Mirroring “Red Cherry” Project coffees we’ve offered in the past, this Ethiopian coffee from the Danbi Uddo kebele of Shakiso in the Guji zone sets a high standard for quality. Its flavor profile reminds me a bit of the “classic” Sidama coffees from a few years ago: bergamot and aromatic bitters with plentiful citrus. Guji coffees always seem a little fuller, and rounder, and this generalization holds true for this Danbi Uddo, as well.
The triple washing undertaken to produce this coffee entails a pre-processing cherry flotation, as part of the red cherry selection, to sort out any underdeveloped or low density coffee. After pulping and fermenting, the coffee will be washed in grading channels and finally soaked in clean water overnight before it dries on raised beds.
To say that recent history in Ethiopia has seen significant changes to the social and political structure of the country would be an understatement. We’ve seen numerous regional uprisings, the election of Africa’s youngest political leader, opening diplomatic dialogue with Eritrea, and a major overhaul in the way the country’s commodities exchange handles exports and direct trade – and that’s just in the last calendar year!
Coffees like this one, from Ethiopia’s rural southern growing areas, remind us of some of the region’s best flavors, and partnerships like the one we’ve developed with Testi Trading Company and the washing station in Danbi Uddo are a testament to the kind of trading partnership that can improve both the quality of coffee and quality of life for the smallholder farmer.
We have a very classic looking washed Guji, here. Small screen size, about 80% below screen 16, paired with very dry moisture numbers and a super stable looking water activity. The density is especially high on this lot, so it may take a little extra heat to push through your Maillard Reaction when roasting, but the green should hold very well on the shelf.
Ethiopia’s genetic diversity of coffee is no secret, but increased attention is being paid to distinguishing cultivars and varieties, thanks in part to the work undertaken by Tim Hill and Getu Bekele. Established in the 1960s, the Jimma Agricultural Research Center was instrumental in selecting, breeding, and distributing scores of cultivars throughout the country in the decades following Haile Selassie’s downfall. These have included region-specific varieties, specialty cultivars, and hybrids and wild selections made for disease resistance.
This lovely Ethiopian coffee is small with relatively low moisture, very dense and has a very low water activity. In my experience, there is more predictability in estimating how a coffee will react in the roast with a high water activity compared to low water activity coffees. High water activity coffees need a gentle introduction into first crack with a low rate of change so they do not race away from you. With the high density and low water activity I assumed that this coffee will need a lot of heat throughout the roast and opted to use a roast profile that is slightly longer that my usual 4:45 minute profile that I like for Ethiopian coffees. The hope is to give this coffee a bit more heat for post crack development time, but honestly this is one thing that is difficult to control with the Ikawa because the only adjustable variables are temperature setting and fan speed.
On the cupping table this coffee is very classically floral and almost spicy on the palate. While the citrus acidity was bright, there was little development in the sugar browning department. I think a slightly longer roast could have done the trick. If I was to roast this coffee again, I would lengthen the time between yellow and first crack by 15 seconds and shorten the drying time as well since this coffee is dry enough already.
Learning from my Ikawa roast, I decided to start this roast at 371F which is my go to charge temperature for a 400g batch in the Probatino. Less than 2 minutes into the roast I turned the heat up to 3 gas which is the max for such a small batch. My rate of change stayed rather high throughout the entire roast. Just before first crack I turned the heat down to 2 ¾ gas which enabled me to reach first crack with a 6.2F/30 seconds rate of change. One additional heat reduction lengthened the post crack development time so that I could finish the roast +10F degrees above my first crack temperature.
With so much heat applied throughout the roast a ton of florals came to the forefront on the cupping table. Floral flavors can be sweet like nectar in spring blossoms and they can be dynamic and bitter like campari or aromatic bitters used for cocktails. This coffee had both and was supported by lovely citrus and stonefruit undertones. This is a really cool and unique coffee flavor profile, one that I will easily remember and seek out in years to come.
This week, I had the pleasure of using some working coffee roast logging software for the Quest M3s! After many trials and different setups, I found a system that works. For these roasts, I used a simple K Type thermocouple in the default BT position, just below the trier on the M3s.
For my initial warm up, I still leave the back open to speed up the process. However, for the next few roasts I am leaving the back closed from the beginning of the roast cycle in order to introduce the slightest bit of airflow from the outset. For this roast in particular, I started the roast off with the fan set to 2, and the power set to 9A.
I also used higher charge temperatures (as read by the BT probe) this week: 390F. This added heat at the beginning of the roast cycle didn’t alter my turning point very much at all. Turning point time was within 5 seconds of last week’s roasts, and turning point temperatures were on average 15F warmer.
This particular coffee was easy to roast, and seemed to take heat well. Since the fan was set to 2 from the very beginning my turning point happened at a slightly lower temperature, but a fairly consistent time in relation to my other roasts (193F/1:13). I added more fan speed at an earlier point than usual (294F/4:15), but the roast kept chugging along. I chose not to decrease heat application, and kept a full 9A on throughout this roast. Anticipating the onset of first crack, I upped the fan speed to 6 at 380F/9:15 since the decline of my rate of rise (also known as ΔBT) was flattening out.
Immediately at first crack (386F/9:41) I pushed the fan to full speed and allowed the coffee to develop for another 1:19 until 11:00 total time. The crack on this coffee was a bit shallow, but definitely apparent. If i were to change anything about this coffee, it would be to have a bit more post-crack development – but not much.
This coffee was very sweet and full on the cupping table, but perhaps a bit tart. There were some bright florals, and a juicy crabapple or yellow peach flavor that presided over some interesting herbal notes. Some said lemongrass, others chrysanthemum. This is a complex coffee, the type that will have you coming back for sips trying to understand what it reminds you of.
This triple washed coffee bursts with tart fruit sweetness, highlighting notes of cherry, yellow peach, plum, and crabapple. The finish is decidedly floral, with jasmine, hibiscus, and lemongrass coming through in the delicate aftermath of the main event. All of these are tied together with a thick body and chocolate undertone, with a hint of cooling mint or thyme.
I brewed this Danbi Uddo on a V60 and a P70, using the same recipe for both. There were quite a few fines, resulting in a silty brew bed and overly long drainage time on the P70. This can be remedied by grinding coarser to compensate for the choking of the fines, by using a flat bottomed brewer like a Kalita, or by sifting out the fines entirely using a micron sieve like the Kruve. There’s no need to worry about it too much: even with a nearly six minute brew, the prevalent notes were of strawberry, jasmine, and cocoa.