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Additions to the summer menu of washed coffees from Ethiopia are coming in quickly, and we continue to be impressed by the landed quality and happy to see the return of old friends, like this Worka coffee from Mijane Woresa and his son Daniel Mijane, who own and operate two washing stations in Gedeb. We’re releasing both as limited selections of Crown Jewels this week, as they highlight some really interesting differences in flavor profile despite their proximity.
This lovely coffee hails from Worka-Sakaro, a washing station simply named for its 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 of worik (“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). Contributions are taken from about 400 local smallholder farming families.
The 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. The coffee exhibits a number of really unique characteristics: the standard washed Gedeb flavors like peach and jasmine are here joined by fragrant herbal notes like rosemary, savory tropical fruits like jackfruit and horned melon, and a shortbread-like butteriness. We’re excited to see this Worka-Sakaro Wuri back on the menu.
Classic stuff here from southern Ethiopia: high density, low moisture content and water activity, and generally small screen size. All the hallmarks here of a coffee that will soak up the heat in the roaster and stay delicious during green storage for months to come.
Mr. Mijane has provided three specific cultivars that are being grown, a rare treat for an origin who’s plant types are often summarized generically as “indigenous heirloom varieties,” doing a great disservice to the wide array of genetic variation and significant work steeped in Ethiopia’s forests and mountains.
74110 and 74112 are selections made by the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) in the 1970s. Both selections were made for Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) resistance, and were chosen from the forests of Metu-Bishari in Illubabor, far to the west of the country, and a little to the north of the forests of Keffa. These two selections were both widely distributed throughout the south of Ethiopia after release; becoming some of the most popular in the country. They are both compact trees which bear relatively small-sized fruit and seeds.
Kurume in Gedeo (or Kudhumi in Guji, alternatively known by innumerable cognates depending on who’s doing the spelling) is a landrace, meaning that it is a regionally selected indigenous tree that grew wild or semi-wild and has been “serendipitously” selected for cultivation. It, too, is a short tree with small-sized fruits. Getu Bekele and Tim Hill (whose reference guide I’ve relied on heavily here) suggest that the similar morphology of Kurume to 74110 and 74112 might warrant classifying them as “Kurume type” plants.
We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor.
Using my preferred 6-minute high airflow roast, this Worka-Sakaro was a little late to reach first crack, and the roast ended per the programmed profile just shy of 420F, leaving only about 36 seconds of PCD for this dense, dry coffee. Despite the short development time (and under 10% ratio!) the coffee only offered hints of biscuit-like underdeveloped flavors, and rather showed us its savory side with plenty of herbs and unique tropical fruit notes. I might push this a little hotter and longer for a more traditional production style roast, but as an introduction sample roast for the coffee, it seems to have done the trick.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: RC ckornman 6m afmod dec2018v3
Summer continues to bring delicious gifts for us coffee-folk. This week it was in the form of two startlingly excellent Ethiopian coffees from Gedeb. Being new to Royal, the old favorites the team look forward to year-on-year are new to me. I’m not sorry! Every week is a surprise and, although it may seem as though it could be an overwhelming prospect, palate-wise, it just fills me with gratitude that I can share all of these with you.
This Worka coffee from the Mijane family owned washing station, Worka-Sakaro, was phenomenal. I know this because I wrote that actual word on my cupping sheet. Just wow – the coffee was not only ridiculously easy to roast, it was just as hard to stop slurping from the cupping bowl! From an area that neighbors Yirgacheffe, I was expecting the notes of apricot, jasmine, honeysuckle, and other gorgeous floral top-notes that are representative of this well-known growing region. However, what really stood out were the fresh and fragrant herbaceous notes, as well as comforting and more savory fruit notes.
