THE STORY BEHIND
This lot comes from a group of small farmers in the Sidama region of Southern Ethiopia. Thanks to the changes to export laws in Ethiopia, small producers are now able to market their coffee directly, but this is still very challenging, and few have access to the necessary financial resources to start trading directly. This group of farmers in Sidama all have between 3 and 12 hectares and all have their own export licenses, but this year they assigned Buriso Amaje as their group leader who now coordinates the milling and export of the coffee in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Abeba. These farmers have amazing potential, which this lot fully demonstrates, but with some additional training in farm management and picking, processing and drying, as well as agronomists’ input, the quality of their coffees is set to improve even further.
Basha and his wife and two children own 3 hectares of land in the Bombe village in Bensa, Sidama. Basha cultivates the 74160 variety which he received through the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre. The coffee grows under the shade of native trees in a forest. Basha’s family single-handedly pick and process all of their coffee. The cherries are placed on raised beds at the family home to dry for around one month.
The 74160 variety is a selection produced by the Jimma research centre. This variety has been selected from wild plants in the Metu-Bishari forest in the Illubabor zone in Western Ethiopia. 74160 is a widespread variety across Ethiopia and was selected for its resistance to coffee berry disease (CBD) and its high yield. This variety is known to have very pronounced citrus and floral notes.
THE FERMENTATION PROCESS
Dry process seems simple: pick the fruit, lay it out in the sun until it turns from red to brown to near-back, and then hull off off the thick, dried outer layer in one step to reveal the green bean. It is a method suited to arid regions, where the sun and heat can dry the seed inside the intact fruit skin.
It’s often referred to as «natural coffee» because of its simplicity, and because the fruit remains intact and undisturbed, a bit like drying grapes into raisins. Since it requires minimal investment, the dry process method is a default to create cheap commodity-grade coffee in areas that have the right climate capable of drying the fruit and seed.
But it’s a fail in humid or wet regions. If the drying isn’t progressing fast enough, the fruit degrades, rots or molds.
Dry-processed coffees can also be wildly inconsistent. If you want a cleanly-fruited, sweet, intense cup, dry process (DP) takes more hand labor than the wet process. Even the most careful pickers will take green unripe or semi-ripe coffee off the branch as they pick red, ripe cherry. If these are not removed in the first days of drying, the green turns to brown that is hard to distinguish from the ripe fruit.