Coffee Profile: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

Ethiopian – Yirgacheffe

Not too long ago I began to design a tattoo as the urge for a new one had started to grow. I started to think about what I wanted it to represent and inevitably found myself reflecting on the last thirty years of my life. I decided that I wanted the end result to be a manifestation of my origins, where I came from and the foundations that made me who I am. I haven’t booked the appointment yet, I’m still working on it, but the theme of the last month has been my roots, origins, beginnings and how I got to be sitting here writing this article. So, naturally it seems fitting to be reviewing the birth place of coffee – Ethiopia.

As the story goes, in Kaffa Ethiopia AD850, a goat herder observed his goats getting a little silly after they grazed on a native cherry. Kaldi, being the enterprising young goat herder he was, consequently knew he was onto a good thing. The rest of this particular tale is going to take way too long to tell in its entirety so let’s fast track it a bit. Coffea Arabica has been growing wild in Ethiopia since the dawn of time and is known by the Ethiopian people as “buna”. The coffee industry is the seventh largest producer in the world and employs well over 12 million people in some 350,000 farms located in the regions of Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Limmu and Djimmah. The traditional way that Ethiopians grow their coffee are included in certifications such as Fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and certified organic. The grading system there just recently got a shake up by the introduction of the “Q” grading system for specialty coffees. Up until now coffees would be graded as based on its process; wet receiving a grade 1-3 and dry processed receive a 4-5. Now many coffees can be submitted to a second of round of scrutinising based on cup quality and further grading to receive a specialty coffee classification.

Yirgacheffe holds the title in the wet processed division of coffees. They are renowned for their clean cup with powerful floral and fruit notes, but it can be a little hit and miss sometimes when cupping a pooled style coffee such as this (coffee that is sourced from all over one region and not from a specific farm), but when you strike a good lot of Yirgacheffe it will knock you out quicker than Danny Green. Beginning with sublime aromas of sweet sugary honey and hints of cedar and raisin, it is then followed by a well balanced floral acidity in the cup. The flavours are very up front and straight away there is berry, citrus and soft cocoa with a subtle underlining of Mediterranean herbs. Theses flavours are on the bright side but they bring a well toned smoothness and medium body to the pallet, and as the cup cools the aromatic herbs come to the forefront.

Ethiopian coffee has long been used as the main flavour component in espresso blends, but the Yirgacheffe I feel, is wasted in a blend because there is so much to explore when cupping it alone. However, if you want to add a little extra pizzazz and flavour to your cup it will defiantly add an extra dimension to any blend.

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