• Werka, Ethiopia

    Well isn’t this a surprising cup of fun? Nicely vibrant and playful without trading off maturity, complexity, and balance in the cup.

    When they think ‘Ethiopia’ they typically don’t stray far from some fairly tired cliches of ‘tea-like’, ‘bergamot’, and ‘jasmine’ — notes which would be extremely welcome if they appeared in the cup as often as they do on the label.

    This coffee brings something else entirely.

    For us, it shares more in common with some of the more elegant, western-Kenyan coffees of Mt. Elgon than many of the ‘lemon black tea’ coffees typical of the Sidamo region. In Werka, you’ll find a strong central theme reminiscent of redcurrant jelly, flanked on one side by a syrupy, pink lemonade-like sweetness and a concentrated red fruit note on the other.

    While this coffee is grown and harvested by around 750 smallholder farmers, the cherries are processed and dried into export-ready green beans by a private company, owned by Mr. Faysel A. Yonis. This set up is similar to how their friend Aime Gahizi produces another favourite coffee of ours in Rwanda. (Yes, the coffee is Gitesi, for those playing at home).

    It’s by no means a perfect model, but where owners are quality-driven and able to incentivise and reward growers for only picking the ripest of cherries, they do tend to see a noticeable uplift in the quality in the cup. Couple this with secondary payments (a kind of profit share) going back to growers, and they feel like we’re on the right track.

    But enough waffle, though I could go on all day. We’re roasting this coffee on the lighter end of the spectrum — what they call ‘filter coffee’ — to preserve the vibrancy and fun, while maintaining the sweetness and depth. This means it’s best for brewing on pour over, plunger, batch brew, AeroPress, (or similar).

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