At Sasaba Washing Station, red cherries are produced in the area surrounding the washing station and are collected from late September until December. Cherries are processed on-site and fermented for about 48-72 hours before they are placed on the drying beds for about 7-8 days. About 350-400 drying-beds are present at the washing station.
The natural coffees are usually dried for 15-20 days. The small farmers that sell their cherries to Sasaba washing station (the exact number of farmers selling their coffee to Sasaba is not known) usually own around 10-15 coffee trees. Besides coffee, they grow sustenance crops like maize and peas.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Sasaba, from Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Oromia, Guji, Yirgacheffe,Ethiopia
farm: Sasaba Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
method: Hario V60
grind: 17, Preciso
coffee: 32 g
water: 322 g
water temp: 201°
pour: 2:00 straight pour
The aroma of the Ethiopia Sasaba is wonderfully fragrant; perfumed, with soft floral and berry nuances. This is a nice surprise; knowing that the coffee is a natural, I was expecting a big blueberry and chocolate bomb, but instead I’m getting the essences of lilac, strawberry, and honey.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I am, again, struck by how delicate and soft this coffee’s profile is. The Sasaba presents itself as a medium-bodied coffee, but one that resides on the lighter side of a medium body. Its mouthfeel is complex, being somewhat creamy thanks to a sweet salted caramel flavor, somewhat juicy with flavors of raisin and golden currant, and somewhat silky because of a tart white grape acidity that shines through, even while the cup is still piping hot; these two textures make for a complex effervescence.
As the coffee cools, its profile becomes all the more complex, presenting a myriad of bittersweet fruit flavors (berry, melon, pommes, and stone fruit) that absolutely dazzle, thanks to the cup’s stunning clarity. The closer to room temperature the coffee gets the more I taste flavors of green grape, pear, apricot, lychee, blackberry, raspberry, and cantaloupe. All of these flavors lift at the end of each sip, finishing crisply, and leave behind a really unique, long lingering aftertaste of basil and honey.
Medium body; effervescent mouthfeel; grape acidity; clean finish.
This coffee was not the coffee I expected it would be.
As you all are, I’m sure, well aware by now, I’m always wary of natural Yirgs being bawdy, full-bodied, fermenty, and placing heavy emphasis on big blueberry bombs; so whenever roasters send them to me to review—I have to admit—I shudder a bit, because it’s very difficult to write up genuinely unbiased opinions of a coffee I am biased toward. I’ve been burned too many times by natural Yirgs!
So when I saw “Natural” brandished on Gaslight Coffee’s Ethiopia Sasaba, I’m not going to lie—I didn’t really want to cup it. This coffee, though… This coffee was everything I want washed Ethiopias to be. The lighter side of a medium body, sparkling clarity, effervescent, sweet, elegant… But it threw just enough wildness at the taste buds to remind me that it was still, indeed, a natural.
Truly, an exceptional coffee.
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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.