Apricot, black tea and mandarin.
Washing Station: Aroresa
Owner: Wochesa Achiso
Region: Bensa, Sidama
Processing: Fully Washed
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,000m
Variety: Heirloom Bourbon & Typica
Sourced Through: Melbourne Coffee Merchants
Aroresa (pronounced “A-ro-ress-a”) originates from the Bensa ‘woreda’ (administrative district) in the Sidama Zone in Ethiopia’s Southern Oromia State. It is named after the ‘kebele’ (local village) of Aroresa.
The washing station sits at 1,856m above sea level, and is privately owned by Wochesa Achiso, who buys cherries from local families - each cultivate small plots of land (averaging 2 – 5 hectares in size), located 1,900–2,000 metres above sea level.
Wochesa Achiso works collaboratively with Testi Coffee, who supports the washing station with quality control and also supports the washing station to market and sell their coffee. Testi Coffee is a family owned business that was founded ten years ago by Mr Faysel Yonis. The company is committed to maximising the potential of Ethiopian coffee and enriching the lives of the communities that are connected to it.
Testi Coffee’s business model is basically to buy coffee cherry from their ‘out-growers’ (an Ethiopian term for a small-holder who contributes to a particular washing station), while working with them to improve the quality of the coffee, and help develop the social conditions in the communities for the out-growers.
The team at Testi Coffee are very proud of the quality of coffee that they produce. In 2018, they launched a quality improvement program called the Premium Cherry Selection (PCS). Through this program, they pay a premium to producers who pick only the very ripest cherries from their farms. These coffees represent the very best that they have to offer, and this lot from Aroresa is a Premium Cherry Selection lot.
Mr Faysel, the owner of Testi, strongly believes that increased rewards for the out-growers should be shared by their entire community as a whole, rather than just delivering more financial benefits to the out growers themselves. To this end, he has launched an initiative called Project Direct, which focuses on directly helping coffee farmers, their families, and surrounding communities in tangible and positive ways. The project has helped to build schools and get communities access to clean water. Their goal in the future is to get support from their importing and roasting partners to make this initiative more fruitful.
This coffee is a mix of local varieties, including native coffees from forest origin that are collectively known as ‘Ethiopian Heirloom’. All of these varieties are Arabica and most originate from a Typica predecessor, but with wild mutations that result in some exceptional and unique flavour profiles. The coffee has been processed as a washed lot using fresh water from the nearby river Hamile. It is classified as Grade 1, indicating that a lot of effort has been put into the selection and grading during processing.
Each day, carefully hand-picked coffee cherries are delivered to the Aroresa mill and are meticulously sorted by hand and a floatation tank prior to processing to remove unripe, overripe, or damaged fruit, in order to enhance the quality and sweetness of the cup. The coffee cherries are then pulped using a disk pulper to remove the fruit and skin, and then graded by weight; heavier beans are superior quality and deliver a sweeter cup. After grading, the parchment-covered coffee is soaked in tanks of clean water for 24–48 hours to remove the mucilage (sticky covering) by allowing it to ferment and detach from the coffee. The coffee is then re-washed and graded again by density in washing channels and soaked in clean water for 12–24 hours.
The coffee is then dried for around 12 days on African drying beds, firstly under cover (for up to a day) and then subsequently in the sun. Whilst drying, the coffee is carefully hand-sorted, and any defects are removed. It is also turned regularly to ensure that it dries evenly and consistently. At midday, the coffee is covered to protect it from full sun. It is also covered overnight to prevent damage from morning dew. Once the coffee is dry it is rested in parchment until it is ready for export. Aroresa is a fine example of the distinctive and unique nature of coffee produced in this region.