overview

Overview 

This is a decaffeinated natural coffee from Oromia, Ethiopia, produced by members of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. It is certified Organic and Fair Trade and decaffeinated by the chemical-free Swiss Water Process method. 

The flavor profile is complex and effortlessly delicious with notes of cherry pie, strawberry ice cream, marzipan, and lemongrass. 

Our roasters found the coffee tasted great at a range of different profiles. It is difficult to see color change and has a soft first crack. With enough momentum, the coffee basically coasts through late-roast development. 

When brewed our baristas enjoyed the coffee as a high-ratio pour-over and found it well-suited and easy to dial as an espresso, noting that it tasted great in milk drinks as well as on its own. 

taste

Taste Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow 

This coffee is so complex and yet effortlessly delicious that it inspired dozens of taste descriptors from our team, many of which were complex but delightfully comforting themselves: cherry pie, strawberry ice cream, and marzipan are some great examples. No matter how it’s brewed it tastes exceptional, and in most cases the only indicator that it’s been decaffeinated is its fluffy, marshmallow-like mouthfeel (and the distinct absence of jitters I experienced after being unable to resist quaffing it down). This Decaf Ethiopia Natural is elegance incarnate, provoking flavors of lemongrass, watermelon, Asian pear, and dragon fruit balanced carefully by sweet comforting sugars in the vein of maple syrup, caramelized banana, and the Ethiopian hallmark of a black tea finish. Drink it as espresso, as cold brew, as pour over – it doesn’t matter, it will taste delicious. 

source

Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger & Chris Kornman 

It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since the last time we released a decaffeinated Ethiopian offering. One of the first we carried was present on the bar when we opened the doors of The Crown for the first time in 2019, and those who remember it have a special memory for its elegance and grace as an espresso. We loved it so much we featured it in an early signature drink as a riff on the classic Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail.  

This new Ethiopian decaf coffee comes to us from Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest such political regional state, including more than 110,000 square miles and 35 million people. It touches the borders of both Kenya to the south and South Sudan to the west, and includes Ethiopia’s massive capital city, Addis Ababa, along with 65% of Ethiopia coffee growing territory, as of 2014. There are a number of famous coffee regions included in full or in part in Oromia: Jimma and Illubabor in the west; Harar to the northeast; Arsi, bordering Sidama in the mid-south, which produces many similar terroirs; and the Guji Zone, where Royal also works with a diversity of forward-thinking growers and processors. 

The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is an umbrella organization established in 1999 by 34 individual cooperatives interested in centralizing resources and gaining leverage in the export market. As of 2020, OCFCU supports more than 400 individual cooperatives–more than 400,000 households, by far the largest unionization of farmers in the country. Premiums from coffee exports are returned directly to farmers, and the union also funds organic farming programs, mill equipment purchases, and food security programs. OCFCU has established a central cupping lab to support quality control and is a founding shareholder in its members’ bank, the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, that provides pre-harvest financing and crop insurance; both resources historically unavailable to rural farmers in Ethiopia.  OCFCU has been Fairtrade and Organic certified since 2002 and ever since has been one of the world’s largest suppliers of Fairtrade coffee.   

Local cooperatives carry out activities that often go unnoticed but are crucial for small producers, including training producers in best organic practices and investing in basic infrastructure needs like road improvements and establishing local warehouses. SCFCU focuses on establishing a certification process for local cooperatives, creating micro-credit for producers and investing in social programs on a larger scale. Environmental training programs, healthcare initiatives, life insurance, and educational opportunities are just some of the ways OCFCU strives to improve the quality of life for coffee producers and their families. 

Royal sourced this coffee prior to decaffeination directly from OCFCU through our Royal Select program selected based on cup profile, physical preparation, and potential to express excellently once decaffeinated. It was then shipped, in this case to Swiss Water in Canada to undergo “Swiss Water Processing.” During the water process, the green coffee is pre-soaked in water to expand the beans for caffeine extraction. The hydrated green coffee is then introduced to a unique solution of concentrated coffee solubles that draw out the caffeine while minimizing the loss of flavor compounds. Once the caffeine has been removed the green coffee is re-dried and re-bagged for transport, and the extract solution is filtered of its caffeine and recycled to be used again. 

 

green

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Decaffeination alters green coffee significantly, in more ways than just removing the caffeine. Because the coffee is dampened or soaked and then redried during the process, we very frequently see greater instability in moisture (a higher percentage of unbound water) reflected in unusually high water activity numbers paired with very normal looking total moisture content. This Crown Jewel reflects that idiosyncrasy, met with relatively low density and a smallish and slightly wide screen size. 

