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intro

This lovely coffee hails from Worka-Sakaro, a neighborhood (kebele) in the Gedeb district (woreda) of the Gedeo Zone – also home to the more famous Yirgacheffe woreda. The Gedeo people in the region received the honorific “worik” (ወርቅ, Amharic for “gold”) from government surveyors who were redrawing regional boundaries. They then attached the Gedeo translation (“worka”) to their word for a huge local tree, Sakaro.

The microregion is rich with coffee, and this selection from the privately owned Wuri washing station (Wuri is Gedeo for “high elevation) was grown by smallholder farmers living in the area. The washing station has already established itself with a reputation for quality and experimentation, preparing what they claim is Ethiopia’s first anaerobically prepared coffee for Berg Wu (2016 World Barista Champion, from Taiwan).

The Premium selection prepared for Royal was grown at or above 2000 meters, soaked in clean water after washing, pulping, and fermenting, and dried on raised beds. It is an incredibly floral coffee, rich with jasmine and hibiscus notes. Complimentary stone and tropical fruit flavors are present in excellent balance: lots of mango and peach mentions at the cupping table, with a hint of that sweet/buttery combination commonly associated with chardonnay wines. It’s one of our favorites this season, with cup scores from some Crown team members exceeding 90 points on certain roasts.

green

A very dry green coffee here, with quite low water activity figures as well. Otherwise, this lot from the Wuri washing station is small in screen size and high in density – pretty standard stuff for washed Ethiopian coffees.

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.

taste

ikawa

This premium Ethiopian coffee is quite small with relatively low moisture and density, but has an extremely low water activity reading. 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 lower density and very low water activity I really was quite unsure of what to expect. Low moisture will give me a shorter drying stage, lower density means that I may not need as much heat to get through first crack, but the low water activity means that this coffee does not readily want to give that moisture up. I decided to use a longer roast profile than I normally use for Ethiopian coffees just so I would have more time to observe what happens when with this specific coffee.

Looking at the heat profile in the second graph, it looks like some extra heat was required to make it to reach yellowing and then there was a dramatic reduction once it was achieved. This line is usually is a straight line with most coffees. The heat application throughout the rest of the roast looks normal to my eye.

On the cupping table this coffee was recognizably a sweet and floral ethiopian coffee, but some of the acidity tasted subdued and muddled. First crack occurred slightly later than I had suspected as well. It will be interesting to see what trends continue on to the Probatino. Overall, I think this profile gave this coffee some baked notes. I recommend shortening the drying stage and the overall roast time by at least 15 seconds.

probatino

This coffee from Wuri is the classic Ethiopian that you have been looking for. Learning from the Ikawa roast, I knew that I wanted to increase the organic acid expression of the coffee and to keep the roast short to avoid baked flavors. I started with a relatively normal charge temperature for a small 400g batch on my Probatino. I waited to turn up the heat until just before yellowing because of how hot my drum was after nine batches. This gave the roast a nice boost of energy through Maillard and I reduced the heat at 392F and I was surprised to find that first crack did not fully start until 399.7F. I reduced heat again and stretched my post crack development time to just over a minute and there was only a +6F difference between my first crack temperature and the end of the roast.

On the cupping table this coffee was distinctly classic flavors of bergamot and lemon at the forefront and complemented by a sweet peach nectar and black tea.

Quest

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, I started with the fan set to 2 for extra airflow.

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.

I started off this roast at 9.5A. My turning point was a bit lower in temperature, but had timing consistent with most of my roasts: 193F/1:20. This coffee really took on heat quickly, and I engaged the fan to 4 at 323F/5:15. The heat continued to climb, and I reduced heat to 7.5A at 365F/7:15. Half a minute later, I increased the fan speed to 6 at 374F/7:45. Again, I found that fan speed is the most effective way to influence roast on the Quest, and I didn’t reach crack until 390F/8:41. I allowed the coffee to develop for 1:19 and dropped the batch at 401F/10:00.

