This is the first natural process we are buying from Ethiopia in five years. We absolutely fell in love with it at the cupping table such a sweet and well-structured cup with notes of red fruit, seabuckthorn and some elderflower. The washing station behind it is Alemu Bukato and about 650 small-holders delivering coffee to his washing station. It’s a costly process that requires good labour and attention if you want it at high quality levels.
About Alemu Buktu
Alemu Bukato owns this communal wet mill located in the Banko Gutiti area of Kochere. He is collecting and buying cherries from various smallholders, working to increase the quality and have better preparation at the washing station. A lot of it is prepared and graded as Grade 1, as is this stunning lot.
About Kochere smallholders
Some six hundred and fifty smallholder farmers delivering tiny amounts of cherries daily to the wet miller.
On average farmers are having a farm size of less than 1 hectares. Most coffees are organic by default. Organic compost is common, pruning less common. A farmer can typically have less than 1500 trees per hectare, and one tree is typically producing cherries equal to less than 100 - 200 grams of green coffee.
At the moment we also have the washed-processed coffee Beloya from Israel Defga from the Korchere region, that could be fun to try side by side.
Producing great natural coffees is challenging and it requires at least as much attention to details as producing good washed coffees. This producer is targeting the highest quality grades there is, grade 1. They have site collectors in the local villages carefully selecting the ripe cherries with better qualities, as well as the nearby farmers delivers cherries to the mill. The cherries are the hand sorted for un-ripe and overripe cherries to get a sweeter and cleaner product. The Natural coffee is normally processed at the later part of the harvest and that’s when the harvest is peaking at the higher altitudes.
The first phase of drying is crucial and are in relatively thin layers on the tables to avoid fermented flavours and it should reach what’s called the “raisin” stage at about 25% moist in a few days. It’s important to move the cherries carefully to avoid damage on the fruit.
In the second phase, from 25% - 12% moist, the layers are built up, and it’s constantly moved during the daytime, and needs some rest midday and at night. An uncontrolled drying sequence can increase the very fruity flavours and make it unstable, and if too slow it can create mould and other off flavours. This natural processed coffee has a drying time of 15 – 18 days. It’s a costly process that requires good labour and attention if you want it at the highest quality levels.
The coffee is a mix of local improved varieties like Certo and local Wolisho such as native coffee of forest origin transferred to family smallholder plots. The varieties are referred to collectively as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a myriad of local native Typica hybrids and new improved varietals based on the old strains.
Producer: Alemu Bukato, privately owned communal washing station
Region: Kochere, Guji region
Varietal: Ethiopian Heirloom, a mix of local improved varieties like Certo and local Wolisho.
Harvest: December 2016 to January 2017
Soil: Red-brown, fertile and well drained
Elevation: 2000 meters above sea level
Processing: Natural process
Drying: 15 to 20 days
Sourced by: Nordic Approach
Flavour description: A sweet and well-structured cup with notes of liqueur and red berries with hints of elderflower and seabuckthorn.