Tony's Coffee Ethiopia BoranaBorana is a member of the Oromia Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union (OCFCU) with roughly 850 members. OCFCU was created in 1998 to support more stable and transparent trade for coffee producers with an emphasis on producing specialty coffee. The Union now works with a handful of cooperatives and thousands of households creating higher wages and implementing programs to promote more sustainable agricultural practices.

Location is in the Borana subregion of Gedeo near the town of Negele. It’s quite the haul from Yirgacheffe town but still qualifies as Yirgacheffe quality within the Ethiopian appellation systems. Processing is standard Ethiopian – disc depulping, wet ferment, washing in density channels and drying on raised beds.

Altitude at Borana ranges from 1900-2300 meters above sea level. The soil is volcanic with top layer more loamy.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Borana, from Tony’s Coffee in Bellingham, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.

THE BASICS:

region: Borana, Gedeo, Ethiopia
farm/factory: Borana
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Oromia Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union (OCFCU)
elevation: 1900 – 2300 meters above sea level
cultivar(s): Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
certifications: standard

THE COFFEE:

The aroma of the Ethiopia Borana is certainly unique. It’s subtle, but it has certain elements to it that really stand out – there’s a soft cocoa note and some mixed berry scents which, for an Ethiopia, are fairly par for the course; but then there are these really interesting floral and herbal notes, too: jasmine, oolong tea leaves, and mint.

Up front, those soft, aromatic notes play out even more; each sip brings them delicately fluttering in, tickling the sides of the tongue and brushing up against the roof of the mouth. That mint flavor has a bit of a bite to it, too, that ever so slightly burns the back of the tongue. There is also plenty of cocoa powder and raw honey in each sip, though, and that mixture mellows out the finish well.

As it cools off, the honey and, surprisingly, oolong tea leaves come to the forefront and become the dominant flavor component, but there are plenty of silky, juicy, and vibrant fruit flavors that flesh out as well (I’m tasting apricot, green apple, lemon rind, grape, cherry, nectarine, blackberry, blueberry, elderberry). However, as bright and vibrant as those fruits are, the honey and tea leaves are still prevalent – there’s even a muted sweetness of pistachio and hazelnut that’s more dominant than the fruits. It’s really unique to have such liveliness, brightness, and vibrance reined in, bridled, and bubbling beneath the surface; it’s like a smoldering volcano – it looks like it’s about to blow up at any minute, but it just keeps smoldering away.

Medium body; silky mouthfeel; berry acidity; clean finish.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

A lot of the coffees coming out of Ethiopia lately have been really unique and complex; many of them have similar profiles: light- to medium-bodied, floral/herbal, delicate, soft, lightly sweet. (I suppose the fact that “a lot” of these coffees have such similar profiles negates their uniqueness…) But the fact that these profiles are so common nowadays doesn’t make them any less delicious, and the Ethiopia Borana, from Tony’s Coffee, is no exception.

This is a fine and delicate her/floral-forward coffee that is utterly delightful. It encompasses the general bright, clean, tea-like qualities of a typical Yirgacheffe with a pronounced, seductive complexity and sweetness throughout the cup.

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