Beyond the interesting green measurements, the coffee also has the characteristic dull gray-green appearance of the Swiss Water processing method. These coffees tend to be a little meek in the roaster when it comes to showing color change, though they should start looking a little more like roasted coffee by the time you reach first crack. 

With all this in mind, keep a look out for our notes on roasting these delicious, unique decaffeinated beans. 

diedrich ir-5

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido 

One of the most important things to take into consideration before roasting this coffee is that it is small in size but also has high moisture content and low density and water activity. With this information in mind, I came up with a roasting plan: a moderate charge temp 376F with 70% gas from the beginning until my halfway between turn up point and color change.  

With a good push on the gas I was hoping to get 170F + on my turning point. Luckily, I was able to hit 176.4F and with that temperature I was feeling confident enough to lower my gas before color change, mainly because I was afraid to start flying in Maillard, and knowing I was roasting a decaf and therefore wanted to be gentle during yellowing. 

Catching color change on a decaf is kind of a challenge; I had to go by temperature, by smelling, and I ended up marking it at 290F which probably was not too accurate. Decaf tends to be a darkish kind of bean which makes it harder to eyeball color change. 

I lowered my gas to 45% at 290.4F. My rate of rise was starting to lower, and I thought that I had enough energy to get through the Maillard and hit the first crack at a good pace. That was what I thought, but this coffee had its own plans. The density was showing itself, taking all the energy, and I had to start fueling with 50% air flow to keep my rate of rise on track. 

At 363F I opened 100% air flow, hoping that the 45% gas would help me keep good momentum for post-crack development. Finally, I heard a soft cracking in the drum. Even though wasn’t loud, the expansion of the bean was visually noticeable, so I marked first crack at 381.4F. 

My post-crack development plan was to get close to 20% with a long 2 minutes, keeping the end temp around 403F. I was looking for 56 on the Agtron scale for my ground color (which is our target for decaf). 

I did my last gas movement at 397F, a couple degrees late for my taste. Because of that delay I had to  kill the burners at 402F, reach my 2 minutes of post development, and drop the coffee at 408F. 

At the cupping the next day, I was finding all the caramelized sugars from the long Maillard, but I was nervous about the lack of bright acidity I had tasted before on the sample roast. Tasting the first brew was eye opening – caramelized brown sugar, marshmallow, a soft and comforting cup of coffee with a slight taste of toastiness. 

This coffee will hit the Tasting Room bar as espresso and we will probably make some changes to Maillard if more acidity is needed for espresso. For now, I was pleased by the brew, and by Sandra Loofbourow’s tasting note when I asked her what her thoughts on this coffee roast: elegant she called it, and I was all of it, at the end of the day that’s what I enjoy in a coffee cup. Don’t forget that this is a decaf, but not just any one – an Ethiopian decaf. 

aillio bullet R1

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman 

Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.  

Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing! 

Say what you will, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as a good, decaffeinated coffee. No worries about having your fifth or sixth cup of the day, no worries at all. The worrying comes beforehand, when you start your plan for the roasting day. Sometimes, as with this coffee, any fretting is completely unfounded.  

I started this roast off like many of my recent roasts, at 428F charge and F2 fan. The differences here were that I used P2 until Turning Point, and d5 throughout the roast – a slightly lower drum speed for this 500g batch. At Turning Point I ramped up heat to P8, and a little before yellowing (or what I sussed out to be yellowing) I increased fan speed to F3. At 340F / 6:20 I reduced heat to P7 and increased fan to F4, anticipating that this coffee would retain heat easily from this point until First Crack. As I witnessed my RoR flattening out at about 370F / 8:20, I reduced heat further to P6 and let this coffee roll into first crack. I only reduced delta further at about 400F / 10:45 by switching to P4 and F5, just to abate some extra smoke and really let this coffee roll slowly through post-crack development.  

I was able to achieve 41% in Green, 38% in Maillard, and 20% in post-crack development for this roast. This aligns pretty well what I was going for, knowing that this coffee has a higher water activity than many others we see due to being decaf. After many trials and tribulations, I have found that older coffees and those with higher water activity really benefit from longer drying times. My stepwise reduction of heat application and increase of airflow led to a very steady decline in Delta/Rate of Rise, and I got a good deal of post-crack development, something both Doris and I were shooting for with this delicious decaf. 

