Intro by Mayra Orellana-Powell
Bedhatu Jibicho is like family here at Royal and her family’s journey in coffee is emblematic of the recent changes in the Ethiopian export rules, which have opened new opportunities to develop relationships with vertically integrated suppliers.
Roba and Family Coffee, established by Bedhatu’s sons, is one example of a newly formed export company now directly offering lots from the Gedeb district including their mother’s coffee.
While the Roba family has expanded their reach to support other producers, we are always pleased to have an offering from Bedhatu’s 84-acre farm, which she has personally managed for over 50 years without the use of chemical inputs. Larger than most farms in the area, Bedhatu employees 20 year-round workers and another 130 seasonal workers for the harvest who are primarily women.
For this natural processed coffee, cherries are carefully hand sorted and floated to separate out less dense and damaged coffee, and then placed on raised beds where it is hand sorted again and dried over a period of 20 days. The cherries are often covered during the afternoons to prevent harsh drying in the intense sun.
As a family owned business, emphasis on social impact in the communities where they source coffee is taking shape. The Roba family has invested in more localized cherry collection sites to reduce the transportation cost for other producers. They have also contributed to road construction projects that make travel a bit easier for everyone.
Once again, Bedhatu Jibicho’s coffee has come through with exceptional execution. Ripe blackberries burst onto the palate after unmistakable lavender and ripe raspberry aromas rise from the grounds. The coffee is aromatic and effervescent, Meyer lemon and apricot are highlighted on the top end, cantaloupe and purple grape round out the finish, and lingering florality reminds you of the aromatics well after the cup is finished. It’s an incredible experience, made all the more enjoyable by virtue of the longstanding relationship with the Roba family.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This natural-processed coffee from Ethiopia comes to us with somewhat below average density and moisture content, and below average water activity. As is typical for a high quality Ethiopian coffee like this one, it is well sorted into a small screen size, with the majority of the coffee clustered into sizes 14 through 16, with small amounts outside of that. Its low density may lead to it getting scorched on high heat, so consider a gentler approach in the roast.
The cultivars represented here are referred to as “indigenous landraces,” which simply refers to the many hybrids and selected cultivars available in Ethiopia. For those curious, critical genetic banks of arabica are kept at the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) and two fields maintained by the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI), and Getu Bekele and Timothy Hill’s book Ethiopian Coffee Varieties does an excellent job documenting Ethiopia’s cultivars.
Ikawa Analysis by Alex Taylor
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on a brand new Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
Even with all the gems that Ethiopia and Kenya season brings, Bedhatu Jibicho’s coffees always stand out, and I am always excited to taste what this year’s offerings bring. Plus, we featured the natural lot in the tasting room last year, so this coffee had me particularly excited! It’s been a minute since I’ve done any roasting on the Ikawa, so I didn’t try anything too wild and experimental this week. Fortunately for me, Chris has fine tuned a handful of profiles over the course of many many roasts, so all I really had to do was drop the coffee in and wait (both a luxury and somewhat unsettling, as someone who has only manually roasted before).
Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of how this coffee roasted, which I believe to be a good thing! As with CJO1378 there was some variation in the first crack temperature, but I will admit that it’s entirely possible that there could have been user error. Being a little less familiar with Ikawa roasting, I may have been less consistent with determining what counts as first crack. I don’t think that was the case, but it’s certainly possible. No cause for concern though, as all three roasts tasted excellent!
On the cupping table, the big star was definitely a prominent blueberry note that really popped in all three roasts. Our standard sample roast profile (the shortest roast, at 6:00) had a nice jammy character, with big, sweet notes of blueberry, fig, and vanilla. The dry aroma of this coffee immediately evoked memories of eating Fig Newtons! The longest roast (7:00, our low airflow profile) was a little less intense and in-your-face, but perhaps a touch more complex. I found similar blueberry and fig notes, but with the addition of dried date, raspberry, and lemongrass. This cup struck me as a bit odd, yet still delicious; I wasn’t expecting there to be more fruity notes, but at lower intensity.
My favorite of the three roasts however was definitively our “Maillard +30” profile, which at 6:30 turned out to be the proper Goldilocks roast for this coffee: not too fast, not too slow. The fruity acidity up front was bright and intense with notes of blueberry, juicy peach, and something tropical that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but really enjoyed! As I kept sipping, I found notes of cinnamon, brown sugar, and honey (I immediately thought “Graham Cracker”, and then decided to break it down a bit more), followed by a luscious milk chocolate finish that went on for days! As the cup cooled, it maintained its clarity and balance better than the other two roasts as well, and eventually I found myself simply standing over this cup sipping more and more, just for the heck of it! Bedhatu Jibicho, you’ve done it again! If 2020 has you feeling down, this is the coffee you should start your day with.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Roast 3: Crown 7m SR Low AF
Probatino Analysis by Chris Kornman
Just for fun (and because of a little communication confusion) Alex Taylor and I switched spots this week, which gave him the opportunity to rock the new Ikawa V3, and gave me the chance to roast on the Probatino. I’ll admit that the machine is not my favorite in our arsenal; I find it has a tendency to slightly scorch even the densest of coffee and often tastes a little toasty even at light roast levels. Despite this, I do appreciate how responsive it can be to small gas adjustments. It’s an agile machine and one that will roast quickly, even if the drum is stuffed to capacity.
I’d cupped a sample roast of this, Bedhatu Jibicho’s natural coffee, well in advance of roasting on the Probatino, fortunately, and had a minimum idea of what to expect. Yet with just 300g of green to roast, I’d only have one shot at a decent production-style profile, so I had to make it count.
