Ethiopia Worka-Sakaro Wuri Raised Bed Natural Crown Jewel

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We might have buried the lede a little on this Wuri washing station. Not long ago we released one lot, a very highly rated washed coffee, as a Crown Jewel, but this dry processed coffee from the same station is a little bit bonkers, in the best possible way.

In contrast to many of the other natural Ethiopian coffees we’ve released this season, this Worka is fruity and bold, and maybe a little cartoonish! At lighter roasts some light coriander and vanilla keep pace with the peach and strawberry notes, and as the roast deepens a bubblegum sweetness emerges and the lighter fruits give way to blackberry jam, lavender, and a syrupy cola-like characteristic. The coffee is many things, but subtle is not one of them.

Like it’s companion lot, it 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). For this natural process, they’ve extended the time on drying tables to as long as 3 weeks to ensure quality and consistency.

This natural from the Wuri washing station is quite small in screen size, with over 50% falling through screen 15; an excellent example that proves the size of the bean has little to do with the quality in the cup. Perhaps because of its small size, the coffee also measured at very high density. Otherwise, its moisture figures look normal and quite stable for storage.

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.

Using the newer open setting on our Ikawa Pro v. 2, I’ve been working to adjust our older profiles to make them compatible with the higher fan speed in the recent firmware update. This week, I looked at Jen’s tried and true profile for a slightly extended Maillard reaction, adding 3 degrees of heat to the end temperature and reducing the airflow for the last 60 seconds or so.

The coffee barely reached first crack before the roast completed, but that didn’t stop it from tasting like clean, fresh strawberries and flowers. Granted, the roast was a little on the lighter side and not everyone was on board with the slightly herbal and carrot-cake flavors that underscored the short development time.

Keeping the moderately high percentage of Maillard but extending PCD a full minute or more should reveal some of the bolder fruits and almost-silly sweetness the coffee has to offer — characteristics the lightest of roasts will likely fail to achieve.

View the profile on your mobile device, and download it to your Ikawa library here: 5:30 415 v copy

With the addition of a ET probe that I can log with Artisan, I feel like I’ve really hit my stride with the Quest this week. The added confidence I get from seeing temperatures tracking in real time really helps. This week, I started all my roasts at a 390F charge temperature with the back closed to allow some airflow from the beginning of the roast. I kept all my roasts at 9A throughout the roast cycle and used the fan to modulate temperatures.

The washed version of this coffee that we explored a few weeks ago blew our mind with its incredible florals and gentle fruit notes. This intensity was something we had missed on the cupping table, but it presented itself very readily as brewed coffee. I decided that I wanted this natural coffee to spend more time in the drying phase to really bring out the fruity notes. It worked.

I approached this coffee similarly to the Shakiso Kayon Mountain Natural that we are also releasing this week. Starting with a charge temperature of 390F, 9A power, and the back closed to induce a bit of airflow, I increased fan speed to 3 at 2:20/227F. This coffee was already taking on heat a bit more slowly than I expected. Seeing the decline in rate of rise starting to flatten out, I turned up the fan to 5 at 5:55/330F, again at a slightly lower temperature than my previous roast. This coffee had significant momentum, however, and it kept chugging right along. At 8:00/375F I increased the fan speed to full as I approached first crack.

Crack was solid and steady on this coffee, and I allowed for 1:12 of development time. By ColorTrack numbers, this was my lightest roast of the week, but didn’t taste so on the cupping table. We all noted the extreme fruitiness of this coffee, and of course some of us (yours truly) enjoyed that aspect thoroughly. Florals, dark chocolate, Dr. Pepper, and an almost cartoonish fruitiness made itself known. This incredibly expressive coffee is a fine counterpart to its washed version, and affords lots of room for play.

I love brewing freshly arrived Ethiopian coffee on the Hario V60. There’s something comforting about sipping the results of a well executed V60. It’s possible that this has something to do with my own level of comfort regarding this brew device; I feel like I know where I stand with a V60 recipe. If adjustments need to be made, I usually know how best to proceed.

In this case of this spectacular dry-processed coffee from Worka-Sakaro, my first brew had a very high extraction and TDS reading, but overflowed with juicy fruit flavors and tropical sweetness. Lychee, mango, jackfruit, and watermelon were balanced by violet, black tea, and white wine. It was a spectacular cup, but since the readings showed signs of over extraction, I coarsened my grind a half-notch on the EK 43 and tried again.

This round showcased more developed sugars than the previous brew: baked apple, raisin, and stewed plums hung out in the forefront while the aftertaste featured more delicate flavors like rose water, blueberry, and cedar. The brew time was longer for this brew than the previous one, but TDS went down almost a full tenth of a percent which was my goal. The first brew, over extracted though it may have been, was by far the favorite.