Amazing fruity notes perfume the air when you open a fresh bag of Ethiopia Yirgecheffe. Brewed, a splash of berry hits your mouth and adds a deliciously distinct tang to the cup. What makes this coffee so different from other types?
Ethiopia is the native home of the Coffea arabica plant, where it grows wild in the forests of Kaffa. The methods of growing, harvesting, and processing haven’t changed much over the last several centuries.
The ripe coffee cherries are processed in one of two ways; it may be washed to remove the fruit before drying (wet process), or it may be dried with the fruit intact (natural, or dry process).
Environmental conditions and genetic composition give most Ethiopian coffees a colorful starting flavor palette of fruit, floral, caramel and mocha. Which of these rises to dominate the overall taste profile depends a lot on the region of origin and the method of processing.
The three main types of Ethiopian coffees are Harrar, Sidamo, and Yirgecheffe. These refer to the general growing regions within Ethiopia, though they are better described as “types” of coffee, rather than nailing down a specific place of origin. Harrar coffees are well known for their strong mocha flavors, while Sidamo and Yirgecheffe bring more floral and fruit tendencies to the cup.
Our coffee is the natural processed Yirgecheffe type. The cherries are hand-picked and sorted, and then spread into thin layers to dry on raised beds. This infuses the intense flavors of the drying fruit into the bean. The drying beans are also constantly being raked and picked through for quality. Once the cherries have dried (like turning grapes into raisins), they’re peeled and the beans prepared for shipment.
The difference between a dry-processed bean and a wet-processed one is similar to comparing grape juice to wine. Where grape juice is bright and upfront, wine is smoother and has more depth. Both taste good, they’re just different variations on a theme. The days of sun dying and fruit sugar fermentation undergone by the natural processed coffee cherries brings a more intense, deeper, more mature flavor to the final cup.
This also means that there’s a lot of variation in the crop. Much like wine grapes can improve or diminished by a particular year’s environmental conditions, Ethiopian coffees can rise high or fall hard if the dance of chemistry and weather isn’t perfect. Our beans are sourced by experts who taste dozens of cups from each year’s crop, picking out the top candidates for roasting, which we pass on to you.
This month Green Zebra Grocery’s brew bar is featuring our Ethiopia Yirgecheffe, fresh brewed starting at 7 am at 3011 N Lombard St, Portland. Try a hot, expertly brewed cup today!