22. June 2020

Discovery Subscription Presents

A continuing shift in Ethiopia

  • This month we’re excited to present two coffees from the Hambela Arifi mill.

  • We visited the Guji region in January this year, and were stunned by its natural beauty.

  • These lots were separated from the rest of the mill’s production due to the varietals the contributing farmers were growing.

  • The coffee trees these farmers have closely resemble modern Bourbon, and have similar round and sweet characteristics.

  • The first coffee is a crisp and aromatic washed lot, with notes of floral bergamot followed by soft and sweet apricot, and a black tea finish.

  • The second coffee is a rather clean and well-processed natural, with softer violet florals followed by tropical and stone fruit complexity.

Subscribe to get this months coffees

Available from the 22nd of June to the 15th of July

1 x coffee

Hambela Arifi - Washed Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Hambela Arifi - Washed Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)
Hambela Arifi - Natural Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 249,00

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1st coffee - Ethiopia

Hambela Arifi - Washed Bourbon

Bergamot, Apricot and Black Tea

(250g / 8.8oz)

2nd coffee - Ethiopia

Hambela Arifi - Natural Bourbon

Violet, Peach and Mango

(250g / 8.8oz)

A continuing shift in Ethiopia

Welcome to this month’s subscription, where we are beginning to see our picks of this year’s East African harvest trickle in. Ethiopia is an incredibly exciting origin for coffee professionals, and not just because of its position as the genetic birthplace of Arabica coffee. Coffee production in Ethiopia is distinct from much of the rest of the world, with very different coffee varietals grown in very different systems, even when compared to neighbouring countries like Kenya. Coffee still grows semi-wild, and in some cases completely wild. Apart from some regions of neighbouring South Sudan, Ethiopia is the only country in which coffee is found growing in this way, and this level of genetic diversity is not seen anywhere else. This means in many regions, small producers still harvest cherries from wild coffee trees growing in high altitude humid forests, especially around Ethiopia’s famous Great Rift Valley.

However, Ethiopia has also been very difficult to work in as a coffee buyer, for several reasons. In 2008, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) was founded, to protect all of Ethiopia’s (mainly agricultural) exports. By law, all coffee had to be exported through the ECX, which meant traceability was lost, and it was almost impossible to secure the same coffee year after year. Under ECX rules, coffee had to be delivered directly to the ‘Coffee Liquoring Authority’ in Addis Ababa to be cupped and graded by government employed cuppers. Coffee is then stripped of all previous information, and presented to buyers with a region and a grade, for example ‘Kochere Grade 1’. Buyers were often not allowed to cup coffees, only being able to examine green samples visually. Occasionally in the know buyers would know which producer or mill was offering a grade 1 coffee to the auction that week and try to get hold of their lots, but this was not so reliable, and the buyer would never ‘officially’ know whether they’d secured the right coffee.

Of course those of us in the speciality industry pushed for change, and in 2017 the ECX announced wholesale changes to the system. Coffees that are traded through the ECX now have electronic traceability information attached, normally down to the precise mill the coffee was processed at, along with cup score, moisture content and water activity readings. Excitingly for us though, the minimum size of lot that can be purchased through the exchange has been lowered from 100 bags to a single bag, and buyers are now allowed to make agreements with privately owned washing stations outside the ECX auction system. This allows small to medium sized roasters and buyers like us to enter the game, exporting small traceable lots, or even experimental processes, through relationships with trusted partners.

One of these partners is the Belgian-based coffee buyer Cup A Lot. They have been buying coffee from the Hambela Arifi station in the Guji zone for several years now, and have taken full advantage of the closer relationships allowed by the new system. The fertile soils of the Hambela Woreda, in the South-Western Guji zone, combine with climate conditions and high altitude to create ideal conditions for producing high quality coffees. This is true of many stations in this part of the country, but the uncharted territory created by the new Ethiopian system requires mutual trust and goals in order to navigate effectively. For example, the mill owners recently discovered that several of the more than 5000 farmers delivering to the mill have trees that closely resemble modern Bourbon varietal plant stock, both physically and in the cup. Cup A Lot asked if they could purchase a separated lot consisting of coffee only from these farmers, if they were to offer a monetary bonus above what they normally pay. The managers at Hambela Arifi were happy to oblige, and we’re excited to have played our small part in the chain of these delicious coffees. The washed lot is a slightly rounder take on the classic washed Ethiopia profile, with bergamot florals followed by soft apricot, and a crisp tea-like finish. The natural lot is wilder, yet clean and elegant, with softened violet florals, fresh peach, and rich mango.

Subscribe to get this months coffees

Available from the 22nd of June to the 15th of July

1 x coffee

Hambela Arifi - Washed Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 169,00

2 x coffee

Hambela Arifi - Washed Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)
Hambela Arifi - Natural Bourbon (250g / 5.3oz)

Kr. 249,00
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Seeking out close relationships

Being able to find this level of transparency and traceability in this iconic origin is still a new and exciting experience, and one we’re going to continue to explore here at La Cabra. Seeking out close relationships, experimenting with varietals and processing, and fostering mutually beneficial cooperation are our aims for the next few years. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more incoming lots from Ethiopia, we are seeing some exciting results for this year’s crop.

Stay bright and curious - John Gibson

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Two Unique Coffees Every Month

La Cabra is a modern coffee roastery based out of Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark. Every month we ship out two unique coffee experiences and provide insight into how these coffees were grown and processed by talented producers.

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