Introduction by Chris Kornman
In a year full of incredible Ethiopian coffees, the good people at Hambela Estate continued to impress us again and again with spectacular coffees. This is our very last Ethiopian Crown Jewel for the 2015-2016 harvest cycle, and even as harvest has begun again in Ethiopia and we look forward to what the new crop might bring, there is ongoing uncertainty about the state of affairs in the homeland of Arabica.
Ethiopia’s political history is dense. It is the only African nation to weather the European invasion of the continent without being colonized. Its former Emperor, Haile Selassie, constructed the nation’s modern ethos with a soft voice and a strong arm for over 40 years into the 1970’s, leaving a country striving for progress while fighting poverty, famine, ethnic divides, and corruption. The ongoing struggles continue as protests turned violent in the beginning of October in Oromia, causing a crackdown that saw hundreds of protesters killed and thousands imprisoned or detained. Multiple coffee washing stations in the south of the country have been reported damaged or destroyed, and the coffee conscious world holds its breath for a slow trickle of better news from a country whose citizens’ media access and freedom of speech have been limited by the government’s declaration of a state of emergency.
So we raise a cup in solidarity, choosing a coffee grown on a large estate located in the midst of the embattled region. Hambela, owned and operated by METAD Agricultural Development PLC, was originally a gift from Emperor Selassie to Muluemebet Emiru, the first African female pilot. METAD is now managed by her grandson Aman Adinew, and its export partner Rift Valley Trading LLC is operated by his brother Michael Adinew. Among the many important pieces of work undertaken by METAD are their commitment to equal employment opportunities for women and education opportunities for the youth of the coffeelands, their early partnerships with Grounds for Health, and their development of Africa’s first SCAA certified lab.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Ending the 2015-2016 Ethiopian Crown Jewel releases on a classy note, this delight is typically dense with good looking moisture and water activity figures. The majority of the coffee falls between screens 14-16, making consistent, if a bit on the small side. The prep is nice; the lot was exported as a Grade 1.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
These small dense beans really stretched the roast out with my typical profile to a total time of 9:36 minutes. While that may seem like a short roast on a large commercial roaster, it is an eternity on the tiny 1kilo Probatino. Leaving the charge temperature the same I decided to add more heat much earlier on in my second roast, PR-418 and I achieved more of an arch in my roast curve compared to the straight line in PR-417. Both roasts had a considerable amount of pineapple and other tropical fruits, but I really enjoyed the vanilla and creamy mouthfeel in PR-418. I advise to use plenty of heat and if I were roasting this coffee again, I would start with a higher charge temp than the roasts below.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
I made a small change to our typical grind setting, going a little coarser than normal with the expectation that this Hambela, like many of our other Ethiopian Crown Jewels, would be relatively soluble and might benefit from the long contact time with large particles in a Chemex. The resulting brews were a little on the thin side, and while Jen’s first roast, PR-417 performed very well on the cupping table, it tasted a little bitter at 19% extraction. The shorter roast was thin, but pleasantly floral.
Feeling confident I could produce a better brew, I switched to Kalita and knocked out a second try of PR-418 that seemed to agree with everyone’s sensibilities a little more. If you can, keep an eye on your extraction percentage and brew ratio – this coffee, at least in our experience, benefited from a higher % extraction at a lower coffee-to-water ratio. Specs below:
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.