Ethiopia Banti Balo Gelgelu Edema Raised Bed Natural Crown Jewel

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Intro by Chris Kornman with Haileyesus Andualem

I’ll be honest, I shook my head a little when I saw Ethiopian coffees landing in December; new harvest is beginning already. It seemed late.

But then we cupped this super juicy natural coffee from veteran coffee producer Gelgelu Edema and we couldn’t help but squeeze one more Ethiopian coffee into the Crown Jewel menu for 2019. Better late than never, I suppose.

Gelgelu Edema Birisho is 78 years old, and grew up with no formal education, though he proudly boasts that of his eleven children one has their post-graduate MBA, six more completed their undergraduate degrees, and the youngest daughter was accepted and will be attending university in the coming year. Along with his wife Elfinesh Babayo, their son Mengistu (an agronomist) and Tsegaye (the MBA grad), Mr. Gelgelu has been growing coffee for an incredible 58 years.

I checked in with our man in Addis, Haileysus Andualem, who reached out to get some details about Gelgelu Edema and his family for me. And did he deliver! I basically have directions to Gelgelu’s farm, so if you find yourself in Gedeo zone (south of Sidama), make your way south from Yirgacheffe to Gedeb town and head east to find the Worka Sakaro kebele (it’s about halfway between Gedeb and Banko Gotiti). From there, adjacent to Halo Beriti, move towards the Worka river and look for the “Banti” — Haile tells me this is Balo’s (the owner) “open field in between the farm which is kept as grazing land.” From there, look for the Haro Adi Zuriya — a red clay damp area. You’ll be on Gelgelu’s 24-hectare plot. Please tell him I said hello, and that I really like his coffee quite a lot.

Gelgelu’s seen a lot in his half-century-plus career as a coffee grower. He started growing coffee under Haile Selasie’s empire, and coffee value was low, so he sold to Arabian traders directly, bypassing the Addis auctions. In the 70s and 80s during the Derg regime, coffee production was nationalized and Gelgelu was obligated to sell the Coffee Board. After the downfall of Ethiopian communism and the rise of cooperatives, Gelgelu joined the Worka coop (part of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union). In 2012, Royal coffee engaged with the YCFCU in a one-of-a-kind private agreement to select “model” farmers and separate their coffees out before being regionally blended at the ECX, and Gelgelu was one of the very first such selections. He lent his support to others to join the program as well, offering advice and expertise on how to reap the rewards of their potential.

We were thrilled with the first cupping, ripe berry, peach, guava, red grape, and cherry cola flavors lept from the cup. A chocolate-mousse-like viscosity held the complexity of flavor together with grace, and a really elegant finish of vanilla and light jasmine offer the taster the reminder that, yes, this coffee is a prime example of an experienced and attentive producer, working with exceptional cultivars in prime conditions to realize exceptional quality. It’s the kind of coffee that can encapsulate why we love selections from southern Ethiopia.


Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

Classic Ethiopia physical specs here: small screen size (over 90% 16 and under) with very high density and low moisture numbers. Gelgelu Edema has provided us with his specific varieties! What follows is a summary gleaned from the work undertaken by Getu Bekele and Tim Hill in A Reference Guide to Ethiopian Coffee Varieties.

  • Kurume (“Kudhume” in Guji) is a well known landrace (that is a wild tree selected “traditionally” for cultivation by farmers, not researchers) in the Gedeo and Guji areas; it is compact with small fruits, and good yields.
  • Wolisho (or “Walichu” in Guji) is the name of a native tree that isn’t coffee, but looks like coffee – or vice versa – and the name was co-opted for this variety. At any rate, like Kurume, Wolisho is also a landrace and common in Gedeo and Guji, but is tall, open, and bears large fruits with inconsistent year-to-year yields.
  • 74110 & 74112 are selections made from wild populations due to their resistance to Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) in 1974 by the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) and approved for release in 1979. Both are widely popular and show morphological similarities to Kurume type plants: compact in stature with small cherry size.


Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman

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, and were recalibrated in September 2019.

Ongoing work on old Ikawa profiles lands us on a solid profile that seems to work well for high density natural coffees, like this Ethiopia from Gelgelu Edema. Undulating airflow and a big break in the rate of rise at first crack produce an expressive and sweet coffee, if a little thin. First crack happened a little later than expected, though the coffee’s exceptional quality overshadowed any potentially underdeveloped notes, despite its proximity to more developed roasts on the same cupping table.

We noted raspberry and strawberry, with rose and jasmine floral notes on prominent display. Stone fruits like apricots, peach, and lemony citrus played supporting roles. A solid sample-roast style execution on the Ikawa for this coffee.

You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:

Roast 1: Crown 6m Nat Eth ck1.4


Roast Analysis by Candice Madison

“Better late than never” has never felt apter an adage as when we cupped this delightful, later than usual arrival from Gelgelu Edema Birisho. As per usual, the team is spoilt rotten with the coffees sent our way for Crown Jewel Analysis, and Banti Balo is not the exception that proves this rule. It just rules!

Years of experience, attention to detail and incredible raw materials (as Chris noted, these are “exceptional cultivars in prime conditions”) lead to spectacular results. Having cupped this arrival and tasting all that it had to offer – fruits, lively acidity, syrupy sweet sugars – I headed to the Diedrich to trial this coffee for production.

As this coffee showed all the hallmark green coffee metrics of classic Ethiopia landraces as well as two JARC-selected varieties, I chose to approach the roast as I would usually. The small bean size coupled with high density and low moisture levels led me to charge the drum at 360F for this 4lb load. I kept the gas at a minimum of 2 and the air flowing 100% through the cooling tray. Just after the turning point, I increased the gas to 5 (the maximum gas I use on this machine), in order to give as much energy to the coffee early on, and myself the ability to see how the coffee reacted to heat, and still have time to make any adjustments. However, this was the right approach and the roast proceeded steadily.

