It can be difficult when buying Ethiopian coffee to understand exactly where the coffee has come from. The grading system used by the ECX (Ethiopian Commodity Exchange) to market certain coffees involves bundling lots together from different washing stations, and therefore thousands of smallholder producers, into similar quality bands and flavour profiles. We are able to benefit from the relationships that Nordic Approach have been building on the ground in Ethiopia, in that their staff have access to anecdotal information about the exact source of the coffees, beyond simply the administrative zone and woreda (town). There are also some legislation changes happening that will allow certain privately owned wet mills to start marketing and selling their coffee more directly, and so it will be interesting to see how things have changed when we visit again next year.
This particular coffee comes from the Kochere woreda in Yirgacheffe, located in the SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region). In years past this may have been the sum total of information on the provenance of the coffee that we would have access to, but through digging further we know the lot has been produced by around 600 smallholders living in the Banko Fuafuate kebele (a small village) that deliver cherry to a privately owned washing called Beyene. The focus is to improve quality through fantastic cherry selection and impeccable washing protocols, which means that the majority of production is classed as Grade 1 coffee, fetching the highest prices at the ECX.
Most of the smallholders in Banko Fuafuate are only tending to 1,000 or so coffee trees. They are typically working organically, due mostly to the lack of availability of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Once their harvested cherry is delivered to the Beyene station it is pulped and fermented under clean water for 48 hours. The clean parchment is then soaked for a further 24 hours in a refreshed water tank before being slowly dried on raised beds for up to 15 days. The combination of heirloom varieties, including Certo and Wolisho, as well as high altitudes and fertile red soils produce coffees with elegance, layered flavours, bountiful aromatics and what we see as one of the most rewarding drinking experiences.
Banko Fuafuate, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
Expect a sweet, silky and floral cup with real elegance. White tropical fruit notes complement herbal flavours of coriander seed and green tea.