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Intro

Bedhatu Jibicho has become a standard-bearer in Royal’s menu. Not only is the octogenarian Ethiopian among the most experienced coffee farmers we work with, she’s also evolved from cooperative member to exporter, taking full advantage of recently ratified changes to the ECX allowing for improved direct trade.

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, starting last season, Bedhatu and her neighbors have banded together, with support from her son Tesfaye Roba, using the premiums they’ve received to establish a farmer-owned export company to sell us their coffee independently.

And we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. If last week’s Homacho Waeno was a soft, sweet, and delicate floral coffee, this coffee from Bedhatu Jibicho and neighbors in the Banko Gotiti kebele of eastern Gedeo is lush, full, and deep with notes of fresh strawberries, black plum, and rosemary. It’s a big, complex coffee with a lot to offer, and it responds really well to multiple roast levels, giving the roaster a lot of options when it comes to playing with its potential flavor profile.

We’re juiced to have this coffee back on the menu. With any luck, a pending shipment of natural coffee from Bedhatu Jibicho will join this resounding washed coffee on the Crown Jewel menu in the weeks to come.

green

In line with expectations from southern Ethiopian washed coffees, this selection from Bedhatu Jibicho is characteristically high in density, low in moisture and water activity, and relatively small and widely distributed in screen size.

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 Getu Bekele and Tim Hill. Established in the 1960s, the Jimma Agricultural Research Center was instrumental in selecting, breeding, and distributing scores of cultivars throughout the country, and the JARC, along with the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute maintain two of the world’s most important and extensive gene banks for arabica. Their distributed cultivars have included region-specific selections, specialty cultivars developed for optimal flavors, and hybrids engineered for disease resistance.

Thus, I’ve begun to shy away from the term “heirloom” in most cases, as it does a disservice to the wide array of genetic variation and significant work steeped in Ethiopia’s forests and mountains. Many so-called “indigenous heirloom varieties” are in fact hybrids or selected cultivars. That being said, there’s probably a sense in which many Ethiopian cultivars have indeed been passed down generationally through the hands of small farmers, preserving locally unique genetic material. Most plant biologists prefer to use the term “landrace” to describe these types of local selections, born of circumstance or necessity.

taste

Ikawa

Putting coffees through the paces on the Ikawa can get a bit routine once you’ve dialed in a profile. That’s why I asked Ruthie Knudsen, Crown barista and lab assistant for the day, to help me mix it up. Ruthie is a rare talent and a joy to work with: her attention to detail and passion for the craft means that her brief roasting training sessions here have sunk in, and her grasp of roast theory and application is excellent. She’s also a notorious dark roast connoisseur and unafraid of adding dairy to coffee. So it came as little surprise what happened next.

For the first roast, I asked Ruthie to log my standard light roast high airflow profile designed with washed African coffees specifically in mind. After describing the way that the Ikawa’s airflow and heating element worked, Ruthie programmed her own profile, inspired by an earlier comment Royal Coffee co-founder Bob Fulmer made about dark roasting Ethiopian coffees for enjoying as affogatos. That roast is called “Ruthie’s Ice Cream.”

Roast one, on the lighter side, still showed a lot of depth and highlighted the coffee’s complexity and juicy flavors, including lots of floral notes and plenty of ripe berries. Ruthie’s Ice Cream, on the other hand, was two minutes longer and had a steeper post-crack rate of rise. Dark chocolate was the dominant note, followed by a rush of deep fruit flavors and, surprisingly, a ton of sweetness. Much of the floral character was lost in this darker roast but what remained was a buttery, viscous coffee with plenty of unique flavors, including some herbs and spices, still nicely in tact. Pair with ice cream for best results.

You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: RC ckornman 6m afmod dec2018v3
Roast 2: Ruthie’s Ice Cream

Probatino

When Bedhatu’s coffee landed on the cupping table, my first thought as I dove into the cup, was it was akin to being slapped in the face by a technicolor rainbow! Ethiopian coffees are, year on year, the gift that keeps on giving, and this example from Banko Gotiti is no exception. A full, bright, luxurious coffee such as this deserves to be tasted, in all of its many iterations. I had to give Bedhatu’s coffee the comparative roast treatment, if only to do justice to my greedy mind, and mouth! Taking into account the sizable bouquet of floral and fruit notes, my first roast was to eke out as much from these flavors as possible. I chose to achieve this by starting my 400g charge at the maximum gas output I use on the Probatino at The Crown, and step gently down on the gas to the minimum gas output used here. In layman’s terms, I started at 3 and incrementally went down to 2!

Diving right in, I started the first roast 10 degrees F higher than the second. I knew that I wanted to force as many of the enzymatic reactions I could to take place during the second half of the first stage of the roast, right up to the coloring stage – about 1 min 30 seconds after the turning point. I believe that I marked the color stage slightly later (by 10 seconds) than first seeing it, so it seems as though I turned the gas down immediately, but in truth it was about 15 seconds later that I decided to ease back on the gas, and watch how the coffee proceeded through the maillard stage of the roast. Well, this coffee likes the heat, because, much like a quarterback with a football, it took its chance, and ran right up the field! Not my proudest moment to have a coffee crack at 5 minutes in the drum, but managing to turn the ‘flame’ (vs the ‘number’) dial down half way, I was able to eek out a respectable 19% PCD.

