Fresh crop from Arabica’s homeland has returned to our coffers, and this coffee from Yirgacheffe made us smile a little earlier in the season than usual. It was produced by the Haru Cooperative, part of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. Like many cooperative coffees from Ethiopia, the washing station employs a secondary underwater soak after fermentation, sometimes referred to as “double washing.” Not only does this help remove any leftover pulp on the seeds, it also triggers the seed to begin germinating and it’s speculated this can improve the flavor.
Cooperatives in Ethiopia benefit from the strong organizational structure of their umbrella union organizations, as well as improved access to market information through the ECX, Ethiopia’s Commodity Exchange marketplace that sets the price for both export coffee and cherry.
Yirgacheffe, the town where Haru is located, is a bit of a coffee icon, and oftentimes its name becomes synecdoche for the entire Gedeo region in which it is located. Yirgacheffe roughly translates to “water town” so it’s fitting that the region became famous as one of the first places where fully washed coffees were produced. Yirgacheffe coffees continue to be associated with exceptionally clean profiles exhibiting floral aromas the likes of which are found nowhere else on earth.
Like many high quality washed coffees from Ethiopia, this coffee is dense, dry, and small in size. But above all, this is a very dry coffee. At around 8% moisture, it raised a few eyebrows, for sure. There are, in my opinion, substantial difference between wet coffees with high water activity and dry coffees of similar sensory quality. If overly dry coffees exhibit off flavors due to dryness, rapid drying, or both, it will be evident immediately – this is not a flavor characteristic that emerges over time; the damage is done, and it shows. Dry coffees with good flavors are likely to retain those good flavors; the risk of over-drying is past once the coffee has landed. However, improperly dried coffees at higher moisture and/or water activity may not immediately display resultant off-flavors, but they will almost certainly lose sweetness and character over a shorter period of time. Dry coffees that taste great like this Haru, in my opinion, can be trusted to retain their character for a long time. Their volatility is quite low and their composition stable.
The first Ethiopian to cross our path tastes like summer: lemonade and flowers. This is a very clean and flexible coffee that excels with a fast roast with high heat. The first roast really made the citrus and floral properties in this coffee pop. Our second had a very smooth texture, but slightly subdued in intensity with its extended Maillard stage (+5.2%) compared to the first roast. Both roasts stayed true to the flavor profile of this coffee and were outstanding on the cupping table.
One of the very first Ethiopian arrivals this year is the Yirgacheffe Haru Cooperative Double Washed Crown Jewel. This is a coffee exemplary of its origin. You can expect all the bright and crisp fruits one usually finds in a washed Ethiopian coffee – and consistency as well. Looking at the two roast profiles above, there are some notable differences. The brews resulted in very similar extractions, however.
Dominant notes in the first roast included ripe pear, green apple, cantaloupe, florals, and a milk chocolate finish. The second roast was very comparable, but had a punchier cherry note, and a lemon meringue tartness. What a relief to have a fresh Yirgacheffe!