This double washed coffee from Zelelu Ararso is a really fun coffee for lots of reasons. It’s another great example of one of our exclusive single-farmer lots picked up through the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union. Zelelu Ararso is growing coffee in the Wenago woreda just north of Yirgacheffe town in Gedeo, very near the border of both Sidama and the Oromia Region. The cooperative, Addis Katema, has nearly 900 members, but they’ve kept Zelelu’s coffee separate for us.

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.
Zelelu’s coffee is a bit of a chameleon, but that’s not to say it isn’t thoroughly enjoyable. On the cupping table, big savory fruits and spices prevailed in the cup, while a Bonavita brew produced distinct floral and stone fruit flavors. It’s a great coffee that could be easily molded by an attentive roaster to fit a number of different purposes and flavor profiles, depending on style and preference.


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.

Zelelu’s coffee is very dense, even compared to the high expectations of many washed Ethiopian coffees. It has been cleanly prepped to Grade 1 standards and looks nicely polished and smells fresh. While small, the screen size of the lot is quite tightly distributed which should help mitigate inconsistencies while roasting. The coffee is of average moisture content with a slightly higher than average water activity. The push and pull of high density and high water activity might actually make this coffee a little easier to manage as it approaches first crack.


The first roast of this coffee highlighted all of the beautiful florals and dynamic acidity that this coffee has to offer: jasmine, oolong tea, orange marmalade and lemon cream. The fast and high heat approach of PR-376 really pushed the acidity to the forefront and was critical in opening up this dense coffee. The more gentle profile of PR-377 was also very successful with more sugar browning notes of vanilla and dark chocolate and plum preserves.



This coffee performed astoundingly well in the Bonavita automatic drip machine. Herbal notes, as well as tropical fruit sweetness came through very clearly. Lush lemon dominated, but as you can see below we enjoyed the interesting herbal dimension to this coffee just as much as the expected bright citrus. Lavender, coriander, juniper, and jasmine all made cameos in our notes.

Origin Information

Zelelu Ararso
Fermented underwater for 12-24 hours, washed with clean spring water, soaked for another 12-24 hours, and dried on raised beds
Wenago District, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
October - December
1,700 – 2,000 meters
Indigenous heirloom cultivars

Background Details

This coffee is produced by Zelelu Ararso and processed as a separate lot at the Addis Katema Cooperative where Zelelu Ararso is a member. The Addis Katema Cooperative is located in the district of Wenago in the Gedeo Zone within the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia. Zelelu Ararso is part of the single producer project developed jointly between the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) and Royal Coffee. The project was initiated in 2012 with a handful of ‘Model’ producers from cooperatives organized under the YCFCU umbrella who have been willing to work with a rigorous set of processing standards, regular farm visits from the Royal team, and higher cup qualifications. In exchange, producers earn higher quality premiums based on the sale of their individual lots. The popularity of the single producer project has led to increased participation and an opportunity to showcase more coffee from the growing numbers of small and talented producers who continue to work in the cooperative system.