Today’s coffee, the Ethiopia Janbar, is a really tricky one to find much background information about; it’s another one of those difficult-to-trace ECX coffees. Here’s what I could find, courtesy of the importer, Coffee Shrub.
“Janbar” means “sun” in Amharic, and these bags came in with the name “Sunny Yirga Cheffe.” Plus it’s a natural process coffee, so being bright and sunny makes sense.
We do know it’s from Yirga Cheffe, which helps, but all of the washing station information is stripped away upon submitting their coffees (there’s been work on a “Geo-Certification” program, where station info could be tracked for each lot, but that’s still in trial stages). That, of course, is one pretty big problem with the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange. But a couple benefits of using this route is that you know the farmers who submitted this lot were rewarded for the high quality, were paid accordingly, and paid up front. This is key for many farmers as often sales through cooperatives involve an initial payment, and then second payment once the coffee is sold; having cash up front is incredibly useful for these smallholder farmers to make improvements on their end.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Janbar, from Bodka Coffee Company in Emelle, Alabama. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1250 – 1600 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
method: Hario V60
grind: 17, Preciso
coffee: 32 g
water: 480 mL
pour: 2:00 concentric pulse pour
The aroma of this Ethiopia Janbar, I must say, isn’t what I was expecting it would be when I saw that it is a natural Yirg. I was expecting big berry bombs and intense floral aromatics and exclamation points(!)! While berries and flowers are present, they’re not intense at all, and the exclamation points have been exchanged for an ellipsis. There is a touch of roast in the aroma, too, which makes me think the darker profile might have taken some of the edge off (and replaced it with a roasty edge, which isn’t as sharp as it is fuzzy).
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, the first thing I notice is that roast; it really isn’t that bad, but it is the first thing I notice. Pushing forward, the coffee has a really interesting profile up front that, again, isn’t anything like the natural Yirg profile that I’m used to. No, instead this Janbar has elements of earth and wood and pine needles up front, lazily floating in on a river of syrup and muscavado sugar.
As the coffee cools, tropical fruit flavors do start popping up; but they’re dull and faded; not nearly as intense as I thought they’d be. Guava, pineapple, raspberry, currant, golden raisin, and agave nectar bring in a pretty resonant and tangy lemon acidity finish.
Medium body; syrupy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
I had a really tough time with Bodka Coffee’s Ethiopia Janbar and I can’t help but wonder if that can be chalked up to user error.
Every other description of this particular coffee was “bright, tropically fruity, and intense.” The Janbar I tasted from Bodka, on the other hand, while it did have a few flashes of bright, tropical fruits, was certainly not intense; rather, it was mellow, subdued, and faded. Before looking at other reviews of this one, I actually marveled at the fact that it was a natural Yirg because of the fact that it was so unlike most natural Yirgs I’ve tasted in the past.
It could also be due to the fact, though, that the roast on this one might be a darker than others. While Bodka’s Janbar isn’t a roasty coffee per se, there is an element of roastiness in its profile.
Of course, none of this is to say that this was a *bad* coffee; because it’s not at all. It’s just not what I expected it to be.
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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.