Here at Servant, we’ve become big fans of washed Ethiopian coffees over the years. As our taste in coffee has evolved, so has our appreciation of the nuance and complexity that these coffees bring to the table.
The profile of Ethiopian coffees varies based on a number of factors, including variety, process, and microregion. As a general rule of thumb, natural processed coffees will have much more pronounced fruit and deep chocolate tones, often with a bit of a winey characteristic and a syrupy body. Washed coffees will generally be lighter in body with more pronounced acidity and can often present as a more complex experience.
If you’re a fan of washed Ethiopia coffees, then you’ve probably heard the word ‘Werka’. A village in the Nensebo district of West Arsi, Oromia, this high-altitude region of Ethiopia produces some incredible coffees. Nearly 850 smallholder family farmers surrounding the Werka village deliver freshly picked coffee to Testi’s Nensebo washing station, with each farmer cultivating an average of 2-5 hectares (5-12 acres) of certified organic coffee. Unlike in many other coffee-producing regions, the farmers typically pick their own coffee and immediately transport it to the Nensebo station for processing.
For washed coffees, the cherries are depulped within 8 hours of picking to avoid any natural fermentation. The mucilage covered coffee is allowed to ferment in water for 36 to 48 hours in the fermentation tanks, and then the coffee is put through canals of moving water and manually cleaned. After fully washing, the coffee is laid out to dry on raised beds under shade for 5-7 days. Once fully dry, it is transported to nearby dry storage to rest in parchment until the coffee is ready to be sent to the dry mill for final preparation.
Named after one of the main languages spoken in the region, Afaan Oromoo does not disappoint those looking for complexity. As is unique to washed Ethiopian coffees, the experience starts with pronounced sweet lime acidity and florality that we can only compare to lime sorbet. Mellowing out into the delicate aromatics of honeydew, the experience then finishes with the bright, rich sweetness and aftertaste of limoncello. Injifannii!