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 sipping the Ethiopia Borboya, from Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn, New York, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Borena, Oromia, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Borboya Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 – 1950 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
method: Hario V60
grind: 17, Preciso
coffee: 30 g
water: 420 mL
pour: 2:00 pulse pour, 1:00 drop
The aroma of the Ethiopia Borboya is fragrant and perfumed, 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 a complex mix of high and low notes; it’s like somebody set the iPod EQ to “Jazz.” The highs: lemonade, peaches, hibiscus, and nectarine; the lows: earth, oak, spicy cinnamon, honey; the mid: well, there’s a really nice, silky almond milk texture and flavor.
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 an ice-cold glass of pink lemonade. Further flavors of apricot, pear, strawberry, cantaloupe, sugar cookie, and ginger round out the bottom of the cup and make for a crisp, satisfying finish.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
One thing I really enjoy is when coffees are perfectly balanced and well-rounded. Of course I love coffees that are packed with flavor and taste incredible, but if they’re not balanced they can make for an unpleasant experience—they can be too much one thing or another, go too far in one direction or the other.
The Ethiopia Borboya, from Toby’s Estate Coffee, had it all.
Not only was it hugely flavorful, it was also perfectly balanced; for every night note (bright, lively fruits) it had an equally low note (earth, wood), and its middle range was mild enough that it kept the two extremes firmly tethered to each other. At no point was this cup too one thing or the other.
This Borboya was absolutely textbook.
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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.