Flavor Profile Lime, cherry, strawberry, cocoa, sweet
Check out our Guide to Ethiopian Coffee Grades
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This is a traditional natural coffee from Worka Sakaro, Ethiopia, produced by Marta Alemu.
The flavor profile centers around deep notes of fudge and blackberry and lighter tones of kiwi and raspberry.
Our roasters caution that the coffee will tend to fly at first crack!
When brewed the coffee tended toward high extraction profile and felt most balanced on an up-dosed flatbed brewer using a moderately coarse grind.
Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman
This is a great example of a choose your own adventure style of coffee, with a lot of options for roasters and baristas alike in terms of flavor. As with most excellent natural Ethiopias, the baseline flavor of the coffee centers around deep fruit tones. In Marta Alemu’s harvest this year, we noted a lot of blackberry and strawberry, with some hints of raspberry and kiwi, generally skewing towards the slightly tart side of the spectrum.
This is balanced out by a deep fudgy character and buttery mouthfeel. Lots of folks noted “pie-like” in their fruit descriptors, as well, giving the impression of the kinds of sweet, sticky, syrupy fruits and baked flavors we often associate with classic desserts.
In both roasting and brewing, our team noticed the coffee responded quickly to small changes, so it seems like it would be easy to shape these types of inherent characteristics to your particular style or preference. Lean into the fudginess and baked fruits if you like a deeper cup or pull back a little and let the brighter berry tones lift the cup to a more effervescent experience. With a coffee like this, there’s no wrong choice.
Source Analysis by Mayra Orellana-Powell
The creation of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) in 2008 significantly limited full traceability back to specific farmers. In response, Royal established the Single Farmer Lots Program to separate single farmer lots from the larger cooperative blends sold through the ECX. The foundation for directly purchasing single farmer lots began in 2012. Yearly farm visits from Royal CEO Max Nicholas-Fulmer and regular communication with farmers through Haile Andualem, Royal’s representative on the ground in Ethiopia, has been an essential component for ensuring that farmers and washing stations are following strict farm management and post-harvest protocols. The results have been an ever-increasing number of 89+ lots with higher returns for the individual producers.
Marta Alemu Kanke cultivated this single farmer lot on her 6-acre farm near the town of Worka Sakaro located in the heart of the coveted Gedeb growing region. Marta grew up helping her father cultivating coffee and only recently started her own farm. This is the first year, with the help of the single lot program, that she has been able to sell her coffee as a micro-lot. Coffee is Marta’s main source of income that she uses to support her family of 10.
Ripe cherries for this natural processed coffee were carefully hand sorted and floated to remove less dense and damaged coffee beans. Next the cherries were dried on raised beds for 15 to 20 days and turned regularly to avoid over-fermentation and mold. Raised beds are carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control, for optimal drying. Cherries were covered during the afternoons to prevent harsh drying in the intense sun. Once the cherries have dried to 11 percent moisture, they were transported to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to be milled and prepared for export.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
No surprises here, this Grade 1 Natural from Marta Alemu in southern Ethiopia is high in density, low in moisture, and small in screen size. As with other coffees from Ethiopia, you can expect a solid green coffee shelf life and to probably need a little more heat than average during roasting. Keep an eye on the rate of change at first crack, as natural processed coffees like this one have a reputation for taking off.
While there are certainly true heirloom coffees grown in much of Ethiopia, it’s also true that a relatively small number of highly controlled cultivars — both lab-crafted hybrids and selected landraces — are often the main components of specialty coffees throughout the nation. The selections have not been denoted here for us, but it’s fair to assume they are similar stock to the greater southern coffee regions, hardy and well adapted for cultivation in this, one of the world’s most coveted terroirs.
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido
To roast this coffee, I wanted to exploit the fruity flavors from the natural process while trying to maintain a clean finish on the mouthfeel, as I knew this coffee has a bolder body and I wanted to develop sweetness without diminishing the acidity. I looked forward to doing a fast roast but not to risk losing control of the coffee during the first crack, when the coffee loses all moisture. That part of the roast is key, and I recommend being careful.
