This year my very good friends at Passion House Coffee Roasters caught the spirit of the season and released their debut holiday coffee, Winterlude Blend. This blend is comprised of their Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Adado and their Mexico Santa Martha.
This Yirgacheffe coffee comes from the Adado Cooperative washing station in the southeastern Ethiopian highlands within the Gedeo Zone, south of the capital Addis Ababa. The Gedeo people (often referred to in literature as Darasa) are considered to be a culturally and linguistically distinct group. They are bordered by the Sidama in the East, the Alaba in the North, the Burji in the West and the Guji in the South. All of these groups belong to the Eastern Cushitic speaking people, who traditionally occupied the upper reaches of the Rift Valley escarpment in northern Sidamo. Today the Gedeo Zone is one of the most densely populated parts of Ethiopia.
The Gedeo Zone is the main production area for the world famous Yirgacheffe and Sidamo coffees. The Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU), which began in 2002, represents over 50,000 farmers within 24 primary cooperatives. The 1250 member Adado Cooperative is one of these.
Located in the lushly vegetated mountains, members’ coffee farms reside at altitudes between 2000 to 2400 meters above sea level. In this area, the soil is fertile with infrequent erosion due to traditional Gedeo agriculture practices combinbing coffee and enset (aka false banana), both semi-permanent species, as the predominant crops.
The Adado Cooperative is a major success story. As recently as 2005, the cooperative was almost totally defunct without any working equipment to process their coffee. In 2007, a new eco depulper was installed which allowed 25 farmer members to process a small amount of coffee. Over the next three years, membership soared as the co-op implemented these additions to the infrastructure in and around the washing station: repairing roads, purchasing a generator for the depulper, building new drying beds, educating the local farmers about sustainable practices, and offering farmers pre-financing. Adado now produces both exemplary natural processed and washed processed coffees.
Strong cooperation between the farmers, the cooperative and the exporter agent has been vital to the success of this operation.
The country of Mexico has never been a player in the High-End Specialty Coffee world until recently. The perception of many in the industry is that Mexican coffee is mediocre to say the least. This is not entirely true by any means. There is huge potential in Mexican coffee and things will only get better. We’ve been sourcing coffee from the south of Mexico in the state of Chiapas from a couple different cooperatives, Finca Triunfo Verde (FTV), Campesinos Ecologicos de la Sierra Madre de Chiapas (CESMACH), and Comon Yaj Noptic (Comon) this year. The cup quality on these has been solid year after year. Both of these commercialize their coffee through a 3rd party allowing them to do what they do best, produce solid coffee. There is no reason why this area can’t produce great coffee! They have all the conditions such as: heirloom coffee varieties (Bourbon, Typica), great altitude (1200-1750masl), and passionate coffee growers who want to produce high quality micro lots. The location is extremely close to the Guatemala border and Huehuetenango.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Winterlude Blend, from Passion House Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Gedeo, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia // Sierra Cuxtepeques, Frailesca, Chiapas, Mexico
farm: N/A // Finca Santa Martha
producer: smallholder farmers
association: ECX // N/A
elevation: 2000 – 2350 // 1200 – 1750 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom // Typica, Bourbon, Caturra
process: fully washed, raised bed // fully washed, patio dried
method: Kalita Wave
grind: 18, Preciso
coffee: 24 g
water: 435 mL
pour: 1:30 concentric pour
The Winterlude Blend’s aroma is exactly what I was hoping it would be: sweet, soothing, enticing, warming, inviting, somewhat spiced with scents of caramel, chocolate, the faintest hints of roasted nuts, cinnamon, and red fruits.
As I take my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, I am immediately transported to another state of mind. The coffee, much like its aroma suggested it would be, is sweet; so sweet. Flavors of salted caramel, toffee, honey, brown sugar, and a light dusting of cocoa powder come flowing in with a buttery mouthfeel, kicking up hints of roasted hazelnut and spicy cinnamon in the finish.
As the coffee cools a bit, some really beautiful fruit flavors begin to emerge. These fruits are sweet and juicy, but mellow and subdued; so they don’t take over the profile of the cup, rather they finish the picture that the first half of the cup was painting: fig, raisin, apple pie, bing cherry, and a juicy clementine acidity that rounds out the bottom of the cup.
Medium body; buttery mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
Passion House Coffee Roasters’s Winterlude Blend is a welcome addition to the holiday season; the perfect companion to hunkering down in front of the fire on cold, wintry days or from sipping from a thermos while tromping through the woods in search of the perfect Douglas fir.
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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.