I elected to be a little timid with the heat, ramping up the gas at smaller increments and slightly later than the profile design in order to extend Maillard reactions a little. No problems there, the roaster and coffee adjusted quickly to two steps up in heat; this coffee apparently likes to be roasted.
As the delta continued to decline as color developed, and knowing that Evan’s Behmor roast had come out on the slightly dark and toasty side, I began thinking about working towards a light roast, attempting to keep my temperature and heat delta as low as possible without baking as I approached first crack. I began to back off well in advance, hoping to avoid any sudden movements as caramelization began.
There was a moment around the 5 minute mark, when I’d dropped to my idle gas setting, that I started to panic a little. Had I over-anticipated? Was the coffee stalling? I watched Cropster’s predictive ROR and it was a little terrifying… the coffee was going to bake. I kept my eye on the actual temperature change in the machine, and decided to let it run its course, however, feeling increasingly confident this dense, small size bean was still absorbing heat as the beans began to shift from orange to brown.
The coffee was stealthy, offering a number of pretty subtle pops that were difficult to hear, further heightening my anxiety as first crack temperature came and went… but eventually it started rolling. I kept my eye on color development and time at this point, basically ignoring temperature (as I’d already dropped to idle gas setting) and looked for the cues on the surface of the beans — even color development and the first hints of a glossy sheen as the oils rose to the surface — and opened the door at just over a minute of development after crack began. A few pops continued in the tray as the coffee cooled.
On the cupping table, the fragrance of this roast was unbelievable: fruity, tropical, floral, and excessive. Having potentially over-promised a little aromatically speaking, the cup was gentle and still floral with a butterscotch-like sweetness and soft apricot and melon filling in the spaces between the more classic blackberry and pomegranate flavors. An effortlessly delightful coffee, I found it both compelling to analyze and easy to drink, a rare example of balance and poise that can be rewarding for nearly any style of consumption.
It is a complex bean, and one that I expect will match roasts in equal parts with steadfast resilience in its inherent character and malleability to the touch of the operator. You’ll likely find infinite combinations here, and I expect you’ll have a hard time choosing one that isn’t delicious.
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Natural coffees can sometimes give me a run for my money on the Behmor, due to their propensity to race through post-crack development. But since I have been roasting a good many naturals lately, I knew that I’d need to make my development time very brief. I still wanted to get through Maillard stage in a timely manner, so I kept heat on all the way through.
The 225g of coffee I placed in the roaster took some time to get to crack, partially due to my opening the door of the roaster at 10:40 to abate some smoke. Natural coffees like this also give off a fair amount of chaff, which can lead to smokiness. Crack came on slowly, and with a few false starts. Keep your ear to the rail on this one. True crack happened at 11:30 – I usually deem it the start of first crack when I hear 3 or 4 consecutive pops within 3 seconds. I finished this roast by hitting the COOL button at 12:10, after just 40 seconds of development time.
This coffee generates quite a bit of chaff when you roast. In fact, I wanted to know exactly how much chaff I generated, so I swept up all the bits and weighed them in a frenzy. The final result was nearly 4g of chaff! If I figured this back into my roast loss percentage, I went from a heavy loss of 14.5% to just 12.6%. Another thing to consider when measuring roast loss by weight is that at least the moisture content of the coffee will be lost – in this case, that number is 10.3%. So if you come out with numbers that you see more often in a dark roast coffee, don’t fret.
On the cupping table, blueberry pie came through pretty clearly to me. My partner had just made a pluot and blueberry gallette, and this coffee was probably the best pairing I could have hoped for. With a deep chocolaty finish, this cup just kept giving. If you’re looking for fruit, look no further. With my roast, I got a lot of cooked fruit notes, but on a more powerful roaster that can push through drying phase a bit more quickly and mellow out until crack, you’re going to find bright citrusy acidity and some delicious nuance. Fruit fans, your month is here!
Brew Analysis by Elise Becker
I had the pleasure of brewing natural processed Bedhatu Jibicho a great deal last season. It performed deliciously on the brew bar at The Crown, and was a special favorite. As such, I had extremely high expectations for this coffee, and have been eager to brew and drink the current crop.
As it was fun and informative the last time I brewed a Crown Jewel for analysis, I decided to repeat my method of doing three side-by-side pour-overs and comparing flavors across brewers. I again chose to use the Beehouse, Fellow Stagg, and Phoenix C70 brewers. I was confident that no matter what brewer I used, this natural processed coffee was going to be an absolute banger. I set our EK43S to 7.5, set our Fellow Stagg Kettles to 205F, and used a proven classic 1:16 ratio.
The Stagg brew finished first, with the brew running for 2:27. This one was like drinking juice, straight up. So much orange, strawberry, red grape, and grapefruit popping! It had a faint chocolateyness in the finish, but was otherwise a straight up fruit cocktail.
For the Beehouse, I did have to adjust the filter after blooming, as it bunched up a bit oddly. Couldn’t tell from the cup that there was any fidgeting involved, though. The cup had a pleasant balance of Meyer lemon and strawberry, with a hint of red currant and a dark chocolate finish.
The Phoenix C70 was the slowest brew, clocking in at 2:58. This brew was super delish, with a little less berry and a lot more lighter fruits. Apricot, pluot, and tangerine came through clearly, with a sparkle of lemon-lime, watermelon candy, and a creamy textural sensation of creme-brulee.
I had set a high bar for this coffee, and it did not disappoint! What a fantastically tasty coffee! Any way you brew it, if you want a coffee loaded with fruitiness that manages to taste like absolute candy, this is the one. Delectable!