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This is a wild coffee. Our third natural-dry processed Ethiopian selection this season, and the three couldn’t be more distinct. If CJO1301 from Bedhatu Jibicho is floral and pristine, and CJ1305 from Denbi Uddo is ripe and lush, then this ridiculous selection from farmer Adisu Kidane is a boozeberry bomb. Its character is unsubtle.
Adisu Kidane has been growing coffee for years, first working alongside his father on the family farm, then in 2002 turning his inherited land into a specialty farm. His membership at the Halo Bariti Cooperative, under the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, has resulted in selection as an example farm since 2014. The result is that Royal is offered exclusive options to this unique coffee. We’ve seen this system work well for other farmers in the past, like Bedhatu Jibicho, who has been able to create her own export business. Adisu hopes to do the same, saving the additional revenue he earns for his quality premiums.
Halo Bariti is the name of a neighborhood within Gedeb a woreda (district) of the Gedeo Zone. Mostly known by coffee folks for Yirgacheffe town near its center, Gedeo is a funny little appendage that droops south of Sidama, off the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region and into Oromia. Gedeb is Gedeo’s southeastern-most woreda, and Halo Bariti is near its center, just east of Gedeb town. Geography in this part of Ethiopia can be a little confusing, compounded by redrawn districts about a decade ago and the expected fluidity of borders in a largely unincorporated agricultural landscape.
All this is relevant, however, because this region is fertile, booming with coffee, and also at the center of regional ethnic conflicts that predate the borders. Ethiopia’s woredas and regions are largely related to ethno-linguistic groups. The Gedeo people are one such group, as are the Oromo people. The Oromo have long been marginalized in Ethiopia, despite their population making up nearly a third of the total number of Ethiopian citizens. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is Oromo, and his progressive policies — well publicized in Western press — have largely overshadowed the threats of displacement, violence, and famine in Gedeb and Guji.
As coffee buyers, ongoing support of the resilience and work of folks like the Halo Bariti Cooperative and Adisu Kidane can provide a measure of stability in uncertain times. It’s a testament to the fastidiousness and quality of the work undertaken by this network of producers that we even have the coffee in the first place, much less that it tastes so incredibly delicious.
Very small screen size here, even by smaller-than-average Ethiopian standards. Keep an eye on those as development might differ a bit from your other coffees, even from similar origins and processing methods. Otherwise, the coffee is well within the expectations of high physical quality from southern Ethiopia: high density and moderate moisture / water activity are all good indications for shelf-stability.
Here, as with the Ethiopian Crown Jewel selections we’ve highlighted in the past, 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.
Sometimes I feel sorry for other origins – Ethiopian coffees seem to be in a whole different world. This raised bed natural Crown Jewel from Adisu Kidane is superlative. I’m not the only one who thought so. Cupping this roast one of the notes entered into Cropster for posterity was ‘I would drink buckets of this’!! So firstly, let me start by agreeing with this sentiment whole-heartedly! However, be aware that roasting this coffee presents a couple of challenges/things to consider. As this is a natural coffee, I approached it a little differently. I usually try to extend the roast during the second (Maillard) and third (post-crack development) stages of the roast, as I look to encourage the heat-dependent caramelizing reactions, as well as the sugar development post crack, when roasting natural coffees. I find that a soft roast curve, translates to a more balanced and potentially sweeter cup. You always have to be careful, however, that your assumptions don’t dampen the potential of what the coffee can actually do when roasted differently from envisioned.
I roasted this coffee twice, the first one went crazy, and we for it. Thus, it is documented here. The second, a little longer development, was yummy but not altogether different, so I have left it out of this analysis, but fear not. A comparative analysis of an upcoming Crown Jewel will be with you very soon!
I started this bean at lower charge of 356F. I also went for a low initial gas setting, turning the gas up to the maximum I use about a minute after coloring. I wanted to coffee to remain sweet, but retain those all important florals and fruity notes that had been expressed earlier on in the roasting process. I was late in changing my gas setting, and managed to spend a whopping 63% of the roast in the Maillard phase. This was due, in part, to me adding heat a touch late and the fact that this coffee cracked at almost 400 degrees F. That’s significantly later than coffees tend to crack in our Probatino. I was startled at the very short – for my expectations – PCD (post-crack development) time, but the returns were huge!
The floral aromatics of hibiscus and jasmine, were accompanied by big berry notes, grape, lychee, peach and pear. Rose hip and black tea were matched by zingy lemon and a starfruit acidity. I had taken the coffee out at what I had initially thought was a very premature stage due to the color and temperature development happening so quickly. However, the complexity of the acidity, the layered sweetness and the abundance of positive attributes in the flavor profile taught me, again, that coffee will determine what’s tasty, not us! Assumptions belong far away from the roaster! I could see this filling many spots on the menu, but for me? A dessert-like, fruity finish to a summer lunch, or a delicious mid-morning pourover to get me through to said lunch!
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.
Roasting this coffee reminds me that I need to be careful and intentional with my roast, for many reasons. First, this coffee is a natural, and responds differently to heat application than washed coffees will – it requires a gentle touch. Secondly, I had the privilege of meeting Adisu Kidane, and I want to roast his coffee well each and every time so as not to do a disservice to his hard work.
Honing my methodology for working with the Quest M3s, I have come up with a slightly different method that seems to be giving me all the intended results.
I begin with maximum airflow as I charge the drum with coffee. At turning point, I kill the fan and open the back of the roaster to cut airflow entirely. Depending on how well I suspect the coffee to take on heat, I reintroduce airflow when the bean temperature reads from 230F – 260F. From this point, I generally ramp up airflow until I hit full fan speed around 310F.
I then begin ramping down heat application to 7.5A, or if there is enough momentum, cut heat application entirely around 365F – 395F. This last drop in heat application really depends on the coffee: some natural coffees really don’t need much of a push, and other types of coffee need steady heat application for much longer. If you want some deeper reading on this, I would suggest Chris’ article on Density, specifically the ‘Qualitative Significance’ section.
This roast turned out absolutely spectacular, and performed just as I was expecting. I can’t say that all my roasts go exactly as intended, but this one did. Concord grape, fresh raspberry, papaya, and kiwi were just some of the florid cupping notes for this coffee. I would really recommend easing gently into first crack with this coffee, and (at least on the Quest) shooting for an end temperature right around 402.
If you’re looking for a natural coffee with very clear fruit notes, this is the coffee for you. While this style can be divisive, I am resolutely in favor of drinking cup after cup.
I brewed this coffee on Hario V60s hoping to clearly showcase its character and the difference in the two roasts. We were fortunate to have a few of our green coffee customers at The Crown while brewing. It was a real treat to push this special coffee their way. The different roasts clearly showed some pretty different tasting notes – peep the graph above for extraction details.