrs. Jibicho joined the Banko Gotiti cooperative when it opened in 2013. Though much smaller, Banko Gotiti was much closer to her farm. That same year, her farm was recognized as a community model, and she took specialty coffee preparation training which enabled her harvest to be separated and sold traceably through the YCFCU (the umbrella Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union covering coops in the Gedeo Zone). Royal is a loyal buyer of Mrs. Jibicho’s coffees, and we’re especially proud to bring this storied and spectacular coffee to the roasting market.
While not unheard of, it’s exceedingly uncommon to find a single-farmer lot from Ethiopia. It’s a remarkably unique opportunity to taste the very specific terroir of this farm, in this tiny border-region of Southern Ethiopia, the homeland of Arabica. Gedeb is a woreda (district / city) located close to the Yirgacheffe woreda; both are situated in the narrow band of the Gedeo Zone that is straddled by Sidama and Oromia. Coffees from Gedeb often exhibit a little more heft and bolder fruit flavors than the delicate, floral Yirgacheffe coffees. While Bedhatu Jibicho’s lot certainly displays plenty of fruity complexity and silky mouthfeel, it also manages to retain some of the more delicate rose and jasmine aromas in an impressive balancing act of flavor.
Arabica coffee is considered among the least genetically diverse crops on the planet. If there is one part of the globe that bucks this trend, it’s Ethiopia. Rather than one or two common cultivars, Ethiopia has hundreds of commercially grown indigenous varieties, and hundreds more planted as research by government and private research entities. The result is better disease resistance and an abundance of flavor. Bedhatu Jibicho’s coffee is quite typical for the Gedeb region; it’s dense and fairly dry with a small screen size and wide distribution.
My first roast (PR-0293, gray) used slow and steady increases in gas to achieve a balanced profile with minimal dips in rate of rise after first crack; the roast spent less than 90 seconds post-crack and dropped at a pretty light 56.57 ColorTrack. The roast was a crowd-pleaser on the cupping table, showcasing a lot of bright acids with abundant citrus notes and floral aromas.
The second roast (PR-0294, red) took a more aggressive approach prior to first crack, but I dipped the gas once first crack began. I brushed up against stalling out but recovered and stretched caramelization for almost two minutes, nearly a quarter of the total roast time. The flavors were more rounded, and I really enjoyed the way dense cocoa notes that accompanied more complex, albeit subtler, acidity. I noted some blackberry jam, red grape, and melon in addition to the floral and peach flavors observed by the panel.
I want to point out something else interesting here. PR-0294 landed a full 4 points darker on the ColorTrack scale, a significant margin. But… the weight lost during roasting was hardly different at all, despite common knowledge that would indicate darker roasts weigh much less. What’s actually happened here is that the shorter roast time has created a roast with a wider spread in color, and though it averaged darker it retained a different, more complete array of solubles creating an interesting and complex cup. Not necessarily better or worse, but more complex.
On flexible coffees like this one that taste great at a wide range of roast levels, it might be worth your time to try a faster or slower roast. The ability for a roaster to manipulate a flexible coffee like this one in the machine is remarkable, and worth exploring further.