Introduction by Chris Kornman
Last year we released a number of single-farmer microlots from Ethiopian cooperatives, made available to us by special agreement with the YCFCU (Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union). One such lot was from Daniel Miju. New crop from Daniel’s farm just landed, and holy cow did it stick the landing. We couldn’t wait to get this coffee analyzed and pushed it straight to the front of the queue. Dazzling red fruits, sugary sweetness, it’s a coffee so markedly different from just about anything we’ve tasted… and just unbelievably clean.
Daniel Miju is a septuagenarian coffee farmer and native of the Worka kebele of southern Ethiopia’s Gedeb district. Miju’s experience farming precedes his involvement as a founding member of the Worka cooperative in 2006 by nearly three decades, having inherited his 15 hectare farm in 1978 (the same year Royal was founded). He has surrounded himself with a large and supportive family, many of whom still live locally and assist with the annual harvest. His farm has intercropped mango, avocado, false banana, and other shade trees to improve biodiversity.
His farm was selected as a model example in 2014 for the cooperative, and although his coffee is sold through the centralized ECX auction system, this lot is fully traceable through the partnership Royal has established with the YCFCU (the umbrella Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union covering coops in the Gedeo Zone) to highlight single farmer lots. While not unheard of, it’s exceedingly uncommon to find a single-farmer lot from Ethiopia, so Miju’s coffee presents a unique opportunity to taste a very specific regional terroir.
The Worka cooperative is located in the district of Gedeb, which lies to the south of Yirgacheffe town, each of which fall under the umbrella of the Gedeo zone, one of 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.
Drying coffee in the cherry, as Daniel Miju has done, is the original tradition in Ethiopia.Natural or dry-process, fruit-dried or cherry-dried – however you prefer to talk about this style of ‘zero-process’ coffee post-harvest production, it all comes back to Ethiopia. While farmers across the globe still practice this method of letting the coffee fruit dry like raisins around the seed, it all started in here. It’s still common to see smallholder farmers drying their daily harvest on their porches or lawns across the country. Unlike much of the rest of the world, many of these farmers will then roast and grind their own harvest – Ethiopia is the world’s only coffee producing country whose volume of consumption equals its export.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
For a coffee as dry and dense as this natural from Daniel Miju, I was a little surprised to find the water activity reading above 0.55 (usually associated with a moisture content of at least 10%), so I took a second reading to confirm – both are listed below. I’ve noticed recently that the storage environment can have a rapid and dramatic impact on green coffee’s water activity level. With summertime nearing its apex, hot and/or humid conditions can compound storage issues and cause physical changes to coffees we might not expect. Fortunately for Daniel’s coffee, the numbers are well below any kind of danger zone for either sensory quality or safety concerns. Even in adverse storage conditions, this single-farmer lot should be well equipped for longevity.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
A very sweet coffee with a lot of fruit acids and a syrupy texture. I was able to pull two different and distinct profiles by extending different parts of the roast. In roast one, the drying stage and the Maillard stage where equal in duration. The green coffee is dense and has a low moisture content despite an above normal water activity. After first crack, the coffee gained momentum and reached a higher than normal end temperature with one minute of post crack development time.
In roast two, I wanted to slow down the process and increase my overall drying time. I decided to lengthen the drying stage by applying less heat and using a lower charge temperature. I also lowered the heat just after first crack to extend the time and finish the roast with a lower end temperature than roast one. The results in the cup were very different. Roast one was very sweet and jammy, while roast two was more citric in profile with a crisp tart quality.
Roast one: Black cherry, dried strawberry, dark chocolate, red apple
Roast two: Pomegranate, floral, grilled peach, blood orange
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Daniel Miju’s coffee is fantastic in any setting. In the Behmor, this coffee performed very predictably (for a natural process coffee), and I was able to ramp down the heat immediately after first crack in order to develop this coffee in an easy-going, relaxed fashion. 12% roast loss was the result, and for my last roast of the day, this one allowed me to put away the Behmor feeling those positive roasting vibrations.
As Jen noted above, there is a lot of nuance to be had with this coffee. My roast of this coffee was more analogous to Jen’s second roast above (lower charge temperature, lowering heat after first crack). We found that this roast highlighted some of the lighter fruit notes, while sacrificing a little jamminess. However, I hope you like jamming, because this coffee is sweet and delicious regardless. My preferred note for this coffee was huckleberry (as you’ll see below).
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
Beyond getting all the notes, this coffee brewed with ridiculous consistency across roasts. Even the TDS readings were identical. It’s like you can’t mess this coffee up, even if you try (disclaimer: I wasn’t trying for that).
Roast 1 exploded with cranberry juiciness and complex fresh green herbal notes. Sparkling melon acidity with a rose floral finish. Pear cider and freshly picked raspberry. This was a coffee that screamed of late summer garden harvests.
Despite having the exact same stats, Roast 2 tasted remarkably different. I recently returned from a trip to Missoula, Montana, and on my trip I had the good fortune to come across a hillside covered with huckleberries. This brew had all the bright pop of a freshly picked huckleberry. Jammy grape soda, strawberry candy, night flowers, and a super sugary milk chocolate finish.
I want to write about this coffee forever, but I’m sure you’d get bored. Just try the coffee, it’s amazing.
This coffee may be available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.