Natural processed coffees from Yirgacheffe coffees are very popular now have a huge fan base for their bold, vibrant, juicy, fruit driven flavour profiles. This acts as a real counterpoint to the more traditional washed coffees from this region famed for their floral aromatics and tea like mouth
Terroir and process play an equal role in delivering this full on flavour profile. The region has a diversity of indigenous coffee varieties that make Yirgacheffe coffee taste like no other. In terms of processing the method has more similarity to that of other growing regions. Ripe cherries are delivered to the processing station. After sorting into different qualities they are then carefully dried on raised beds - initially the coffee is turned every hour or two until the initial moisture content is reduced, before the turning pattern then slows down after the first few days until a stable moisture content is reached. Natural coffees then need to rest to reduce astringency and improve the cup quality before being milled a minimum of two months after picking.
With the natural coffees the retention of the coffee fruit pulp during drying changes the flavour and taste profile. The best natural Yirgacheffes, like this grade one, have a basket full of very ripe fruits including, blueberry, strawberry, cherry and even mango dominating the cup. The taste balance is very different in natural processing when compared to washed process coffees too because more of coffee's naturally occurring sugars are retained. This means sweetness is more prominent in the taste balance which works harmoniously with the tropical fruit flavour profile.
We've looked at a lot of Ethiopian natural coffees this year and this one really stood out as an excellent offering. It was sourced through the large centralised EXC platform that deals with most coffee in Ethiopia, and is the first time Artisan have bought coffee from this zone, just to the south-west of Yirga Cheffe town. We have kept the roast light to preserve the clarity of cup and let the ripe fruit flavours roll out, particularly blueberry, raspberry and mango. Delicate floral aromas of elderflower begin to sparkle as the coffee cools and a black grape acidity balances this very sweet coffee together with a delicious, long lasting finish.