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 either of the two can still be marked as “Gelana Abaya.” Most likely, this coffee came from an area that 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 Thirty Thirty Coffee Company in Peoria, Illinois, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Kersa, Gelana Abaya, Oromia, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1700 – 1900 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
method: Hario V60
grind: 17, Preciso
coffee: 28 g
water: 430 mL
pour: 2:00 straight pour, 1:00 drop
The aroma of the Ethiopia Gelana Abaya is really nice—elegant, delicate, sweet, somewhat poignant—with scents of honey, vanilla, and tangy citrus.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, the coffee opens with a sweet and flowing river bed of creamy vanilla, creme fraiche, honey, cane sugar, and graham cracker. It even has a bit of fruity tartness up front which—coupled with the cream, sugar, and graham cracker flavors—comes across tasting a bit like key lime pie. This is a light-bodied, nuanced affair, mildly elegant in the way it presents itself on the palate.
As the cup cools off, it becomes even more complex; silky fruit flavors of apple, raspberry, pear, peach, lime, and strawberry stream down the center and sides of the tongue and each sip ends in a clean, crisp finish.
Light body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; dry finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
It’s no secret that, generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of natural Yirgs; I just don’t like coffees that feature such a major emphasis on blueberry bombs and ferment. I find them boring and one-dimensional. Natural Yirgs that cup like washed Yirgs, on the other hand… Now those I can get behind.
What I mean by that is, instead of sipping a cup that’s dominated by an unrestrained blueberry bomb and ferment, I prefer sipping cups that feature unrestrained complexities and nuances typically found in washed Ethiopias.
That’s what Thirty Thirty Coffee’s Ethiopia Gelana Abaya was like—it’s a natural Yirg that cupped way more like a washed Yirg. No berry bomb, no fermentation—just a clean, balanced, complex, and flavorful coffee that was a real treat to sip.
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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.