This is the second of two Ethiopian coffees we have roasted this year from Israel Degfa. You may remember a filter coffee released late last year named ‘Mokonisa’ after the washing station it was processed at. This new espresso comes from the Bulega washing station, which is another one of the thirteen washing stations owned by Israel Degfa, that are scattered all across South and South-Western Ethiopia. Being the owner of the washing station he has in recent years decided to re-focus on turning out fine quality coffees rather than solely aiming to produce large quantities. Israel also owns a trading company called Kerchansche, and so has a handle on the coffee’s journey from the time the fruit arrives at his washing stations to the time it arrives into the UK. It can make things a little clearer when the producer and exporter of the coffee are one and the same, which is quite a break from the norm when it comes to Ethiopia.
It may all sound quite grand owning so many washing stations and a trading company, but Israel is a second generation coffee farmer with humble beginnings. As a child he used to pocket his bus money, opting instead to walk for hours to get to school in order to save up enough to buy his first stake in a washing station, and the rest is history.
Bulega station is located in the small woreda, or town, of Nensabo in Ethiopia’s West Arsi Zone in Oromia. Our first experience tasting this coffee was that it tasted almost Kenyan because of the abundance of blackberry and blackcurrant like fruit notes and acidity.
Most of the smallholders in Nensebo are only tending to a few hundred coffee trees. They are typically working organically, mostly due to the lack of availability of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Once their harvested coffee cherries are delivered to the Bulega station they are pulped and fermented under clean water for up to 48 hours. This seems like a very long time, but the high altitude of the station creates a very cool ambient temperature. The clean parchment is then graded in channels before being soaked for a further 24 hours in a refreshed water tank. Now that it is squeaky clean the parchment coffee is slowly dried on raised beds for up to 15 days. The combination of heirloom varieties as well as high altitudes and fertile soils produce coffees with elegance, layered flavours, bountiful aromatics and what we see as one of the most rewarding drinking experiences.
We’re very happy to have met such an inspiring person as Israel, and are excited to once again be roasting his coffee and sharing it with you.
Nensebo, West Arsi, Ethiopia
Chocolatey, spicy and heady with a sweet blackcurrant acidity. This rich espresso has notes of kirsch, gingerbread, black cherries and violets.