White nectarine and honeysuckle sweetness with a black tea like finish
Yes it’s time for the fresh crop Ethiopians to land and our first one of the season is the return of the Gera Farm washed coffee from Limu in the Oromia region. This is located in the south west of Ethiopia and is close to one of the main coffee towns of the area Jimma. This is our third year of taking this coffee and it always represents a good sign of what’s to follow from the more well known Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Guji zones. The washed coffees arrive first and the extra drying time required for the naturals mean that they follow shortly after.
The Gera wet mill uses the local river for water to move beans through the depulper to the fermentation tanks, where the coffee remains for 36-48 hours before being cleaned again and moved to the drying tables for 10 days. The facilities here provide 14 tanks for fermentation and two soaking tanks for floating the beans when they come in so that they can maintain a constant flow of beans, and therefore maintain quality during busy harvest times.
65% of Ethiopia’s coffee growing area is located within the Oromia region. The majority of the regions coffee is known as garden coffee due to the small plots of land with lower yields, as producers multicrop with other cash crops to maximise their returns. Where research has been done on what are collectively known as heirloom coffees in Ethiopia, distinct varieties have been labelled with a numbering system more recently replaced with a name more local to where the plant was identified. Plants would be observed in the wild forests for distinct characteristics (such as disease resistance) and if not already listed, recorded. The first two digits represent the year in which it was discovered, the last three referring to the sample number. In this case our import partners DR Wakefield have provided the following varietal listing: 74-165, 74-140, 74-110, 74-112,74-4, 75-227.
We came across an excellent podcast recently published by the folks at The Coffee Podcast discussing Ethiopian varietals and why we should be more specific than just saying ‘heirloom’ within specialty coffee. In addition the renowned coffee research team at The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have published an excellent Atlas of Ethiopian Coffee which details the different growing regions and their characteristics which is definitely worth sticking on the coffee book reference shelf. Their work is mainly centred on effects of climate change on the existing growing regions and what changes could be made to ensure a sustainable future for what is one of the most iconic coffee countries. The full report does not exactly make light reading but it’s weight is worthy of this topic.
Gera farm is stretched over the highland areas at altitudes between 1900 and 2100 meters, which is ideal for high quality Arabica ecology. No chemical fertilisers or insecticides are used. The system is based on sustainability principles for production through protection of the farming environment and improving the living and working conditions of the employees. All coffees are shade grown, with special emphasis on soil and water conservation along with environmental protection by enriching the soil with nitrogen fixing plants. For the employees, the enterprise provides houses, schools for children, potable water, electricity, healthcare, recreation facilities, etc. free of charge.