But before we jump into the cup, let’s sidle up to the roast analytics. If you’ve read my writing thus far, you know I’m not afraid of failure, and fully embrace messing up. I mean, how else can you learn? My mistake at the beginning of this roast wasn’t one resulting from a of lack of knowledge, but, rather, a lack of patience. I was roasting quite a few batches on the Probatino, and it being a little supercharged heatbeast. The drum was getting incredibly warm and retaining far too much thermal energy than I wanted for tackling this Ethiopian gem. I had turned down the gas, but I had also turned down the dial that indicates the height of the flame, as I effected a long idle. Once I returned to the machine, did I turn up the flame height dial? No, dear readers, no I did not. Well, not immediately. I have a lot of equipment checks that I have intuitively put in place and make routinely before, during and after roasting. One of these includes looking at all dials, gauges and indicators before the roast (obviously not done properly in this case), at the turning point, and every few minutes or so during roasting, just to ensure that I have caught any errors. Do checks and balances work? We know they do – I caught my mistake at the turning point phase of the roast, and so, realized that not only had I started the roast at a low heat, I had also started it at a lower flame than usual.
This soft initial heat application and single gas modification from 2 to 2 ½ on the dial was more than enough, in a hot drum to carry this coffee all the way through the roast. I charged the drum at 365 degrees F and watched the coffee drop almost 200 degrees before equalizing. With the flame height dial adjusted immediately, I also turned up the gas. I was not intending to, but there was no way I was going to fail this gorgeous coffee, so I abandoned my initial roast plan on the fly. Even with this lower than usual heat application, stage one was a quick 2 minutes, and stage two managed to top 50% of the roast time. First crack was a little later than I expected, starting to roll at 395 degrees F, but I still managed to eek out a 14% PCD ratio by dropping the coffee a few degrees higher than usual.
The cup profile was outstanding. As mentioned earlier, apricot, jasmine honeysuckle and other florals were met with the fruit flavors of guava, mango, plum and white grape. But wait, there was more – much more! We found jackfruit, surprisingly, but also thyme and rosemary. The acidity was less bergamot and more of a sweet lime. The body was syrupy and juicy. The coffee was lively and exciting when hot and cooled to be a little more mellow and subdued, but still complex and inviting. I would urge you to roast and drink this coffee as soon as possible – if you regret your results, I would be surprised! I’ve roasted this now a couple of ways, and each was different but none were disappointing in the least.
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here.
The Worka-Sakaro Wuri ended up being one of my favorite Crown Jewel coffees of last year, and it sold out very quickly. This year’s Worka-Sakaro Wuri is following along in the same footsteps; an amazing coffee with tons of character that offers incredible flexibility in the roaster and on the cupping table.
I started the roast with a charge temperature of 398.6F, and with 150g of clean green coffee. Since I was aware of the stupendous acidity in this coffee, my goal was to get through drying stage on the quicker side to maintain the more delicate acids. On the flip side, I wanted to make sure sugar development was well represented. My approach was to attempt to attain a similar percentage of time in both the drying phase and Maillard.
Turning point was at a relatively standard time and temperature: 215F and 1:18. No ‘deep-V’ here. I engaged the fan to ‘3’ on the dial a bit later, at 2:15/248F, since this coffee seemed to heating up rather slowly. It is very dense, after all.
Around the 6-minute mark, I noticed that the coffee was beginning to really take off, so I turned the fan up to full at 6:03/360F. This allowed me to achieve a slow roll into first crack – very slow, in fact. This coffee had a very understated beginning of crack, and you’ll need to listen carefully for those first few pops. After 1:15 of development, I dropped this batch right about where I started, 399.7F.
As you can see in the chart, I was able to spend nearly identical amounts of time in the drying phase and Maillard.The results on the cupping table were as follows: Lots of lime, jasmine florals, and a slightly astringent finish. However, all roasts of this coffee (Quest and Probatino included) were the clear favorites this week.
I may have been a bit aggressive with heat application in the drying phase, and I believe that spending a bit more time in Maillard would have improved the finish. Another approach would be to start with a lower charge temperature. Give it a shot yourself – this coffee is sure to be a hit in nearly every preparation method if roasted with intentionality. Drip, espresso, flash-brewed iced coffee… you’ll be blown away, regardless. Corny to say, but this is some of the best coffee on earth.