It really starts to feel like summertime when the high grade dry processed coffees from Ethiopia start to land, and this is one of our absolute favorites. We’ve been anticipating its arrival for months. While a washed coffee from the same producer knocked our socks off last month, for many of us here at Royal it would be the arrival of this natural coffee from Bedhatu Jibicho, with its delicate florality layered on top of ripe strawberry, raspberry, and peach notes, that captured our attention. We couldn’t be more thrilled to share it.
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.
Banko Gotiti is the kebele, or neighborhood, within the Gedeb 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 Banko Gotiti is the last kebele in the east before the border of the Hambela Wamena district of Guji, within Oromia. 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 Bedhatu Jibicho can provide a measure of stability in uncertain times. It’s a testament to the fastidiousness and quality of the work undertaken by Bedhatu Jibicho and her family and network that we even have the coffee in the first place, much less that it tastes so incredibly delicious.
Pretty classy stuff here in terms of green coffee specs. Small screen size, very common for Ethiopian coffees, with a pretty tight 14-16 distribution. High density, low moisture, very stable water activity. Within expectations, but always reassuring, especially when dealing with the kinds of nuanced flavors we’re finding in this nicely processed natural; expect this to retain its flavor nicely under good storage conditions.
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.
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.
Putting this natural coffee through the paces on the Ikawa, I used my 6 minute, 425 profile that lowers the fan speed a bit at the beginning of Maillard and again at first crack. The coffee came out a little thinner than expected, and based on looking at Alex’s notes on the Probatino, it seems like this lot could probably benefit from a little extra post-crack development, compared to similar coffees.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Royal CK 6m425 NatEthiopia V3
Hello, and welcome to Roast Analysis with Alex! Candice is away this week, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to roast some amazing coffees in her stead. First off the bat was this amazing dry-processed Ethiopian coffee from Bedhatu Jibicho that was causing quite a buzz. I had tasted a washed coffee from this producer a few weeks ago, so I was very excited to see what this natural would have in store.
Thanks to meticulous production and processing, the green coffee specs looked super consistent here, so I went into my first roast of this coffee hoping to learn how this coffee would want to behave in the roaster. I started with a slightly lower than usual charge temperature and kept the gas setting low until just after turning point, at which point I cranked it up to power the roast up the proverbial hill. After that it was delightfully smooth sailing until just before first crack. I was planning to lower the gas at first crack, but the crack wouldn’t come, and the coffee wasn’t slowing down at all. This coffee cracked pretty late for our machine, around 396F; I dropped the gas and tried to ride out the roast to get some post crack development without letting the coffee get too dark or roasty. The roast wrapped up at just over 7:05, with 1:05 (15%) post crack development and an end temperature of 403.
I was worried that I had let this coffee get a little too hot, but bright fruit notes still shone through on the cupping table. We found notes of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, and fig, with a delightful jasmine floral note as well. This was a truly delicious coffee, but I think it could pop even more. My second roast of this coffee, which went very similarly to the first but ended about 1 degree cooler, yielded slightly juicier fruit notes on the cupping table and the acidity sparkled just a touch more. All that said, this coffee was a delight to roast and even nicer to drink! Just beware that you may be looking at a slightly later crack, and the coffee is going to want to keep its momentum going as long as it can.
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.
Thanks to our Ethiopia trip in 2017, I always have fond memories of visiting the area this coffee hails from. Year after year this coffee is a delicious option, and it’s always a welcome addition to our summer menu.
In comparison to Alex’s roast above, there were a few similarities and a few differences in the way I roasted this coffee. Much like Alex, I started at a lower charge temperature (377F), and increased heat (from 9A to 10A) application right after turning point (1:18/208F). I also opened the back of the roaster to stymie airflow at turning point, and kept it open until 2:30/250F. I increased fan speed gradually, starting at 3 at 2:38/260F, and working up to full speed at 3:30/302F. I also gradually lowered heat application to 7.5A at 3:00/275F, all the way down to 0A at 4:45/350F.
Here’s where it gets different: Alex experienced crack later, and at a higher temperature. My extended time in drying gave me first crack earlier, and at a lower temperature (6:00/379F). Thankfully, my dropping heat application entirely at 350F had the intended effect of being able to spend plenty of time in post-crack development. Development was slow and steady, and I ended the roast at a low temperature after 23% development time at 7:48/395F. Nearly two minutes of PCD!
Lush lemon, florals, and raspberry jam came through on the cupping table. Just what I like to see with a natural coffee like this one. I would honestly drink this as nearly any preparation, but I would most like to see it as a flash brewed iced coffee for a summer cooler. Of course, the drip coffee was also quite delicious. See Alex’s brew notes below!
I had worked on the green analysis and roasted this coffee earlier this week, so was naturally (pun intended) excited to brew up a few cups for us to taste as well. I chose one of my Probatino roasts and Evan’s Quest to brew on a Kalita. For a little added variety I brewed the two coffees at two different ratios to see what ratio we preferred (this coffee might be coming to the Tasting Room menu soon, so I was getting a head start on dialing it in).
No real need to get into the nitty gritty here, both cups of this coffee were straight up delicious! The 1:16 brew had a slightly lighter, crisper body, but with so many fruit notes in this coffee, there was something delightfully punchy about the 1:15 brew. We tasted jasmine, peach, raspberry, star fruit, kiwi, watermelon, cherry…the list goes on! Richard was practically beside himself, and concluded his tasting notes with “OMG delicious!”
If you enjoy drinking delicious coffee, this is the coffee for you. Brew a pourover, make a french press, pull shots of it as espresso, this coffee will be a delight now matter how you serve it!