Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia is easily one of our favorite coffee growing areas in the world. Almost any coffee roaster will gush about how coffee originally evolved in Ethiopia, and most of us gravitate to Yirgacheffe's characteristic refreshing, fruity, delicately citrus, and intensely floral flavors. Even in a region known for truly extraordinary coffees, Zelelu stands out, and we couldn't be happier to roast this coffee for the third year running.
Most of the names of our Ethiopian coffees refer to a cooperative or washing station that collects coffee from hundreds - if not thousands - of producers. Since Ethiopian coffee is usually grown on small family plots, it has rarely made financial sense to export single families' coffee.
Zelelu, however, is the name of a single family. Over the last few years, the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) has undertaken the hard work to identify the few YCFCU members whose coffees shine above the YCFCU's already incredibly high standards. These model farmers not only receive better pricing for their lots, but are given the responsibility of acting as mentors for other YCFCU farmers, with the goal of increasing quality and coffee prices for the entire group. The Zelelu family is one of the model families in the Addis Katema cooperative, which is based around the town of Wenago.
Zelelu Ararso (husband), Kasech Zelelu (wife), and their family grow exceptional coffee, and with an on-farm wet mill (a rarity in Ethiopia), they're able to manage not just cultivation and picking, but also their coffee's washing and drying. This year's coffee has wonderful florals, a balanced lemon-lime brightness, and is rounded out with sweet honey, peach, and melon flavors. We're happy to have a chance to show off the YCFCU's hard work to advance coffee quality and transparency, and we think you'll love this deliciously refreshing and unique coffee grown by the Zelelu family.
This is our fourth year working with the Long Miles Coffee Project in the Muramvya province of Burundi, and we couldn’t be happier to roast Colline Ninga three years running .
Burundi has produced coffee for quite some time, but the country's progression towards producing high quality specialty coffee was interrupted in the 1990s and early 2000s by political unrest and ethnic violence spilling over the border from Rwanda, during and after that country's genocide. Despite this, and the challenges of being a poor, landlocked country, farmers from Burundi are successfully improving their coffee each and every year, and specialty coffee's higher prices seem to have a major impact on quality of life in the country's coffee growing regions. Moreover, we love the flavors of a great coffee from Burundi.
Colline Ninga is grown by small farmers in Bukeye area of the Muramvya province, and produced by the Long Miles Coffee Project. Long Miles is a project founded by Ben Carlson, an American living in Burundi. Ben, upon seeing the difficulties Muramvya farmers faced, built several washing stations in the region, and has worked with area farmers to help them fetch better prices. By working with the farmers to develop stringent quality practices at the farm level, then washing and milling the coffee with meticulous care, ensure that the coffee is of the highest quality possible. By working with Huckleberry and other roasters in advance of the harvest, the Long Miles Coffee Project is able to pay the farmers a higher price for their coffee than they would receive otherwise
Ninga is a specific hillside community (colline is French for hill), and this coffee comes exclusively from the Long Miles farmers living on that hill. After tasting samples from different hills, and different periods of the harvest, Ninga stood out again this year, along with our other offerings from Gitwe.Colline Ninga has pear and apricot flavors, complemented with red currant and citrusy brightness. It also has a subtle cinnamon-like sweet spiciness, and we like to think of it as a slightly subtler variation of a classic Kenyan flavor profile: bright, slightly savory, and deeply sweet. It's a wonderful coffee, and we're happy to support the great work of the Long Miles Coffee project in the Bukeye area of Burundi. View full product details
We've been purchasing coffee from the Long Miles Coffee Project in the Muramvya province of Burundi for four years now, and last year we loved our first natural-processed fruitbomb from the Gitwe hill community. So, we brought it back for 2017, and we have a bit more to roast for this year.
Naturals - which are dried in the coffee cherry instead of washed of their fruit first - are tough to produce well, and easy to mess up. And, they're a rarity in Burundi - there are only a few grower groups producing non-washed coffee. Luckily for us, Long Miles first naturals last year were a home run, and this year's might be even better.
We've been loving our washed lot from Gitwe, and this natural lot is a banger, too. It bursts with the juicy strawberry we've come to expect from the best Ethiopian naturals, but also packs some of the hallmarks of our favorite washed Burundis. We taste a bit of sweet-savory complexity, honey, and milk chocolate flavors to complement the fruit-forward strawberry and red grape sweetness.View full product details
Esperanza de Garzón is a limited release coffee for us, grown by Nelson Andrés at his farm Finca La Esperanza in La Trinidad de Garzón, Huila, Colombia. We source some of our favorite Colombian and Central American coffees through Caravela Coffee, a Colombia-based exporter and importer. We think they're responsible for some of the most dependable quality in the industry, and every once in a while, they offer us a single farmer coffee that stands out from his or her growers cooperative.
This year, Nelson Andrés produced one of those special coffees, and we think it's a great example of just how bright and clean Colombian coffees can be. Señor Andres grows only Caturra variety coffee - an increasing rarity in Colombia, where most farmers have planted their land with the disease-resistant Castillo variety. Castillo can taste great, too, but pure Caturra can produce an incredibly clean and sweet cup, especially at high altitudes like Finca La Esperanza's 1700 meters above sea level.
Additionally, Nelson Andres washes and dries his coffee on farm, using raised, parabolic beds to slow down the drying process, and covering his drying area to ensure that the coffee is protected from the elements. Drying is one of the most important stages in coffee production, and the care taken during this step is one of the key ingredients in Esperanza de Garzón's lovely flavors. We're currently in the planning stages of a Colombia trip with Caravela, and are looking forward to seeing Finca la Esperanza and it's parabolic drying beds firsthand.
We taste green grape, spice, and candied citrus, and have enjoyed using Esperanza de Garzón both filter-brewed and as espresso. We only have a little bit of this coffee, and it won't be around too long.View full product details
After a short break, Colombia is back in the Huckleberry roasting lineup. We love the balance of approachability and jaw-dropping flavors that great Colombian coffees can exhibit, and we've been excited for Matambo since we tasted our first type sample from the 2015 harvest. This 2016 crop harvest, just landed in the US, is an awesome example of the crowd-pleasing, but complex flavors we love from Colombia. We taste juicy pear, raw sugar sweetness, juicy and bright pomegranate, and almond pastry.
Matambo is a new coffee for us, grown by the 82 farmer Asociación de Cafeteros El Desarollo in Gigante de Huila, a town named after an enormous mountain perched just outside of the city center. While many growers associations wash and dry their coffee at a centralized mill, each of Matambo's growers washes and dries his or her own coffee on-farm, which sets it apart from other cooperatives. Individual processing can create challenges for consistency and quality, but all of the farmers who contribute to Matambo are well-practiced in proper fermentation, washing, and drying techniques, which shows in the sweet, clean cup.
We think Matambo has something for everyone. Plenty of traditional coffee flavors and sweetness for those who prefer a more approachable or milk-friendly mug, but also packing juicy fruit flavors and high-end brightness to please folks who typically brew East African coffees. We have a feeling this is going to be a top take-home bag for us in the roasting room over the next few months.View full product details