As I wanted to maintain this pace, I decided to start stepping down off of the gas just before the coloring stage began. The coffee began its Maillard stage earlier than expected, noticeably coloring at 280F, and continued to need little help rising through the roast. Another gas change before first crack allowed the coffee the space to produce a lot of energy as it cracked, without running away from me — and this coffee will run!

The crack, at 381F, was very soft and stable, rolling evenly throughout the process. I had a specific end temperature in mind. So I cut the gas at 398F and 406F, a little higher than I usually end these roasts, but I knew what I was looking for and this coffee delivered! So sweet and smooth, packed full of flavors – black cherry, peach, black tea, dark chocolate, dried berries – that were complemented by the round sweetness of vanilla, brown sugar and hard candy. The lemon and lime acidity finished off the experience with a little zip. And although the body was a little lacking in heft, it was smooth and silky. I would gladly sip this as a batch brew or pour over option as a cheeky dessert to finish a great meal, or as an accompaniment to my morning pastry.


Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman

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 and my updated post here.

We’ve carried Gelgelu Edema’s coffee for about 6 years now, and one thing that tells me is that our customers have enjoyed it for at least 5 years, if not more. His lots have consistently been some of the last to come in, but are also consistently delicious. Looking back to 2013, I see notes of clean dried fruit with his coffee being suggested as a single origin offering. This year’s crop received even more effusive notes of milk chocolate, dried blueberry, and cream on our arrivals table.

This coffee was a pleasure to roast, too. No surprises. That being said, I did expect this coffee to need less heat application towards the end of the roast, and I also expected an abundance of chaff. I was not disappointed!

I started my roast at about 386F with full airflow, and waited until just before turning point to dial it down to ‘0’. This coffee turned around quickly, and I started airflow back up again at 255F / 2:30 by increasing to ‘3’ on the dial. At 355 / 6:20 the coffee was really cooking, so I increased the fan speed to maximum, and dropped heat application to 7.5A at first crack (386F / 8:00). The coffee did not slow down! I allowed this coffee to develop to the highest temperature I was comfortable with, which was 405F. I only achieved 11% of the roast time in post crack development, but the proof is in the pudding. So we moved on to the cupping table.

We tasted plenty of black tea, blackberry, and blueberry in this coffee. Pleasantly clean on the finish, this roast tended toward sugar browning notes and limey acidity, with a touch of gentle florality. In comparison, the Ikawa roast of this coffee garnered many very pleasant bright fruit notes, but lacked a little body.

I may suggest keeping airflow high with this coffee, and replicating what Chris accomplished with the Ikawa roast: keeping the rate of rise very low after first crack. Controlling the tendency of this natural coffee to race after first crack is the name of the game!


Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor

New coffees from Ethiopia in December is kinda like Christmas in July, in December: unexpected but a pleasant surprise! I loved this coffee the first time I tasted it on the cupping table, and gleefully kept track of it as it moved through the Crown Jewel pipeline, until it was finally time for brew analysis. I may have even done a few “trial runs” for this brew analysis in the days leading up to it, just to have an excuse to keep drinking this coffee.

Since this will be my last brew analysis for 2019 (whoa), I decided to bring back a popular little experiment from earlier this year: variations on brew temperature during brewing. I kept most of the factors for these brews pretty standard (1:16 ratio, grind size a hair tighter than usual) but brewed with two drastically different brew temperatures. For the first brew, I used 205 degree water, and for the second, 180 degree water! That’s obviously a pretty wild difference between the two, but sometimes it’s more fun to taste drastic changes in brews, as opposed to subtle changes.

Both brews were a little slower than I was expecting, but I wasn’t concerned because A) I had the grind on 7.5, which is definitely on the finer side of things and B) I have found that natural process coffees often take slightly longer to draw down towards the end of the brew. Both coffees were delicious! But we did get some drastically different tasting notes and overall impressions. The first cup (brewed with 205 degree water) had a livlier acidity and a slightly heavier sweetness, with notes of blackberry, orange, bergamot, cooked berries, and nougat. The finish was the tiniest bit drying (no surprise, when I saw that the extraction was a whopping 25.70%), but I think backing off the grind just a little bit (maybe to 8 instead of 7.5) could have quickly cleaned that up.

The second cup (brewed with 180 degree water) was even better! We tasted strawberry, lemon, blueberry, marmalade, and dark chocolate, with an exquisite floral finish that went on for days and a rich syrupy body.  Even despite how much we loved this coffee on the cupping table, we were even more impressed after trying it as brewed coffee! On top of that, it’s worth noting how well this coffee stood up to very high extraction rates (25.70 and 23.43 respectively) without becoming dry, bitter and unpalatable! So if you need one more coffee from Ethiopia to tide you over until the next crop, don’t sleep on this coffee!

Coffee Background

Ethiopia Banti Balo Gelgelu Edemi Raised Bed Natural Crown Jewel is produced by Gelgelu Edema and processed as a separate lot at the Worka Cooperative where Gelgelu Ademi is a member. The Worka cooperative is located in the southern district of Gedeb in the Gedeo Zone within the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia. Gelgelu Edema is part of the single producer project developed jointly between the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) and Royal Coffee. The project was initiated in 2012 with a handful of ‘Model’ producers from cooperatives organized under the YCFCU umbrella who have been willing to work with a rigorous set of processing standards, regular farm visits from the Royal team, and higher cup qualifications. In exchange, producers earn higher quality premiums based on the sale of their individual lots. The popularity of the single producer project has led to increased participation and an opportunity to showcase more coffee from the growing numbers of small and talented producers who continue to work in the cooperative system.