For this analysis I have tried twice: on my first try I blinked for a second during post-development and my roast started flying. My second try went as I expected. I started the roast with a temperature of 420F / 80% gas and lowered the gas just as the coffee was coloring. This coffee was processed natural, and that makes some changes in how the bean will react. And even when I was expecting some unusual behavior just before and during post-development it took me two tries to make it right! I spent 50% of the roast in the drying phase looking to bring out the fruity notes and only 2:18 minutes in Maillard. At this phase I applied the air, first 50% at 331F and the full 100% at 360F. I wanted to keep it clean, and it worked. First crack started at 379F, and with a high rate of rise at that moment 23/60 seconds, I decided to kill the burners and drop the coffee at 404F with 1:20 seconds post-development time. Clean, apple pie blackberry jam, butter, cranberry, grape. Overall clean cup, a little dry but with bold fruit flavors that give it a long aftertaste finished with a complex citric and tart acidity.
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!
As Ethiopian coffees flow in, we always see some familiar names. Marta Alemu is one that I recall from last year, and one I remember as being super full and fruity in a berry-forward manner. This year, dear reader, has proved deliciously different. While typically dry and heavy with high density numbers, this year’s lot is crisp and clean in comparison to last year’s syrupy berry profile. Last year’s cooked strawberry, blueberry, and juicy peach were superseded by crisp limey acidity, strawberry candy sweetness, fresh fig, and Pink Lady apple juiciness.
With this coffee’s green attributes, I wanted to hit it with plenty of heat straight off the bat. I began with 455F charge temperature, P8 power, and F2 fan. This built the coffee up to one of my highest RoR numbers yet, 39F/min. Any higher than this, and I believe I would have risked scorching the coffee. Due to that whole situation, I began reducing heat to P7 as the coffee hit 35F/min at 1:40 / 260F, sooner than I generally would. I increased airflow to F3 at 2:30 / 293F, then F4 at 3:20 / 320F as yellowing began. I really wanted to pull this coffee gently through the Maillard stage, so I reduced heat to P6 quite early at 4:35 / 340F (I would generally do this around 360F). This coffee kept right on going, so I increased fan speed to my usual maximum of F5 well before first crack at 6:08 / 363F and noticed the usual spike in RoR that happens before First Crack, concurrently reducing heat to basement levels at P5, then increasing fan speed to F6, an amount of airflow that should have guaranteed a complete crash. Not so, in this case: I was able to finish this roast with 12% development at just below 396F, at a total roast time of 9:18. I met all my goals for this roast, but it took some finagling! 50% of the roast in Maillard on a natural coffee makes a happy Evan.
If you’ll notice, I got so excited about this coffee that I put the tasting notes right up front. Marta Alemu’s coffee is one for the books, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the horizon for this one next year as well. The last few coffees we have received from Ethiopia have all been phenomenal, and now after tasting them I am having a hard time choosing a favorite. This one is for the hard candy lovers out there – sweetness and tart acidity for days, with the potential to become a truly syrupy confection at darker roast levels. Chug away!
Brew Analysis by Katie Briggs
We are super excited to finally see some super tasty natural processed coffees coming in from Ethiopia! This beautiful natural coffee from Marta Alemu Kanke’s farm is no exception. Traditionally natural and exceptionally tasty. We were excited to get some brews going and see what flavors we could bring out and where this coffee could go. So, let’s get started!
We started with a typical dose of 19 grams, and we decided to grind it at a 10.5 as a starting point. We used the V60 cone brewer and started with a 50g dose of water for 40 seconds for our initial bloom. We took it up to 200 grams of water after the 40 seconds, then up to 300 grams for the final dose. This brew gave a TDS of 1.51 and brought out some interesting notes of bright almost ripe strawberry, raspberry, tart candy with a rich fudgy sweetness.
For the next brew we wanted to bring out a bit more of the sweetness of this coffee, so we upped the dose to 21 grams, and coarsened the grind to 12. We decided to switch brewers to the F70 flatbed brewer, starting with the same 50-gram dose of water and 40 second bloom time. Then up to 200, and then 300 grams to finish. We ended up with a much quicker brew at about 3:00 with a TDS of 1.52 that gave us the sweetness we were looking for with big notes of fudge, blackberry, papaya with still a little dryness to finish it out.
We really wanted to find a good middle ground between the bright, tart fruity notes and the fudgy sweetness, so we decided to coarsen the grind just a little bit to 11 and stick with the same brew method as the previous brew. We decided that this was the tastiest brew! It gave us a brew time of 3:10 with a TDS of 1.63, which is typically a bit high and not desirable, but seemed to work for this coffee. It gave us fun notes of raspberry and kiwi, while still having a rich caramel and fudgy sweetness that we were all loving.
We recommend a flat-bottomed brewer, with a higher dose, and a courser grind. This is a super tasty cup that we enjoyed playing around with and is perfect to enjoy this fall/winter season!