Coffee from one of our favorite faces from Ethiopia, Bedhatu Jibicho, has returned for its fourth iteration as a Crown Jewel this season.
In the past, we’d been able to secure her coffee through a special agreement with the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, in which they held separate and sold to us directly lots like that of Bedhatu. However, this season Bedhatu and her neighbors have banded together, using the premiums they’ve received to establish a farmer-owned export company to sell us their coffee independently.
Bedhatu Jibicho is a native to the Worka region of Gedeb. At over 80 years old, she might be the most experienced farmer we work with, having co-managed (with her late husband) the 23-hectare plot of government-allotted farmland since the 1960s. Her family continues to work the farm, especially aided recently by her son Tesfaye Roba.
Originally part of the Worka cooperative, Mrs. Jibicho joined the Banko Gotiti cooperative when it opened in 2013 and that same year, her farm was recognized as a community model, and she took specialty coffee preparation training. Royal is a loyal buyer of Mrs. Jibicho’s coffees, and we’re especially proud to bring this storied and spectacular coffee to the roasting market.
This selection from Bedhatu Jibicho offers an unique opportunity to taste the very specific terroir of this farm, in this tiny border-region of Southern Ethiopia, the homeland of Arabica. Drying coffee in the cherry, as Bedhatu Jibicho has done, is the original tradition in Ethiopia. Often referred to as “natural” or “dry process,” coffee dried in the fruit with minimal processing is Ethiopia’s original preparation method. 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 major coffee producing country whose volume of consumption equals its export.
Bedhatu Jibicho’s coffee exhibits a number of the hallmarks common to Ethiopian coffees including high density and low moisture content. More notable to my inspection was its exceptionally small in screen size. It’s quite normal for Ethiopian coffees to be small, but this selection is just tiny, with more than 50% below screen 15 – sizes that would have been sorted completely out in nearly every other specialty coffee in other areas of the world. Also noteworthy is the water activity of the coffee. While not terribly high, it’s above the expectation for a relatively dry coffee, likely an indication of its relatively early harvest and milling compared to other coffees from the region.
I decided to use the shortest sample roast profile that I like for washed Ethiopian coffees to see what this coffee would have to offer in the way of organic acids. Ikawa Roast (1) actually had very punchy and zesty acids, but lacked a solid sweet base. So, I decided to extend the total roast time and threw in an additional curve ball by eliminating my forced turning point setting on the temperature profile.
The forced turning point elimination resulted in a shorter drying stage and interestingly, a higher first crack temperature. I am not sure why this happened exactly, but it did occur with all three Ethiopian coffees I roasted this week, whether they were wet or dry process. Ikawa Roast (2) with a very long Maillard phase and extremely short post crack development (15 seconds) was lively and sweet. While Ikawa Roast (3) with the same profile but increased post crack development time (34 seconds) had more sugar browning flavors dominate the cup. My preference was for Ikawa Roast (2), but I am curious to taste what a modified version of Ikawa Roast (1) with a longer Maillard and a total roast time of 5:15 minutes would offer.
Using our Ikawa roasts as a guideline, I knew that I needed to lengthen the Maillard stage to develop a balanced sweetness on the cupping table. This was true on the Ikawa as a primarily convection roaster, but my results on the Probatino were slightly different. The Probatino 1 kilo roaster is a bit overpowered so the conductive energy in this coffee went a long way. The coffee was sweet and slightly overpowered by sugar browning flavors. While there was some jamminess in the cup, it was still a secondary flavor. I have also seen a correlation between high water activity coffees and high first crack temperatures. This coffee started first crack very late, at 403 °F, ten degrees higher than most coffees that I roast. My rule of thumb is usually to finish a roast at least 10°F higher than the start of first crack, which put this coffee into a medium roast range. For more acidity and berries, I recommend reducing heat soon after first crack to allow for sufficient time after first crack, but with a much lower end temperature at the finish.
Bedhatu Jibicho is a hero of mine. I was lucky enough to buy this coffee for two consecutive years when I worked as a green buyer. In a male dominated industry, Bedhatu has spent the last 50 plus years managing a farm that continues to be a model to others in her community; a farm that continues to produce delicious beans year after year.
I’ve spent the last week playing around with the Kruve sifter, which allows a barista to sift ground coffee through micron screens in order to control the exact particle size of the coffee. Whereas normal brewing incorporates fines that get immediately over extracted and boulders which will never be fully penetrated by the brew water, limiting particle size to something a little more uniform can make a barista more confident about extracting each grain of ground coffee to the same degree.
Starting with my standard v60 recipe, I ground Bedhatu’s coffee at setting 8 on our EK43 and did a 1:16 ratio recipe. The resulting brew was full of sweet berries, concord grape, baked apples, toffee, and a red wine finish. Though packed full of delicious flavors, it was a little unbalanced and needed a bit of refinement.
Using the 400μm and 1200μm filters, I ground 40g of coffee on setting 8 directly into the Kruve and agitated it for about 3 minutes. This resulted in 9.25% boulders and 7.5% fines, with the remaining 83.25% of the grounds sitting between the two filters. The two screen sizes I used were fairly far apart – further than the 400 and 900μm Kruve suggests using for drip coffee. However my intention was simply to remove the biggest boulders and the smallest fines, so that the majority my ground coffee would end up between the two filters.
With these uniform coffee grounds, I set up the same brew recipe: 25g of coffee in and 400g out with 100g pulse pours. The result was a deliciously crisp brew full of sweet pear, cranberry, vanilla, loquats, pomegranate, ripe apricot, and caramel. It was definitely cleaner than the first cup, but lacked some of the juicy berries we found in the original brew. Both cups were delicious, and this was an excellent example of how dynamic and tasty Bedhatu’s coffee can be.