Late spring and early summer are pretty much the perfect time to sip coffees from the Northern Hemisphere. Central American, Kenyan, and Ethiopian coffees are freshly landed and taste amazing.
Take this selection from Alemu Bukato’s washing station in Kochere, close to Yirgacheffe, in the Gedeo zone of Southern Ethiopia. It has that effortless complexity, the je ne sais quoi that makes coffee from this region of the world so distinctive and unique. Peachy sweetness, splashed with hibiscus-like floral character, accented by mild citrus notes, all afloat on a silky mouthfeel.
The best Ethiopian coffees are blessed with a serendipitous confluence of nature and nurture. Ethiopia is the only major producing country that consumes the equivalent of its export, so it stands to reason that there is a special kind of care taken with the harvest. Elevations are high, climate is generally well-suited for agriculture and coffee in particular in many regions, and the country gave rise to both the natural and fully washed processing methods, along with the traditional use of raised beds for drying.
Nature, too, has blessed coffee in the country. Ethiopia has the world’s richest diversity of Arabica genetics, just as you’d expect from the origin of the species. Coffee grows wild in forests in various locations in the country, and since the 1960s the Jimma Agricultural Research Center has been distributing regional selections, hybrids, and specialty varieties to coffee growers nationwide.
The 2017-18 harvest cycle has been a little more challenging than recent years to find the truly exceptional washed coffees from Ethiopia. We’ve scoured hundreds of samples to select just a few that meet our high standards, and we’re pleased to present this smallholder-produced coffee from Gedeo as one of our early favorites.
Pretty standard fare here for the physicals on this washed Ethiopian coffee. Very dry, low water activity, small screen size and slightly – but not excessively – higher than average density. It’s a solid coffee that should hold up well on the shelf and taste delicious for a long time, without troubling the roaster too much,
Pretty standard fare here for the physicals on this washed Ethiopian coffee. Very dry, low water activity, small screen size and slightly – but not excessively – higher than average density. It’s a solid coffee that should hold up well on the shelf and taste delicious for a long time, without troubling the roaster too much, either. either.
Developing Ikawa profiles can be a lot of fun, especially when creating set points. The roaster is capable of extremely short drying times that are not really transferable to drum roasters. In order to see a curve that would more typically occur in a drum roaster, you will need to set a forced turning point. This will not only set the turning point for you, but will tell the machine how quickly you want the temperature to rise.
Ikawa Roast (1) is my normal light sample roast. It is on the short side, so it works best with smaller screen sizes and higher density coffees. Just for kicks, I decided to remove my forced turning point temperature setting for Ikawa Roast (2). The coffee did turn around at the same time and temperature that I had previously programmed, but it also shot straight up to borderline yellowing in less than a minute. While I detected a small amount of toastiness in the finish, the overall cup profile was pretty similar. 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.
A very solid coffee that is a dream to roast, it almost roasts itself. In a preheated drum, I did not need a very high charge temperature with my minimum gas setting at 2. I delayed applying heat for two minutes which seemed to be the right amount of energy to sail through the Maillard phase. Anticipating an early first crack, I reduced heat just moments before which gave me a nice low rate of change through to the end of the roast. This coffee is as floral as it is juicy and really shines in a light roast style.
I’ve been experimenting 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 feel more confident about being able to extract each grain of ground coffee to the same degree.
Starting with my standard V60 recipe, I ground Alemu Bukato’s coffee at 8 on our EK43 and brewed a 1:16 ratio pour over. The result tasted like a classic Yirgacheffe, a cup full of black tea balanced by delicate florals like lavender and violet. There was also a certain caramel sweetness as well as persimmon, peach, and kiwi.
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 10.25% boulders and 7.5% fines, with the remaining 81.25% of the grounds sitting between the two filters. The two screen sizes I used were faily far apart – Kruve suggests using the 400 and 900μm 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.
This sifted brew was absolutely incredible. Packed with rose, peach nectar, honeydew melon, black currant, an tangerine, it was a truly phenomenal cup. Balanced, structured, and sweet, I could have kept drinking this all day.