My drying time and Maillard time were almost equally proportioned for this roast, and the result was excellent. This coffee ranged from delicious candy bar sweetness to bright and lively raspberry and chocolate. Each tasting brought out more, with big sweet florals like violet and white peach. If you ever wanted to drink a Twix bar covered in flowers, this is your chance. I am a big fan of this coffee!

brew

I’m a little at a loss as to what to say for this analysis. This coffee is phenomenal. It tastes like a twix bar eaten on a field of wildflowers with a violet stuck up your nose. Or like a hibiscus and raspberry jam milk chocolate syrup. Or like a crisp ripe pear drizzled with caramel. You get the picture: this coffee is delicious. Do what you want with it, it will probably taste amazing.

I happened to brew it on a V60 and a P70, using the same recipe for both. Although the P70 took about 45 seconds longer to finish draining, it had a much lower TDS. This tells me that there was probably some channeling going on in the narrow cone of the brewer. However, since the V60 had a relatively high extraction percentage, and both tasted positively magical, I felt no need to re brew – other than to be able to keep drinking this coffee forever.

I spent last weekend organizing the Good Food Awards blind tasting, and although I wasn’t a judge I did get to taste some great coffees. My first thought upon tasting this washed Ethiopia was “This could have been a GFA winner”. You deserve to try this coffee, and this coffee deserves to be roasted and brewed to perfection. Pick up a box before it runs out!

Origin Information

Grower
850 producers organized around Wuri Processing Station
Variety
Indigenous cultivars
Region
Worka-Sakaro kebele, Gedeb woreda, Gedeo Zone, SNNP Region, Ethiopia
Harvest
October – January
Altitude
2050 – 2100 masl
Soil
Vertisol
Process
Fully washed and dried on raised beds
Certifications

Background Details

The district of Gedeb takes up the south-eastern corner of Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone—a narrow section of plateau dense with savvy farmers whose coffee is known as “Yirgacheffe”, after the zone’s most famous district. Gedeb, however, is a terroir, history, and community all its own that merits unique designation in our eyes. The region is a thriving market landscape that links commerce between the Guji and Gedeo Zones, and contains an expansive network of processing stations who often buy cherry from across zone borders. Processors across Gedeb would argue (and we would agree) that their coffee profiles are not exactly Yirgacheffe, but something of their own. Cup profiles, in many cases produced closer to Guji than the rest of Yirgacheffe, are often the most explosive we see from anywhere in Ethiopia. Naturals tend to have perfume-like volatiles, and fully washed lots are often sparklingly clean and fruit candy-like in structure. Communities around Gedeb reach some of the highest growing elevations for coffee in the world and have a long history of arabica preservation and genetic diversity. Worka-Sakaro is a municipality located in northeast Gedeb close to the Guji border. It is a remote but impressively industrious area for coffee production. Of the 1300 hectares that comprise the area, over half of them are planted with coffee. Up to a few years ago when coffee exports were allowed only limited channels, the vast majority of coffee grown in this area was either processed and exported by the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU), consolidated under the wide-reaching Worka Cooperative, or sold anonymously through the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Today, however, in addition to the Worka Cooperative splitting into multiple smaller coops, there are increasing numbers of single farm owners and independent companies who are processing and exporting direct. It is an exciting time to be buying in Gedeb, where we expect to see new layers of coffee continuously unfold as its local industry accelerates. Currently there are two private washing stations in Worka-Sakaro, one of which is Wuri, whose name in the Gedeo language translates to “high altitude”. The station was originally constructed in 2012 and today is owned by Ranger Industry & Trading PLC. Wuri, aside from producing assertive and tropical fully washed coffees, is also focused on achieving a diversity of processing and milling standards in order to iterate on local traditions and expand expectations of coffees from this area. Our “Premium Preparation” lots, while carefully fermented and washed under fresh water like a typical fully washed Ethiopia, are treated to additional sorting at the dry mill, including extra passes in the color sorter and longer, slower hand-removal of imperfections. The extra work definitely shows in the cup. Private processors like Wuri are a thing to behold. It’s a tough business being a private processor in Gedeo, as the sheer density of competition among washing stations tends to push cherry prices as high as double throughout a single harvest, and privates often don’t have the backing of a larger union to secure financing, regulate cherry prices, or bring export costs down with centralized milling and marketing. Successful private washing stations like Wuri, then, need to be not only standout quality processors to stay afloat; they must also be excellent business developers with connections and community standing, in order to continue winning the business of farmers and buyers alike, and stay afloat for the long term.