Introduction by Chris Kornman
Fresh crop Ethiopian arrivals have a way of bringing smiles to the faces of our cupping team. There’s so much to enjoy about these pristine, elegant coffees from the original homeland of Arabica. Characteristic floral aromas and a complexity of fruit flavors unparalleled in the rest of the coffee growing world make the coffees grown in Yirgacheffe among the most coveted on the planet. We’re genuinely thrilled to offer 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro as a stunning and delightful early arrival.
The relatively small Yirgacheffe is a district (woreda) located within the Gedeo Zone, among the smaller administrative divisions in the vast Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Ethnic Region of Ethiopia. Gedeo receives its name from the ethnic majority in the region, and shares a border to the north with the much larger Sidama zone. A kebele could be translated to mean “neighborhood,” so geographically, 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro is from the Gersi neighborhood of the town of Yirgacheffe in the zone of Gedeo within the bounds of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Ethnic Region. It’s especially interesting to note that Yirgacheffe has it’s own cooperative union, a distinction typically reserved for much larger geographical areas – a testament to the importance of the micro-region to Ethiopia’s coffee production.
Why Yirgacheffe, translated loosely to mean ‘water village,’ has been able to carve out one of the most recognized names in the coffee trade has a lot to do with the naturally exceptional conditions under which coffee is grown and handled. Unlike most of the rest of the coffee-growing world, where coffee shrubs must be tended to with the utmost care, Southern Ethiopia’s high elevation and climate are ideal for the plant, which can be found growing wild throughout the region. The unrivaled genetic diversity of local Arabica varieties contributes to both flavor complexity and the species’ survival. Especially notable is that the town of Yirgacheffe was an early adopter of the fully washed method of processing coffee, where the coffee seed is mechanically depulped and then dried on raised beds.
35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro comes to us from among the 900 or so small family farms that have been organized around the Sengage Agro Industry PLC’s coffee washing station, where they deliver their ripened coffee cherries for processing. It boasts an exuberance of tropical, stone, and citrus fruit flavors, a vanilla-like sweetness, and the characteristic jasmine floral fragrance we’ve come to associate with the best coffees from Yirgacheffe.
35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro is likely the densest coffee we’ve offered as a Crown Analysis. The coffee is immaculate, in accordance with the high standards for washed Grade 1 Ethiopias. Grade 1 is the cleanest available Ethiopian grade, with a visible defect count of less than three; in the Yirgacheffe region, Grade 1 also designates that it is a washed coffee. Other observable traits include highly stable water activity and moisture content numbers, which should indicate a healthy shelf life for this coffee under good storage conditions. The screen size, while somewhat typical for Ethiopia, is somewhat smaller than many other countries offer.
ROAST ANALYSIS BY JEN APODACA
The 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro is a durable coffee that has plenty of sweetness and dynamic flavor compounds to handle a roast several degrees darker than the two below. I would just advise that you slow down the roast slightly and taste all that this stellar coffee has to offer.
Most Ethiopian coffees have a smaller screen size and high density, which requires a large amount of heat at the forefront of the roast and then having the experience to know when to start backing off the heat so the coffee does not develop too quickly and race through first crack. Our 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro clearly demonstrates this in PR-0168 in red, where too much initial energy was applied and the coffee did indeed race through first crack.
The preference on the cupping table leaned heavily towards our other roast, PR-0167 with its moderate heat application and extended roast time, compared to PR-0168. In the cup from start to finish was a steady bouquet of jasmine and lemon curd, a stunning example of a washed coffee from Yirgacheffe. While PR-0168 in red was still a stand out coffee with dried peaches and black tea, it suffered slightly from a bitter and savory aftertaste.
BREW ANALYSIS BY EVAN GILMAN
For the baristas out there, Ethiopian coffees are the ones we look forward to dialing in. Finding the sweet spot with one of these high grown and finely sorted coffees is a relatively easy task, but still should not be taken lightly. That being said, with incredibly soluble coffees like the 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro, we may do well to dose lighter than we normally would.
The gentle nuances in a Yirgacheffe will be more apparent when allowing the coffee to ‘open up’ a bit. This can be done in a number of different ways, but perhaps the first is to let the coffee rest a few days after roasting. Dense coffees like this one will take more time to offgas, and allowing CO2 to dissipate before brewing is liable to give you a more consistent extraction. Another way to get more out of this coffee is to brew with less coffee (sounds odd, doesn’t it?). With a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water, it was very easy for us to get extractions above 20%.
Using this coffee in an espresso machine may be a tall order, but not entirely inadvisable. If you are of the camp that enjoys very bright and very floral shots of espresso, this may be your jam. If you’re looking for a rich shot with lots of body, you’re not going to have the best of luck with 35989 – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Idido Gersi Kebele GrainPro. Shoot for a 1:2.5 extraction, and slightly shorter extraction times (up to 25 seconds) for best results.