Ethiopia is the oldest coffee consuming culture. It is the birthplace of coffee, where it grew wild within the forests of the western regions. There is more regional distinction here than anywhere else. With around 150 different languages spoken, tribal separation and customs, as well as the effects of living in such drastically different landscapes, coffee seems to be the common thread that holds all of Ethiopia together. Each region, each zone, each woreda (district) is as individual as the next. Part of this is the trees themselves. I refer to the varietal as "Native Selection”, because each area prides itself on the taste of their land. The coffee that has been growing there for hundreds of years is replanted each season to maintain this taste. “Heirloom”, “Landrace”, and “Wild” are used in absence of a cultivated varietal. Location is also used to name the type of plant grown in a particular area.
So, in the Sidama region, of the Guji Zone, within the Kercha woreda, lies Inshe, where this coffee grows. The people are members of the Guji Oromia tribe and live a very rural, coffee focused life. They have joined together with the Oromia Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union and localized washing stations to process, represent and sell their coffees. With a few hundred members, each with at most a half hectare of land growing coffee, the lots are separated by the waves of harvested cherries as they come into the washing station. Processing is done with disc depulping, fermentation under water for up to 48 hours, washing in long corrugated channels and drying on raised beds. This is Ethiopia.
Kercha is a beautiful expression of youthful exuberance. Aromas of rose and eucalyptus turn into whispers of floral tea and meyer lemon. This coffee explodes with the juiciness of honey dew, mango, nectarine, and even golden raspberry. It starts with a splash that transforms to focus on the syrupy feel of melon and floating aspects of a fine oolong. Through the florals and fruit, you’ll find this dream anchored with a delightful hazelnut cream and gingersnap cookie. Sure to lift your head up into the clouds, like giving yourself flowers on a Monday morning.
In the heart of Southern Colombia’s coffee region, where Huila meets Tolima and Cauca, we find some of the most treasured micro-climates nestled within the creases of the Andes mountains. This area is home to Colombia’s highest volcano at 5,364 meters, Navedo del Huila. Guadualito is a village with less than 10 structures scattered about amongst the emerald sea of coffee trees. That’s it! Hidden between Santa Maria and Palermo in Huila, we find Saul and Jose producing some of the finest coffee in the area. They tend to their farm planted with Caturra and Colombia varietals at 1700 masl. Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety that formed in Brazil in the late 1930’s. Smaller, more compact, and higher yielding, Caturra was introduced into Colombia in 1952 and was widely accepted by most farmers by 1960. Today, nearly 45% of all coffee grown in Colombia is Caturra. The Colombia varietal was released in 1982 after five generations of successful crossings of Caturra and Hybrid of Timor, resulting in a high yielding coffee that shows resistance to coffee leaf rust. Rich in history, lush in agriculture, and steeped in tradition and culture, Huila is a shining example of the possibilities that the land and the people have, respectfully working together from one generation to the next.
As diverse as the landscape, this coffee has quite the range of flavors. Refreshing tart plum and tamarind provides a juicy start that falls into a rich and buttery body, like a pecan sandies. As the coffee cools, it opens up to show honeysuckle blossom and red currant floating through the finish. You’ll think you had cookies for breakfast.
Yanatile, from the Quechua words Yana (Black) and Ttili (heavy, thick) in honor of the ancestral observation of the river that washes the shores of the valley, is a land of hidden treasures and epic heights. The road there zigzags over rivers and streams while winding up and down the valley walls on a narrow ribbon of road that barely accommodates one lane of traffic, not the two that actually use it. A grueling drive that requires constant attention and plenty of luck. Located directly west of Machu Picchu, Americo Astete Palomino does a miraculous job at producing quality in this sacred valley. Around 2000 masl, you’ll find this farm planted with beautiful Typica, Bourbon, and Caturra varietals that produced a total of 5 bags worth of green coffee. Equipped with his own depulper and tile-lined washing tank, Americo takes processing into his own hands to capture a precise representation of this mysterious land. The valley is arid and desert-like, creating an ideal environment for drying and storing parchment coffee. Times are changing from when merchants would come to town to buy coffees being lost in larger bulk blends to proudly coveting the beauty that Yanatile has to offer. Mr. Palomino, thank you for your dedication. Your coffee is spectacular.
In a cutout of the Andes Mountainside, this coffee has highlights and depth with hidden surprises as the cup continues to unfold. The aromatics welcome with the warmth of toasted walnut and the gentle floral aspects of black currant. The profile starts with the juiciness of red grapes and fresh ripe figs that slowly drip with a dark honey viscosity. At the center of palate, you’ll find an elegant dark chocolate that tumbles around with a creamy almond toffee. It’s almost like you’re floating down the Yanatile River while catching the moon shine through the mountains.