At the Borboya washing station in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, local farmers sell their prized heirloom coffee beans to be hand-sorted, processed, and prepared for export. Nearly 700 smallholder farmers from throughout the region contributed to this month’s selection from Kuma Coffee.
Small farmers whose plots average a little less than two acres bring their coffee cherries to the private washing station called Borboya. Here the ripe-only hand-picked coffee fruit is skin-stripped and the remaining fruit-coated beans allowed to ferment for around 36 hours, depending on the weather. When the fruit coating is ready to come off, the beans are washed in concrete channels with wooden rakes. The beans are then sorted and dried on raised racks for about 10 days.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sampling the Ethiopia Borboya, from Kuma Coffee in Seattle, Washington, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm/factory: Borboya Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 – 1950 meters above sea level
cultivar(s): Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Ethiopia Borboya is soft, delicate, and perfumey, but it is also bright and lively. Vibrant and crisp, with scents of lemon rind, strawberry, black tea leaves, vanilla, jasmine, and ginger.
Immediately post-brew this coffee is already bright and intensely flavorful, and I can tell that it’s going to be a real treat from the very first sip. A soft vanilla and almond milk silkiness spreads over the tongue first, relaxing and soothing the palate before making the taste buds stand at attention with incredibly juicy notes of peach and nectarine, while a flutter of juniper, jasmine, and Darjeeling tea aromatics play out in the finish of each sip.
As the coffee cools off the sweetness of the peach and nectarine intensifies so much that it starts tasting a little tart; the tartness is made even more mouth-puckeringly prevalent by a sugary lemon acidity. This isn’t a zesty lemon acidity, mind you – it’s a sweet lemon acidity; it’s not the acidity of a freshly squeezed lemon or lemon peel, it’s the acidity of a Savannah Smile. Further flavors of apricot, pear, strawberry, cantaloupe, powdered sugar, and ginger round out the bottom of the cup and make for a crisp, satisfying finish.
Light body; supple mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
It has been far too long since the last time Kuma Coffee graced the Table with their presence, but their Ethiopia Borboya made the wait worth it. This coffee was pretty damn near perfect. Flavorful, dynamic, balanced, clean, and utterly delicious.
What really struck me about the Borboya was how clean, crystalline, bright, and delicate it was for such a flavor-forward coffee. You know a lot of times, when a coffee is really saturated with flavor, all of its individual notes can get concentrated or muddled together, making it something of a “nondescript tropical fruit medley.” The Borboya, on the other hand, had a lot of things happening all at once and it was very easy to taste how each component comprised the whole.
And that’s as much a testament to the quality of the coffee as it is to Mark’s roasting.
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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.