Taste Like: Pineapple Soda, Pie Spices, Graham Cracker
Region: Golocha, Harar, Ethiopia
Producer: Tegene Abebe
Altitude: 1975 masl
Varietal: Abadiro, Kubaniya
Tegene owns two farms in the Golocha area of Harrar. These farms are very remote, even by Ethiopian standards, and comprise around twenty hectares between the two of them. It's about a 3 hour hike to Tegene's farms from the closest road. Tegene first started working with our partners from Ethiopia Dominion Trading and Catalyst Coffee, 3 years ago. At this time his coffee was scoring 76 points on the SCA scale (not good but typical of commercial Harrari coffees).
Tegene was not happy with how his coffee scored and wanted to make speciality coffees mainly because of the opportunity of receiving better prices for better coffee when trading through speciality channels as opposed to trading through the commodity market.
So, he consulted with Dominion and Catalyst and developed methods of producing much better coffees, including improved selective harvesting practices, drying protocols and fertilization (compost) schedules and experimenting with harvesting at night (because of the higher saturation of sugar content in coffee cherries at night vs the day). Tegene seems willing to do whatever it takes to produce the best coffee possible in order to receive the best price possible for his crop. Tegene does this, not in the romantic notion that many in the industry impose on producers of the person dedicated to quality for quality's sake but rather (like most producers realistically), to create better opportunities for his family (such as schooling) through the increased revenue that specialty coffee can provide.
Amazingly, through better practices, Tegene's coffees scored fantastically better last year than the years before. We scored this lot at 87 points. A full 11 point increase in just a year!!! In the cup the coffee reminds us of some of the great Yemeni coffees we've cupped in the past. Lower toned yet fully complex with notes of pineapple soda, pie spices and graham cracker. The coffee kind of reminds me of chai tea in that it has a nice black tea character with a lot of spice notes and very nice round sweetness. The fruit character is definitely present in a syrupy, stewed, soda like tropical fruit note but it is not at all overwhelming like it is in the more popular naturals from other regions of Ethiopia.
On our recent trip to Ethiopia we had the chance to cup this year's harvest with Tegene and, although not yet rested, his coffees were already tasting amazing and right on the track for another year of 87+ point coffees.
Harrar is an arid coffee-growing region in eastern Ethiopia. Due to the arid climate the coffee does not have the "fruit bomb" characteristics we are used to from natural processed coffees from the wetter regions of southern and western Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, and Limu (Keffa). The main contributor to these differing flavor profiles is the different fermentation and drying profiles that a coffee goes through when drying in a dry climate vs. a wet climate. Typically in a wet climate the coffee drys slower, leaving more of the fruit sugars in tact for a longer period, therefore imparting more fruit and acidity into the cup.
Due to the dry climate all coffees from Harar are processed without the use of water (dry/natural).