As ever, the cup decides whether or not a roast failed, and cupping this coffee indicated that this faster, less than ‘perfect’ roast was a winner! Multiple cuppers noted clear flavors of peach, apricot and jasmine honeysuckle, as well as, grape, hints of raspberry, rose and tropical fruit, I’d say I had achieved what I set out to do. The cup also gave up delicious butter cookie, vanilla, maple syrup, rooibos, nougat and chocolate flavors. Complex, clean, bright citrus acidity crammed its way into the cup too. The more the merrier! This roast would definitely excel as a pour over, but I can imagine it being equally delicious as a batch brew also. A delicate & flavorful afternoon pick me up, if you will.

And as a compliment to your afternoon filter, I’m sure the second roast of this coffee would provide an excellent base for a morning espresso or luxurious latte. After all, one of the taste notes recorded by our cuppers was ‘lush’! Starting slow and steady, I charged the drum at 368 degrees F with 400g again, using a minimum amount of heat with the gas at 2. The coffee spent a little longer, around 20 seconds, in the dehydrating and enzymatic phase (or stage one) of the roast. But, as I had started from a reduced heat input, even though I turned the gas up to 3 at first sight of the color change, I was able to extend the Maillard phase for an additional 45 seconds. The coffee cracked at about the same temperature (396 degrees F), but did so a full minute later than the first roast. After turning the heat down to 2, immediately upon hearing first crack rolling, the coffee threatened to stall, but didn’t and achieved a post crack development ratio of 15% (just over a minute). Because of the time spent in the preceding stages of the roast, both coffees had a PCD of about 1 minute, but the ratio was 19% PCD for the first roast, as I had spent exactly the same percentage of time (4%) less in stage 2 during that roast.

That simple gas change recipe, accompanied by the lower charge temperature (both of the roasts finished at about 403 degrees F) delivered dividends indeed. The florality of jasmine and honeysuckle remained, but was now joined by lavender, hibiscus, and lemongrass. With fruit notes of apricot, plum, blackberry jam, mandarin orange, white peach, and raspberry, in addition to the sparkling acidity of lemon and lime our cups runneth over! The coffee was notably more viscous and jammy but still cooled as a structured and balanced cup. I hope to see and taste different roasts of this coffee around the Bay Area and beyond – it’s a delight, and has so much to give, that I can imagine the same satisfaction from multiple roast profiles. I’m excited for you to see what you may bring to this gorgeous coffee too.

Brew

Believe it or not, I absolutely LOVE washed coffees from Ethiopia! (Real original, I know.) Brimming with florality and tropical fruit with a crisp, delicate body, these are the coffees I would bring to a desert island if I could only choose one style. On a more practical note, one of my favorite things about high quality washed coffees from Ethiopia is that they taste delicious pretty much no matter how you brew them! With that in mind, I tried not to overthink my approach to these brews. I chose the Saint Anthony Industries Phoenix c70 as my dripper, weighed out a 1 to 16:67 ratio (18g:300g), and hit the ground running. I used slightly smaller pulse pours than I typically do, hoping to keep the water flowing through the coffee bed as fresh and clean and hot as possible. My first brew (Candice’s first roast) finished in just over 4 minutes; on the second brew (Candice’s second roast) the filter choked a tiny bit, and the brew took about 5 minutes.

Before I even got the mug all the way to my lips, I knew I was in for a treat. Lavender, tropical fruit, lime, and bergamot danced in the cup. The coffee had an incredibly soft, light, creamy body, with a finish that went on for days. Our friend Demart from Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee was lucky enough to be in the tasting room for this brew and when prompted for tasting notes replied, “good vibes”. Enough said.

Despite the slight filter choke towards the end of the brew, the second cup was stunningly delicious as well. Lime juice, blackberry, pineapple, and brown sugar were all packed into the front end of the cup, with dark chocolate and caramel rounding out the finish. I did detect the slightest bit of dryness on the finish, most likely from the elongated brew time, so this coffee isn’t actually perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. It was a busy day at The Crown, so there weren’t too many tasters on hand when I brewed these coffees, but I was more than happy to drink the leftovers on my own!

Origin Information

Grower
Bedhatu Jibicho and neighboring independent farmers.
Variety
Indigenous landraces and selections
Region
Banko Gotiti Kebele, Gedeb District, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
Harvest
October - December
Altitude
1800 – 1900 masl
Soil
Vertisol
Process
Fully washed after pulping and fermenting, then soaked in clean water overnight before drying on raised beds in the sun.
Certifications

Background Details

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 1 Bedhatu Jibicho GrainPro Crown Jewel is produced by Bedhatu Jibicho. Bedhatu was born and raised in Worka where her farm is also located. She started working in coffee in the 1960s when the government gave land to her husband. Bedhatu’s takes great pride in the fact that she has managed the farm operations for over 50 years, even before her husband passed away in 1991. As Bedhatu is now over 80 years old, her adult children have started to become more involved in continuing her rich tradition of coffee production. The family plans to use the premiums from coffee sales to expand production and start an export company.