Blueberry, bergamot and vanilla
Situated in the Kochere woreda of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, the Boji washing station lies around 25km from the town of Yirgacheffe in the village of Ch'elelek'tu. Delivering to this station there are about 500 smallholders all farming on around 1 hectare of land each. We loved this natural coffee for its brightness with those typical Blueberry flavours with a sparkling acidity shining right through that layer of syrupy sweetness that characterise a good natural Ethiopian coffee.
Aside from its near-legendary status as the "birthplace" of Arabica coffee, there is much to love about Ethiopia as a producing nation, including but not limited to the incredible diversity of flavour and character that exists amongst it's micro-regions: within the southwestern Gedeo Zone of Yirgacheffe, and within the region of Sidama, both areas whose names alone conjure thoughts of the finest coffees in the world. Coffee was literally made to thrive in the lush environment Yirgacheffe’s forests provide, developing nuanced floral characteristics, articulate sweetness and sparkling acidity.
Natural processing at the Boji station follows traditional Ethiopian methods. An initial cherry screening through flotation and a visual check holds back unwanted cherries. Boji is equipped with sorting tables and floating tanks to monitor the cherry quality at intake. The collection agent oversees the quality of the cherries before processing. For the natural coffees, they dump the cherries in a flotation tank first to clean off any dirt. Only the cherries that sink are accepted for the high qualities. Floaters are kept aside for separate processing for lower grades.
After cleaning, the workers carry the cherries straight to the drying field. They spread the cherries in a single layer and stir them twice an hour. During this phase, it is easy to pick out any damaged cherries that made it through the initial selection. After a few days, they increase the thickness of the layer to slow down the drying a little. Total drying time can take up to three weeks under cloudy conditions, or two weeks with many sunny days.
A mix of local varieties, such as native coffee of forest origin transferred to family smallholder plots. The varieties are referred to collectively as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a myriad of local native Typica hybrids and new improved varieties based on the old strains.