Before we headed to Ethiopia this February, our good friend Morten from Nordic Approach (NA) had already spent considerable time at their cupping lab in Addis curating a selection of nearly 100 different coffees for us to taste. A great benefit of working with such an active and dynamic company as NA is in being able to learn a great deal about the coffees we end up purchasing. This is especially difficult in Ethiopia due to the complexities of the country and the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), therefore it is the only origin where NA have three permanent staff on the ground all year round.
Having cupped the entire range of pre-selects we are excited to have settled on three distinct coffees from three different regions that are perfect for our 2016 filter range; Bildiimoo, Kelloo and Samii. Having approved the coffee based on taste we went on a little explorative journey with NA to find out exactly where the coffees came from, which in Ethiopia is no mean feat. A core tenet of the ECX is to commodify certain goods, coffee included, which is an absolute disaster for specialty produce as the uniqueness of a certain producer or area is ironed out through a particular lot being bulked in with other ‘like’ lots. Marketed using broad geographic areas and wide quality bands limits the degree of information that Ethiopian coffee is typically sold with, e.g. Limu Grade 1. Being able to delve deeper is exciting as we’re able to hone in on how terroir and the work of a producer influences the cup. Co-operatives or single farmers with a producer/export license are able to market, sell and export coffee, increasing the traceability for roasters creating this extra layer of provenance.
Bildiimoo, from private producer Badessa Washed Coffee PLC, owned by Gennene Kumalo and based in Nensebo, is located in what is classified as the “Sidamo A” coffee growing region in Oromia. An area of arid plains and plateaus, mountains and hills and an incredibly poor population, coffee, planted over 5,000 hectares in the region, is an indispensable source of income. Bildiimoo is the cumulative effort and hard work of 765 smallholder farmers, most of whom own less than one hectare of coffee, organic by virtue of not having access to chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
The wet mill use a traditional disc pulper to remove cherry skins after sorting for under and over-ripe fruits. The pulper’s design sorts cherry by density, feeding floating cherries into a separate channel from the ripe cherry. Once pulped the dense seeds are covered with clean water and fermented for between 24 and 48 hours, the exact time being dictated by the weather. Another stage of density sorting takes place in the grading channels once the fruit mucilage has been broken down and scrubbed off the parchment coffee, ensuring only the most flavourful and mature seeds make their way into the highest grades. Before being put out to dry on raised beds, first under shade and then in the sun for 10 to 12 days, they undergo another stage of soaking in clean water for a further 24 hours.
Not only is the producer key in the processing. The dry mill is also integral to the final quality of the product. Milled at the BNT facility on the outskirts of Addis, the mill is easily the cleanest and most dust-free operation we have seen on all of our travels.
Having a permanent team in the country, as well as staff from their Oslo office visiting throughout the year, Nordic Approach are able to highlight where production looks promising and gain a head-start in assessing who is going to be producing high quality, consistent lots. We’re pleased to work with them in procuring fantastic coffees from some stellar producers in Ethiopia yet again and are excited to share the results. We hope you enjoy.
Nensebo, Sidamo, Ethiopia
Luscious, fruited flavours of apricot and lychee are accented by black tea and tamarind notes, whilst a crisp acidity underpins honeycomb and violet aromatics.