Jasmine, Peach and Tangerine
This lot of Gesha 1931 was grown on the Narsha plot of Gesha Village, reaching up to almost 2000 masl at its highest point. The cherries were then dried in a careful natural process, using raised African beds. The coffee is dried in very thin layers, so almost no fermentation is allowed to occur on the beds. This is one of the reasons why such a clean cup is maintained in this lot. This incredible raw material, grown in its native wild forest, combined with careful processing, creates an intense and wild flavour experience. Clear jasmine aromatics are followed by heavier stone fruit character, mainly peach, and a round and fresh acidity of tangerine.
Gesha Village lies in the Bench Maji zone of South Western Ethiopia, not far from the border with South Sudan. This area, in the high altitude humid forests where the Great Rift Valley passes into South Sudan, is thought to be the birthplace of Arabica coffee, and is still home to great genetic diversity. Here at Gesha Village however, one varietal sits in the spotlight; Geisha. Adam Overton and Rachel Samuel first travelled to Ethiopia in 2007 to make a documentary about its unique method of coffee production, and fell in love with the country. They decided during that short trip that they would eventually move to the country to start producing coffee themselves. They found a 471 hectare plot of land in Bench Maji, further west than we normally find specialty coffee in Ethiopia, in a remote area of untouched high altitude forest. The wild forest remained as coffee was planted, maintaining as much as possible of the biodiversity so crucial to the Ethiopian mode of production, while also providing ample shade for the fragile Geisha trees. This isn’t just any Geisha however. Gesha Village is located only around 20 km from the Gori Gesha forest, where the hallowed varietal of the same name was first isolated by British researchers in 1931. When preparing Gesha Village, the team behind the project trekked into the forest and gathered seeds from the wild coffee trees growing there, selecting those that genetically resembled the original 1931 expedition Geisha.
When we choose to share a coffee, it’s because we feel it showcases clear character in the cup, the origin of which can be traced back through the coffee chain. We are inspired not only by sharing this carefully created raw material, but by conveying how each step of the coffee’s journey has led to what you find in your cup, be it terroir, varietal, post-harvest processing, or something else entirely.
We roast with a gentle touch in order to unveil these characteristics with the highest level of clarity. Be it a dense, high-grown heirloom varietal from Ethiopia, or a lower-grown Bourbon from Brazil, we always aim for this same clarity, and write taste notes as an introduction as to what to expect from the raw material. We would expect higher acidity and a lower body from Ethiopia, so would use notes such as citrus fruits and tea to describe this. From Brazil, we are more likely to use notes such as chocolate and nuts; to convey the heavy, sweet character and pleasant dryness we expect from lower-grown coffees.
The natural, or dry process, is the traditional process, going back generations. When accomplished in a controlled and careful manner, dry processed coffees can produce flavour experiences not found in wet processed coffees, deep fruits and florals, normally with heavier mouthfeel and lower acidity. The cherries are first sorted, and then laid out on in thin layers (2-6 cm) on raised drying beds. These are almost always used for high quality naturals, as they aid airflow around the coffee as it dries, enabling more even drying. It is very important that coffees are sorted very carefully early on in the drying process, as all of the cherries quickly turn dark brown, making it impossible to separate under and overripe cherries. The cherries are turned frequently to avoid mold formation or over-fermentation, until they reach a moisture content of below 20%, and the outer cherry layer shrinks and blackens. This process takes between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more