This week's Spotlight is on our newest Ethiopian, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Lake Abaya.
Unlike Ethiopia Harrar and Organic Ethiopia Natural Lake Abaya, our new Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is a washed, or wet processed, coffee. The process is complex, but basically, instead of spreading the coffee cherries outside to dry in the sun, the cherries are soaked in water to remove the fruit. Once the fruit is soaked enough, which can take from a few hours to a few days, more water is used to wash the now fermented fruit off the seed. The seeds are then dried before the parchment is removed to reveal the green coffee beans inside.
Natural processing is the original way to get coffee beans from the fruit. Water processing was developed later. It's more expensive and uses more water, yet most coffee these days comes from washed beans. There are two reasons for this. Water processing results in more consistent flavor in brewed coffee and it allows the lively notes in the coffee beans to shine through.
Also called “brightness,” or “acidity,” the lively notes in washed coffee can range from the intense lemon brightness of some Kenyan coffees to the soft berry notes in a good Costa Rican. In Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, the lively notes are floral, like the jasmine in jasmine tea.
Those lively floral notes are the reason washed Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Lake Abaya is one of our favorite coffees. At a light (City) roast level, the coffee is smooth and light bodied with sweetly floral aroma backed up by rich chocolate and a hint of spice. The flavor is very lively, with soft, lemon blossom brightness that melts into coffee candy sweetness and a rich chocolate finish. The rich sweetness is reminiscent of good Kona coffee, but that spark of floral brightness is the hallmark of coffee from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia.
Though we prefer this coffee at a light roast level, it’s high enough grown to also take darker roast levels well. At a medium roast level (Full City or Vienna), the floral notes become sweeter and the chocolate richness increases. At a dark, (Northern Italian) roast level, the coffee brews into a rich, sweet cup with bold cocoa notes.
Washed Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Lake Abaya doesn't have the complex dried fruit notes of its naturally processed cousins. However, if you're a coffee lover who prefers coffee with a good, clean coffee flavor bolstered by chocolate richness and brightened by soft, floral notes, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Lake Abaya is the coffee for you.
Do you prefer your coffee beans washed or naturally processed? If you have an opinion, please join the conversation and share your experience on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your thoughts with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast
*To learn more about the wet processing of coffee beans, click here.