We have a lot to say about the new natural process Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Wote. Freshen your beverage, exchange your contacts for your reading glasses & snuggle into your chair. This coffee qualifies as magical – you won’t want to miss this…
Some coffees don’t just hint at the flavors within, but smack you over the head with them. If you’ve never tried a natural-processed Ethiopian coffee before, try the Wote Konga. If you are familiar with this type of coffee, the Wote Konga will not disappoint, bursting with sweet fruit flavors. This is one of the most delicious natural-processed Ethiopian coffees we have ever had the pleasure of drinking.
Wote Konga is an area within Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia. To make this coffee, 600 small-hold farmers, including many members of the respected Worka Cooperative, carefully select only the ripest coffee cherries and dry them on raised beds. Afterward, it is carefully sorted, keeping only the best beans in the lot. This extra care is what makes this coffee so remarkably clean and uniform in the cup.
Historically, Yirgacheffe has not produced many natural-processed coffees, although the surrounding region of Sidamo is known for them. In the last decade, however, some beautiful natural coffees from Yirgacheffe have been produced, often with the same high quality expected of the washed coffees from this renowned region. The Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX) now has a category for these coffees as well, in which the Wote Konga meets the highest grading standards (Grade 1) .
Most coffees in the world are of the washed type, meaning the fruit of the coffee cherry is removed from the beans before drying. After removing the bulk of the cherry, the beans are fermented for one to three days to break down any remaining fruit, and the coffee is finally washed clean before drying. Victrola’s other Yirgacheffe from the Kochere district (scored a respectable 92 on coffeereview.com) is a perfect example of a washed coffee.
In the contrasting natural process, the beans are dried within the cherry, as in the Wote Konga natural. This simpler process produces a very different flavor profile than the washed method, and at its best lends to strong fruit flavors, particularly berry-like flavors. The natural process is generally less controlled and consistent compared to the washed method, but when it is done carefully the coffees can be amazing.
The very high elevation (5900-7200 ft) and heirloom varietals in Yirgacheffe lend to the light and juicy qualities, while the dry processing imparts the intense fruit character of blueberry and honeydew. At Victrola, we are roasting this coffee to a light level, bringing all these components into balance. In the end the cup you’ll find lively, lush, intensely sweet and fruity flavors with a silky smooth milk chocolate-like body.
If you are curious to explore how profoundly different the washed and natural processing methods can be, try our roast of the washed Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere next to the natural Yirgacheffe Wote Konga. -the Victrola Roasters
I can hear you saying to yourself, “I am not about to buy 2 bags of beans just so I can conduct a palate-discovering experiment in my kitchen!“. Well, if you were a devout coffee snob, like I know you are on the inside, you’d invite your comrades over to hold a private coffee cupping using your mom’s china she gifted you when you moved to Seattle. After an hour of silently sniffing & slurping the two coffees, you and your ultra-caffeinated buddies would discuss the many ways the natural & washed processed Yirgacheffes are similar and how they differ. Your OCD friend would take a lot of notes. After the discussion, you’d request that your guests each compose 450 word essays that compare & contrast the opposing coffees. These will be shared at the next meeting where you taste cave-aged versus young cheddars. Oh yes – I know you!
For the rest of us, there’s another option: you can taste these two wonderful Yirgacheffe coffees as well as all the other coffees Victrola offers at a free public coffee cupping at the roastery & café on Wednesdays at 11am or at the Beacon Hill café the first Sunday of the month at noon.
Either way, doesn’t it sound fun to conduct your own coffee cupping at home? Maybe we’ll blog about that… A good place to start if you’re interested is one of these cuppings at the cafes!
The Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Wote Konga is available online or as French Press and Pour over in the cafés. Retail $17.25/12oz