There’s a reason why Ethiopian Yirgacheffe consistently ranks among the best coffee in the world, and certainly the among the best in Ethiopia itself.
Yirgacheffe (also spelled Yirgachefe, Yergacheffe, or Yerga Chefe) is a micro-region within the much larger region of Sidama (or Sidomo) in southern Ethiopia. It is widely considered the birthplace of coffee.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe has a light to medium body (although they can be full body as well). As is typical with other coffees from this region, it has a distinctively fruity flavor profile and a bright, floral aroma thanks to wet-processed beans cultivated at a high elevation (between 5,800 to 6,600 ft).
The Hafursa Haru washing station is located close to Yirgacheffe town, not far from the boundary with the Oromia zone. The area itself has a population of just over 195 thousand, of which only 8% are urban dwellers. There are 12 standardized fermentation tanks at the washing station, and over 160 drying beds. This allows for fast turnaround whilst keeping traceability of the lots, something that is becoming more and more a part of processing in Ethiopia as trade opens up.
The varieties themselves are often referred to as heirloom, though, having high genetic diversity means that what is heirloom in one area is not a guarantee of the same characteristics as an heirloom from another region. Kumie (kurume, kudhume) is often labelled as Yirgacheffe or Yirgacheffe type, and is quite a small bean, whilst Dega is more widely spread and Wolisho typical in the highlands.
Coffee is brought to the washing station by the many smallholders that live locally. The cherry is handpicked to remove any noticeable defects before being taken to the raised drying beds and dried for around 21 days. Once dried, it is hulled to remove the husk, then stored before being taken to Addis Ababa for sorting, grading and export.
Rory’s Tasting Notes:
Gooseberry, lime, nectarine, lemon, blackberry.