Ethiopian Heirloom Varieties
48-Hour Wet Fermentation, 14-Day Raised Bed Drying
November 2018 - February 2019
Chelbessa Washing Station
Harvested at the peak of ripeness, this coffee comes to us from a private washing station in Worka Chelbessa, Ethiopia. Chelbessa is one of the largest Kebeles [towns] in Gedeb, a county tucked within the renowned Yirgacheffe region. Thought to be the seedstock of all coffee, the Ethiopian heirloom varieties grown in Yirgacheffe have been cultivated for centuries, rooting the coffee in a rich history and an almost mythic quality.
The Yirgacheffe zone is broken down into six different Woredas [counties]. These micro-regions within Yirgacheffe are akin to appellations in wine––each with their own distinctive flavor palate. Gedeb is one of the more celebrated of these counties, and coffees from the area carry a refined take on the region’s iconic floral and fruit profile.
The Chelbessa Washing Station is run by our friends at SNAP. SNAP partners with some 486 smallholder farmers in and around Chelbessa to sort, process, and export their coffees. This agricultural community’s dedication to their craft is apparent when you sift through the cherries at harvest. Consistency in picking is some of the best we’ve seen, yielding an almost unblemished crop.
The care in cultivation is matched by the attention brought to processing. At the washing station, a team of professional coffee processors attend to every detail. Beginning by removing the skin and fruit from the seed, the coffee is then submerged underwater for 48 hours. This extended underwater fermentation slightly germinates the coffee seeds, a process unique to Ethiopia. After soaking, the coffee is carefully dried on raised beds, ensuring a slow and even drying.
All of this work, from near-obsessive picking to the finesse in processing, reveals the true potential of coffees from this region. Sweet black tea and peach characteristics have an almost fig-like dark fruit quality, finishing clean and floral.
The product of hundreds of years of thoughtful cultivation and a tradition of care, the inimitable grace of Ethiopia Chelbessa is unquestioned.
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