Oh yes, I should mention that this turned out to be the tastiest decaffeinated coffee I’ve had all year. I know it’s only March, but it’s still worth a remark. Clean lemon acidity was the first thing I noticed, but this was quickly replaced by sweet dark chocolate and marshmallow sugars. Contrary to many decaffeinated coffees I’ve had, the finish was very clean, and left my palate with a little raspberry-like fruitiness. This coffee didn’t get me caffeinated, but it did have me excited enough to drink an entire 600mL Chemex in one sitting. The coffee improves very well on cooling, so much that I kept drinking it well after it was cold.  

I would recommend this coffee for any preparation method at all. Ethiopian coffees are some of my favorites, even when decaffeinated. Chug often and chug deeply! 

You can find my profile for this coffee here, on roast.world: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/R94gmiugMmEuSqIR036fm 

ikawa pro v3

Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Standard practice these days for Ikawa roasting is to put our Crown Jewels through a gamut of 4 reliable profiles at what we’d consider to be “drinkable” sample roast levels. The profiles have been developed and refined over time to showcase the best of various green metrics and processing styles to give us a window into their performance on our production roasters. 

At our Ikawa roast cupping, this decaf Ethiopian offering from Oromia showed a lot of versatility, shining at three of our four usual profiles. Surprisingly, the hot and fast standard sample roast came through with incredible flavor clarity despite being a little thin. This suggests that, contrary to many decafs, the coffee may handle higher charge temperatures and faster roasts with grace. 

Our extended Maillard profile offered a lot of sugary sweetness, with some unique floral flavors like lemongrass and hints of sweet herbs which paired nicely with a delicate watermelon note. Lastly, the lower airflow profile, as expected, enhanced the body and fullness bringing forward more of a cherry-pie fruit character while retaining the floral/herbal flavors and brown sugar sweetness of the extended Maillard reactions. 

Based on exploring these small, short roasts, I suspect you’ll have a hard time ruining these beans. However, you also have a wide range of flavors you could play towards (or away from) depending on your preferred style of roasting.  

 

You can roast your own by linking to our profiles in the Ikawa Pro app here: 

Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0   

Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Roast 3: Crown 7m SR LowAF 2 

brew

Brew Analysis by Colin Cahill and Kaleb Ede 

We take special pleasure in working on exquisite decafs, and love featuring them in our tasting room to push the boundaries of what people expect from decaf coffees. Widely used decaffeination methods can strip a coffee of its most dynamic flavors and use synthetic materials, but the Swiss Water Process naturally removes caffeine and helps maintain coffee’s beloved nuances. This Natural Ethiopian coffee is no exception; so many natural processed characteristics are present in the cup. We brewed this coffee on a couple of different pour over devices and we were oh so excited to try this as espresso.  

For espresso we dosed it out at 19 grams of coffee, with a 38 gram yield in 29 seconds. This resulted in a extraction with lots of body–like heavy cream—and notes of dried strawberry and cocoa. While delicious on its own, this would also be delicious with some milk. The notes of this coffee would pull through anything from a cortado to a latte.  

We brewed this coffee with the Fellow brewer as well as the V60. Both brews gave us very different cups, however, we favored the V60. We worked with a 1:15 ratio with 20 grams of coffee and 320 grams of water. This cup was sweet and juicy, tasting like a clean natural with plenty of fruit-forward characteristics like plum, fresh strawberry, Asian pear with some baking spice undertones and milk chocolate. We’ve been primarily serving decaf coffees on our espresso bar, but this is one that will sing on our pour over bar and will make a delicious cold brew. We hope you enjoy this tasty, versatile natural decaf as much as we do! 

Origin Information

Grower
Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative
Variety
Indigenous heirloom
Region
Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Harvest
October – December
Altitude
1550 – 2200 masl
Soil
Vertisol
Process
Full natural and dried on raised beds
Certifications
Organic

Background Details

DECAF ETHIOPIA FT ORGANIC NATURAL SIDAMO 4 ROYAL SELECT SWISS WATER PROCESS is curated from lots that the Royal team has selected based on cup profile, physical preparation, and potential to express excellently once decaffeinated. During the Swiss Water process, the green coffee is hydrated to expand the beans for caffeine extraction. The hydrated green coffee is then introduced to Green Coffee Extract (GCE), a unique solution of concentrated coffee solubles that allows the caffeine to leave the green coffee via osmosis while minimizing the loss of desired flavor compounds. Once the caffeine has been removed the green coffee is re-dried and re-bagged for transport, and the GCE is filtered of its caffeine through proprietary carbon filters and recycled to be used again.