Violet, Lychee and Strawberry
This lot of Gesha 1931 was grown on the Oma plot of Gesha Village, reaching up to 2040 masl and producing some of the most aromatic coffees on the farm. To create this lot, they processed ripe cherries from Oma on the first of April 2020 using a carbonic maceration process, creating a rich and ripe take on the normally rather clean and crisp Geisha flavour profile. To accomplish this, full cherries were placed into clean plastic barrels equipped with airlocks and valves to allow the attachment of a gas cylinder. In order to accomplish a full carbonic maceration, the barrels were sealed and hooked up to carbon dioxide cylinders through the valves at the bottom of the barrels, slowly bubbling carbon dioxide through the layers of fermenting cherry and removing oxygen through the airlock at the top of the barrel. This means the entire fermentation occured in an oxygen-free environment, creating one of the few full carbonic macerations we have seen in coffee. The team at Gesha Village, along with other producers we have spoken with, feel that this leads to a slightly cleaner cup. After 41 hours of fermentation, the cherries were dried using raised African beds in very thin layers, so almost no fermentation is allowed to occur on the beds. After day 15, the drying cherries were shaded, lengthening the drying time to 33 days, aiding in evenness and allowing more complexity to come through in the cup. This incredible raw material, grown in its native wild forest, combined with careful processing, creates an intense, yet clean and ripe flavour experience. Softened violet florals are followed by soft lychee and a ripe strawberry sweetness.
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 Carbonic Maceration process has been used in the wine industry for several decades, particularly in the Beaujolais region, producing fruit-driven, juicy structured wines in a very controlled manner. The application of this process in coffee is only a few years old, but has the same goals. Carbonic maceration is a complex process, requiring precise measurement and control of fermentation variables. Cherries are sealed in tanks without access to oxygen for an extended period with constant monitoring and cataloging of PH, temperature, and CO2 levels. Ambient temperatures are also monitored and controlled to ensure linearity in the processing. After the required time inside the tanks, or when the required pH is reached, coffee is then removed and dried, most often on raised beds or in mechanical driers