Ethiopia Gelana Abaya Natural, one of my favorite coffees of 2012, is back in Chicago for a second year thanks to Halfwit Coffee Roasters.
Since 2008, much (if not most) of Ethiopia’s coffee goes anonymously through the privately owned, government warehoused Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). Aside from cooperatives and large estates, coffees are sold through the ECX to exporters and in the processes rebranded by region.
Or…more or less by region.
This lot was marked “Gelana Abaya”, which used to be a district of the Oromia region in the southern zone of Borena; now, Gelana and Abaya are separate districts, but coffee from them can be marked as Gelana Abaya. Most likely, this area is nestled between Lake Abaya on the west and the town of Yirgacheffe on the East.
Unfortunately we don’t know who produced this great coffee. The ECX does promise, at least, that the farmer gets paid 80% of the final export price, which means (s)he probably got paid well for it.
Unfortunately, though, we can’t be sure.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Gelana Abaya Natural, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kersa, Gelana Abaya, Oromia, Ethiopia
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: natural, patio dried
Opening the bag of Gelana Abaya is like waiting for a ticking time bomb to go off. I can smell the aroma seeping through already and I know that, as soon as it’s open, the aroma is going to explode outwards. Ohhhhhh yeeeeaaaaahhhhhhh……. No—more like, “OH YEAH!!!” Super intense fruit and floral aromatics boom out of the bag. Yeah man, this coffee ain’t gonna mess around—I can already tell. Rose hips and cherry blossoms and berries, berries, BERRIES.
Maybe a ticking time bomb isn’t a great simile. No way, this coffee is like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and just taking a small whiff of the open bag is enough to induce face-melting awesomeness. Wait—in this simile, does that make me a Nazi? Okay, not a great comparison. Let’s stick with the ticking time bomb.
Diving into the first few sips of this coffee and the flavor is every bit as incredi-mazing as the aroma. It’s every bit as much of a fruit bomb with big time notes of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, grapes, watermelon, lemon, peaches, acai berry juice, pomegranate, starfruit, guava, mango, and papaya.
And alllllll of that before collapsing into a mellow base of citrus, coconut, and palm sugar.
Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
There are so many things I could say about this coffee. I think, though, it’s enough to say that if there ever was one natural that has all the attributes of the best naturally-processed coffees in the world without any of the fermentation and over-pulpiness that often accompany them, the Ethiopia Gelana Abaya, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters, is that natural.
This coffee is absolutely incredible. Massive fruit bomb flavors and absolutely crystalline clarity will have you thinking snuck some fruit punch into your coffee mug; that is, of course, if your brain isn’t completely fried from the sensory overload that is this coffee. I think the Instagram tasting notes from incandescentbnlb say it best.
Last year, Halfwit carried this same coffee and it was easily one of the best coffees I had in 2012. It’s really good to taste that the Gelana Abaya hasn’t lost its edge since then.
You’ll want to order this one while you can, cuz bippity boppity—it good.
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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.