Werka Natural, Ethiopia - Espresso Roast
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This lot is made up of coffees grown near the kebele (local village) of Werka (pronounced “wer-kah”), which is located in the Nensebo woreda (administrative district), in Ethiopia’s West Arsi Zone. The coffee was processed using the natural method at Gara Kone washing station, one of twenty owned and managed by Testi Coffee, a family-owned company founded by Mr Faysel A. Yonis.
Sitting at an impressive 2,020 meters above sea level, Gara Kone produces exceptional natural coffees. The washing station currently employs around 200 workers, who process some 1.5 million coffee cherries each year. During harvest, this freshly picked coffee cherry is delivered daily by some 1,000 independent outgrowers to the kebele of Refisa, where Gara Kone is located.
The majority of the families that contribute to this lot farm organically on tiny plots of land, which average just 2–5 hectares in size. Coffee is their main cash crop and grows alongside food crops of corn, grain and bananas, under the shade of native Birbira, Wanza, and Acacia trees. The average elevation of the farms in this region is very high – around 1,950–2,150m above sea level – and this, combined region’s cool temperatures, is ideal for the slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile.
This coffee was processed using the natural method; a complex process requiring a high level of attention to detail in order to be done well. Ethiopian coffee has been processed this way by generations of farmers who have mastered the art of the natural method through centuries of tradition and experience.
Testi Coffee ensures that a great deal of care is taken in the processing and drying of their naturals, and they aim for all of their exportable coffee to be specialty quality grade. This coffee is classified as Grade 1, indicating that a lot of effort has been put into the selection, grading and drying to ensure the very highest quality coffee is produced.
Each day, carefully hand-picked coffee cherries are delivered to the wet mill and are meticulously hand-sorted prior to processing to remove unripe, overripe, or damaged fruit, in order to enhance the quality and sweetness of the cup.
The coffee is then graded by weight and spread evenly on raised African beds (screens) to dry in the sun. Initially, it is laid very thinly and turned regularly to ensure consistent drying and prevent over-fermentation. This is done very carefully to avoid damage to the fruit.
After a few days, when the coffee has reached 25% humidity—this is called the “raisin stage”—the layers of coffee are gradually increased. Careful attention and control during this drying phase ensures the coffee is stable and that a clean and balanced cup profile is achieved. The coffee is turned constantly whilst drying to ensure that it dries evenly and consistently. At midday, the coffee is covered to protect it from full sun. It is also covered overnight to prevent damage from morning dew.
Once the coffee reaches the optimum moisture level (usually after 15–18 days), it is hulled and rested in bags in parchment until it is ready for export.