This coffee caught our attention from the very first sip. It has all the attributes a washed coffee hailing from Ethiopia's famous Yirgacheffe region can have — so delicate and floral! Coffee, which takes you straight into the springtime with clean running spring water and fragrant, flourishing blossoms everywhere. Once ground, it gives the impression that the room is full of blooming jasmines and luscious, ripe apricots. Remarkable! Once it is ready to taste — apricots transform into a more like a dried apricot form. The coffee clearly shows its notes of black tea and quince, a mouthfeel of silky milk chocolate, and of course — a long-lasting aftertaste of jasmine. Boom!
Plus, it is organic certified!
Traceability and origin
The Chelbessa Washing station, where this coffee was processed, is fairly new to the coffee landscape in Yirgacheffe. Nonetheless, this family-owned and operated station is producing exceptional coffees.
Chelbessa partners up with SNAP Coffee Exporters, who have been promoting Ethiopia Specialty Coffee since 2008 and serve around 500 smallholder farmers in and around the town (Kebele) of Chelbessa.
Farmers in this region have been growing coffee for generations upon generations. They are true specialists and are committed to using the best chemical-free cultivation methods. These methods result in an already stand-out product, and Chelbessa makes the most of this by adhering to stringent post-harvest standards.
Yirgacheffe is a part of the Sidamo region in southern Ethiopia. It is widely recognized as one of the key “birth regions” of the coffee, and its washed coffees are so well-known that it has been sub-divided into a micro-region. Most of the coffee grows at around 2000+ meters above sea level, and varieties tend to be local landraces - domesticated, locally adapted, traditional varieties of coffee, native to the immediate surroundings. JARC varieties, developed by the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre, are also ubiquitous in the area.
Most farmers in the region farm on fewer than 5 hectares (many counting their coffee farms in terms of trees rather than area!). Cultivation methods are traditional for the most part, with coffee being grown as a part of an integrated “coffee garden,” intercropped with other food crops.
We are very happy to be able to bring you this coffee with full traceability intact, something that would not have been possible a few years ago. Previously, all private washing stations, except cooperatives, were mandated to sell their coffee to the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Often, this caused a loss of traceability and price transparency. Now farmers can sell their coffee directly to importers and other buyers and even coffees coming through the ECX maintain their unique identity.
There are between 6.000 to 10.000 Regional Landraces and the JARC has developed around 40 improved varieties, which have been distributed among farmers all over the country. These improved varieties address issues of leaf rust, cup quality, and yielding and today, are widely used all over the coffee growing regions in Ethiopia.
All coffee is selectively hand-harvested before being delivered to the washing station. At the washing station, Chelbessa’s team ensures that only the ripest cherries are processed. After being sorted again, coffee is delivered to the pulpers to be pulped and then fermented underwater for 24–36 hours, depending on the weather conditions. Once the fermentation is completed the parchment is thoroughly washed and is then graded in washing channels, separating each lot into two grades based on density. Once graded, the coffee is soaked in clean spring water tanks for 12–24 hours to remove all traces of fermented mucilage.
After washing, the coffee is delivered to raised beds to dry under shade for 10-14 days until the moisture content reaches 12%. During this time, the coffee is regularly turned and hand-sorted several times to remove any damaged or discolored beans. Coffee is covered with plastic during the hottest hours of the day to protect the parchment from drying too quickly. Equally, it is covered overnight to prevent condensation from seeping into the drying parchment. All this labor and tons of love result in a truly exquisite cup profile.