Buku Organic Ethiopia Limited Release
- July 2017
- Written by : Geoff Watts
Vice President of Coffee / Green Coffee Buyer
Words are not enough.
Explaining the allure of Ethiopian coffee is a difficult thing to do, much in the same way that it is impossible to communicate the value and visceral impact of masterful artwork using only some combination of letters, even for the most talented of poets. That’s just the way it is—we don’t have a language that is capable of capturing the emotional intensity and profoundly soulful feeling that we experience when we witness exquisite beauty.
Fortunately there is a shortcut: when you taste one there is no need for supplemental narrative; your senses know what to do and understanding comes quickly. It begins with the fragrance. A fresh ground sample or freshly brewed cup of this coffee is downright pretty, with soft and welcoming tea-like fragrances that hint at what is to come. Once the coffee has cooled to drinking temperature the delicate fruit acids and fresh floral traits present themselves clearly and in abundance, never coming across as aggressive because of the ever-present sweetness that envelopes all that flavor. This coffee is eloquent, effusive and unforgettable: coffee’s answer to the finest champagne.
Our Tikur Anbessa project is located in a sliver of Ethiopia’s Guji zone called Hambela Wamena that is home to the sister villages of Benti Nenqa and Buku. Those villages, in turn, are made up of hamlets called kebeles in Amharic. For three consecutive seasons, we have been working with more than 700 farmers in a handful of kebeles across Benti Nenqa and Buku. Most share some fundamental character traits with those from neighboring areas where we also source coffee—the growing conditions are very similar, and farmers are mostly selecting from the same basket of varieties. The post-harvest processing, being handled meticulously by METAD, is another common trait—it is top notch across the board. But the nuances that make individual lots distinct from one another come about as a result of small differences between kebeles in microclimate, soil microbiology, harvest details and other variables that reflect the environmental and human contributions to the production of these coffees.
Sometimes, while sorting through harvest lots from the various communities in Hambela Wamena we come across a standout that exhibits an especially pronounced sweetness or particularly noteworthy flavor trait that catches our attention and calls out for a spot on the shelf. Our second limited release for this year, following the outstanding Alaka coffee that sold out in just two months, comes from Buku (Boo-koo). It comes fully loaded with both citrus and stone fruit taste notes, elegant floral nuances and a honey-like sweetness to tie it all together. Yum.