Lemma Edeto recovered his farm from the Derg regime in the 1970ss. His sons, Haile and Nigusse, now run the farm and all of the coffee processing. They hold full control over every aspect from its picking to drying to milling. Their farm is the highest altitude farm in the Limu region and is covered in old growth shade trees and natural springs. In 2014 Nigusse and Haile won the prestigious African Taste of Harvest Competition awarded by the African Fine Coffee Association.
This is the first lot which Coffee Shrub secured through the Ethiopia Direct Specialty Trade (DST) Auction. DST is a way for smaller lots of high quality to bypass the Coffee Exchange (ECX) where all lots are made anonymous. With the DST we know where the coffee came from and who grew it. Given the importance of direct trade between coffee buyer and the grower, and the general trend of quality-conscious roasters wanting a first-person relationship with their coffee sources, the ECX seems like a step backward, toward coffee as mass commodity.
But in providing the DST bypass, as well as new mechanisms in the coming years for small buyers to deal directly with growers, coops and private groups, they have shown sensitivity to the needs of importers and roasters.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Nigussie Lemma, from Barrington Coffee Company in Lee, Massachusetts, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Mitto Gunim, Limmu Kossa, Ethiopia
farm: Edeto farm
producer: Nigusse and Haile Lemma Edeto
association: DST (ECX)
elevation: 1850 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
The aroma of the Ethiopia Nigussie Lemma is wonderfully sweet and fragrant, featuring stone fruits, berries, and floral scents. It’s not at all the big berry bomb that you’d expect it to be, though, being a natural Yirg and all… If I had been cupping this one blind, I would have assumed it was a washed Ethiopia – it’s much too subtle to be a natural.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I can’t get over how unlike most natural Yirgs this coffee is. It’s on the lighter side of a medium-bodied coffee and it features a vibrant, juicy mouthfeel. That’s not so unique in itself, but this coffee has a stunning clarity, its profile is so clean, and its flavors are so elegant and unlike anything I’ve tasted in natural Yirgs in the past; the absence of a “berry bomb” and fermentation are particularly pleasing to the taste buds. It has the light sugary sweetness of raw cookie dough and bittersweet chocolate chips, the juiciness, of stone fruits and red berries, and the fragrance of hibiscus.
As the cup cools off – also unlike most natural Yirgs – its profile doesn’t completely collapse in the back half. Most naturals (at least most of the ones I’ve had) throw everything they have at your palate immediately post-brew and taste diluted and weak at room temperature. This Ethiopia Nigussie Lemma, on the other hand, has a lot of depth and longevity. The juiciness and liveliness of these fruit flavors really intensify the more the cup cools, giving some clarity to what were generic tasting terms before: apricot, peach, caramelized plum, cranberry, strawberry, nectarine, and pear, with a brilliant, effervescent malic acidity that gushes over the palate and leaves behind a clean, sparkling finish.
Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
I teased this review on Twitter last week, saying:
Is it possible? Can it be? Did @BarringtonCoffe roast the best natural Yirg I’ve EVER had? Too soon to tell, but this Nigussie Lemma is unreal.
— the table (@cornerofthecafe) September 8, 2015
I know, I know, I know… You’re all tired of hearing about my general – not necessarily disdain, but – lack of enthusiasm for naturally processed Yirgacheffes. It’s well-documented on this platform. When I pulled this bag out of the latest Craft Coffee box and saw that it was a natural, I must admit – I rolled my eyes and audibly groaned. But Barrington Coffee really blew me away with this, their Ethiopia Nigussie Lemma.
This coffee is absolutely brimming with brilliant and elegant flavors, and it features a stunning clarity and depth not often found in natural Yirgs. Truly, this Nigussie Lemma is a stunning and special coffee that shouldn’t be missed.
*content courtesy of Coffee Shrub
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.