In an attempt to find a farm or two we could start working with more closely (like do in Centra-America and Colombia) in order to improve the coffee qualities we buy from in Ethiopia, I went on a trip in December 2018 to visit a handful of farms in the western part of Ethiopia. Out of those visits we ended up buying from three different farms where Fahem is the biggest one of them. At Fahem I was visiting with Semeon Abay, who now works for Tropiq, Ethiopia and Hayatudin Jamal who works for Fahem and Mohammed Lalo. I was quite impressed with the infrastructure on the farm and also how they had planted varieties separate from each other and kept the natural forest canopy over the coffee trees. However I still saw huge potential for improving the coffee quality on the farm and potential for producing a good amount of very high quality coffee. I asked Hayatudin if they were willing to follow my suggested processing and drying protocol and produce 50 bags of coffee for me. I would of course commit to buying the 50 bags of that coffee. Hayatudin agreed and I asked Semeon if he could help me with quality controlling the picking and processing and help Hayatudin and his team produce the coffee in the way I had specified. We managed to produce four different lots in total where two were natural processed and two washed coffees, all separated by variety. Unfortunately we bumped in to some challenges with shipping and logistics, but at least we managed to get most of the coffees to Norway in good condition. I really loved how the washed coffees turned out and think they are quite different from the typical coffees you will find further south in Ethiopia, like near Yirgacheffe. The coffees from the west have always appealed to me and this one is no exception with loads of tropical fruit notes but still with very floral characteristics.
Tatmara Natural (74112), Kaffa, Ethiopia
I am very excited to announce our first coffee from a single producer in Ethiopia since the famous Olke Birre coffee we had a few years ago. What is different now is that this time the coffee is from a different area and also from a bigger farm and hopefully we will be able to buy coffee from Negussie in the many years to come. Ethiopia opened up for smaller farmers to sell coffee directly to Roasters last year so I immediately contacted the French import company Belco, to see if they could help me get in touch with some farmers I could possibly start working with and buy coffee from. After a week of traveling in the areas of Jimma and Kaffa there were a few farms that stood out for me and one of them was the Tatmara Coffee Plantation and farmer Negussie Tadesse. Negussie was already separating his coffees by variety but was only producing natural processed coffees due to not having infrastructure to wash coffees yet. He had a very open mind and wanted to work with quality so I decided to at least get started by buying some natural processed coffees and then see if we can support him in building a wet mill for washing coffees in the future. We agreed upon a protocol on how to produce 80 bags of high quality natural processed coffees for us (this is not so easy as it seems) and I was surprised on how good they turned out. Normally I am not the biggest fan of natural processed coffees as they are difficult to produce well and often have taints of over ripe fruit due to uncontrolled fermentation within each coffee cherry during drying and also a peanutty flavour from uneven ripeness of the cherries. Negussie made sure he only dried the coffees in really thin layers and also only with the fully ripe cherries for us and the results are really tasty. In fact I liked them so much that we might just continue focusing on buying his naturals. We will see…
For me these coffees still have hints of flavours from fermentation but they are pleasant like fresh peach, fresh ripe strawberry and floral. As the coffee cools it does not turn to an unpleasant over ripe fruity note like a lot of naturals in the market, but it keeps its vibrancy and cleanliness. It makes these coffees really great for making iced coffee as well.
We have separated and bought two different cultivars from this farm. The first one we are launching is the 74110 cultivar. Both cultivars are selections made by the Jimma Agricultural Research Center and although they have very similar qualities, there are some subtle nuances in the flavour profile.
Tim & Crew