Ethiopia is the homeland of Coffea arabica, so it's no surprise that to this day some of the most distinctive coffees you'll taste are Ethiopian single-origins. Countless heirloom varieties thrive in the East African nation, where high altitude and varying micro-climates provide ideal growing conditions for coffee.
Ethiopian coffees are often defined by berry-like or tropical fruit notes, citrus acidity, and floral tones. They're prized as single-origins, but also play an essential role in many blends, providing lively top notes and sweetness to balance the nuttiness of a Brazilian coffee, for instance, or the deep body of a wet-hulled Sumatra.
Most coffee in Ethiopia is grown by smallholder farmers working a few hectares of farmland. They typically bring their harvest to cooperatively-owned washing stations for processing—converting the fresh-picked coffee fruit into green coffee beans that are ready for export.
Natural process Ethiopian coffees (dried fully intact before the inner bean is removed) are highly sought after for their intense berry aroma and flavor. Washed Ethiopians (skin and mucilage removed prior to drying) tend to reveal more floral and tea-like notes.
We're currently offering three Ethiopian single-origins, each a unique expression of what the region has to offer:
Of our current offerings, Mulish most closely resembles the classic Ethiopia Natural flavor profile: fresh fruit aromas and flavors, with floral notes throughout. This particular coffee is more complex than most, with a chardonnay note in the cup and juniper in the finish.
Mulish washing station is a fairly new processing plant, established in 2014 in Ethiopia's famed Guji zone. In the surrounding hills and mountains of Danbi Uddo, a sub-district of the Shakiso Woreda, approximately 850 smallholders own two to five hectares and deliver their harvests to Mulish washing station.
The station is prepared to process more than 280 tons of green coffee during harvest. Daily operations are smooth because of sufficient materials to process the bulk of the harvest: an Agarde Pulper, flotation tanks, and raised beds. Washed coffees are fermented for 36 to 48 hours and dried for a maximum of 12 days. Naturals are laid to dry for 15 to 18 days (pictured above).
Our second naturally-processed selection is earthier, with a lightly spiced/herbal aspect. Rather than fresh fruit, we found aromas and flavors of berry jam in the cup, with a velvety body featuring baking spice and lemongrass notes and Swiss chocolate aftertaste.
This offering is unique in that it comes from a single farm in northwestern Ethiopia's Limu zone, rather than a co-op, as is the norm. Yidnekachew Dabessa and his brother Mesfin became large-scale coffee farmers in 2008, with years of experience as a smallholder farmer (Yidnekachew) and degrees in agricultural economics and business administration (Mesfin). They now employ 35 permanent and 95 seasonal workers, offering high wages and benefits while helping smallholders in the region by sharing advice and technological advancements.
And now for something completely different: Borboya Washed is sweet and juicy, bursting with tropical fruit, floral, and tea-like notes. It's clean yet complex, and one of our favorites here at the roasting facility.
This coffee is produced by approximately 670 farmers from the Yirgacheffe coffee growing region in Borena zone. The high altitude of this region creates an ideal micro-climate for growing extraordinary coffees. Though the farmers who produce this coffee are not members of a co-op, they work together to combine harvests from their privately-owned farms for processing and export.
After harvest, the farmers bring their coffee to the Borboya Washing Station, where the cherries are sorted and pulped. Then they are fermented in water for about 36 hours, depending on the weather conditions. After washing the coffee, the beans in their parchment are dried on elevated beds. After about 10 days the coffee is dry enough to be stored in the local warehouse.
Now you know: when you're looking for something assertively fruity, with bright acidity and deep sweetness, an Ethiopian coffee is a solid bet!