Introduction by Chris Kornman
As many as 900 individual smallholder farmers contribute their harvest to Sengage Agro Industry’s washing station in the Gersi neighborhood (kebele). The wet mill was built in 2009 and has been a regular provider for Royal Coffee (we actually analyzed an early arrival of one of their washed coffees back in May of this year) and we’re excited to feature this cleanly prepped natural coffee as a Crown Jewel.
Gersi is a neighborhood within the larger Yirgacheffe district (woreda), located within the Gedeo Zone. Gedeo is 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, and is surrounded on the East, South, and West by the Oromia Region, currently plunged into political turmoil.
Drying coffee in the cherry is the original tradition in Ethiopia. Coffee is not just a cash crop here; it’s a way of life. Ethiopian coffee culture runs deep even in the rural farmlands, and it’s entirely common to see a day’s harvest from a small private coffee garden drying in the cherry on a porch or patio. Ethiopia is among the only producing countries where coffee farmers roast and brew their own harvest. The large scale of Sengage’s washing station, and access to resources and land has enabled them to dry not just their washed coffees, but also their natural dry coffee cherries on raised beds, improving consistency and quality. Sengage, and its exporter group Testi Trading, PLC, provide loans to farmers during the off season and work to incentivise the highest quality.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
I always enjoy the detective work involved in deciphering Amharic to English translations. The predominant language in Ethiopia does not have a strict set of transliteration rules, so the same word may be spelled differently by any number of individuals. In this case, I was told that the varieties that comprised this particular lot were mostly “gurume” (I’ve also seen “Kurmie” and “Kudhme”) and “wellesho.”
Regardless of how they are spelled, these two varieties are the most common old growth cultivars found in Ethiopia. Kurume is recognized by its compact growth pattern and small leaf and berry size, while Wolisho is much larger both in leaf and berry.
The coffee is very dense and quite small (leading me to believe there is probably more Kurume than Wolisho in the lot) and typically dry for an Ethiopian coffee. It’s probably the densest natural process coffee we’ve analyzed, so keep an eye on Jen’s recommendations for roasting below.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
A very dense, small screened coffee that we decided to roast two ways. The first roast, PR-352 was a natural progression where we tried to interfere as little as possible. This coffee really wanted to bottom out quickly and at minute 3:17 we added enough heat to finish the roast. We noticed in PR-352 that this coffee needed a lot of energy and cracked very late, so we decided to speed things up a bit and add more heat and sooner in the roast. This steeper curve was preferred on the cupping table with its nice balance of floral and citric acidity with some nice sugar browning flavors by ending at a higher temperature. The combination tasted like a sophisticated lavender and sea salt caramel covered in a complex and fruity dark chocolate.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
This fruity, raised-bed natural coffee is really classic for a dry-processed southern Ethiopia. Lots of sun-ripened berry flavors dominate the cup, regardless of brew method or roast style. Its clean prep shows through in the cup, however, so there’s no real funkiness or booziness to the flavor profile, just clean tartaric fruits like grapes, blackberries, and even a hint of ripe banana. Richard, Evan, and I tasted a quick Chemex comparison between the two roasts, and had a slight preference for PR-0353. It showed a little more complex and fruit-candy-like character than its counterpart, which was full and sweet with tons of ripe fruits but maybe a little less complex. Both coffees showcased a high degree of density; the brew time was extended by a pool of water in the grounds that took longer than average to siphon. The coffee was moderately soluble at a relatively coarse grind.
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.