Getting to Aricha is quite the ride. From Yirgacheffe we drive west into the hills. Temperature drops, forest gets thicker and suddenly the sky opens up and we find ourselves in a beautiful valley. It's early morning and the fog is still caressing all the coffee trees and drying tables. Shades of farmers are crossing the road while they're making their way to the station. First thing in the morning we see heaps of farmers gathered and singing a prayer out loud to bless their crops and day. A sea of 250 drying tables are well organized with one layered natural and perfectly layered washed processed coffees for consistency. Profile are very distinct and full of character and freshness.
Origin: Testi Adorsi Washing station (Aricha)
This special coffee is from a private mill in the local community of Aricha, in the highlands close to Yirgacheffe town. This mill is working in closely with one of our export partners to increase quality through systematic work at the processing station. The cherries are from small family plots of both recently planted trees of improved varietals, and traditional old varieties. This farmer produces limited amounts and a selection of the highest quality lots are now available through Nordic Approach.
Yirgacheffe is known for it’s clean, floral and juicy washed coffees and high quality sundried lots with genuine and unique fruit and berry flavors.
The area where this coffee is grown, in our opinion, features some of the most complex and intense coffee flavors in Yirgacheffe. The region is dominated by small family plots of both recently planted trees of improved varietals, and traditional old varieties. Organic fertilizer is common, pruning less common.
This washing station owned by Testi coffee exporters.
It is a relatively large washing station and they have invested in drying tables and other infrastructure to maximize quality and lot separation. They collect cherries from seven different areas surrounding the washing station.
About 700 smallholders in the surrounding areas as well as remote farmers.
Farmers deliver a mix of local improved varieties, plus local landraces like Kurume. The varieties are referred to collectively as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a myriad of local native Typica hybrids, plus new and improved varieties based on the old strains.
Harvest and cherry selection
Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripe and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing.
Soaking and pre-sorting
The cherries are soaked in water. The healthy cherries will sink, while the diseased and damaged cherries will float and are skimmed off and removed. The cherries will then be moved to the drying beds. Underripe and defective cherries will be sorted out by hand during the first days.
When producing naturals the level of fermentation will be determined by the thickness and layer during the first days of drying in combination with temperature. Fermentation is slower at higher altitudes as temperatures are generally lower.
Drying and handsorting
The cherries are dried in a relatively thin layer at about 3-4 cm the first days. They will build up the layers to 6-10 cm after a few days. The coffees are moved frequently and they will be covered during the hottest hours of the day to protect the cherries from intense sunlight, then again at night to protect against humidity. This will also help improve quality as the coffee is rested and the drying more homogeneous. Drying take 15 - 18 days.
Warehouse and Supply Chain Management
Warehousing at the washing station
After drying the coffees will be packed in jute bags and stored in the local warehouse onsite, separated by process and grade. Lot sizes can vary from 100 - 300 bags. This process helps condition the coffee and achieve a more uniform humidity. They will normally be stored 1-2 months before they are moved. In some cases the parchment will be hand-sorted in the warehouse.
Transport and logistics
After the harvest season is over the coffees are moved to warehouses and dry mills in Addis. Trucking is expensive in Ethiopia. The coffee trucks must pass a local ECX checkpoint where its contents are graded and registered as an exportable product, before it continues to Addis Ababa.
Warehousing and dry milling
The coffee will sit in parchment in a warehouse in Addis. This is when our team will go to the warehouse and collect the samples from the specific stocklots. It remains in parchment until it is contracted and the destination for shipment is confirmed.
Tropiq Lab and quality control.
Our team on the ground in Addis personally collect samples which we cup and grade, and measure humidity and water activity. When the specific lot is selected for purchase we register the contract with a shipping destination and approve it for milling and shipment. We are present at the dry mill during processing, grading and bagging, and we immediately take a PSS sample for approval.
Container stuffing and transport
We generally try to get our containers stuffed in Addis at the dry mills and moved to the port and straight on a vessel in Djibouti. This way we reduce the risk of delays or mistakes at port that frequently happen when moving coffee by truck for stuffing in Djibouti.
The owners of this mill cover the school expenses for local children, and are currently building a new primary school in the nearest town so children do not have to walk so far to school.
Nordic Approach - How we purchase and select coffees:
We plan our selection at the beginning of the harvest and will usually pre-book most of our coffees.
Working alongside the team of Tropiq Ethiopia, our sister company, the Nordic Approach team is in Addis several times a year. We plan the season with our suppliers and develop relationships and a mutual understanding on our priorities and strict buying criteria.
When it comes to the season for making decisions, we are there to cup with our team, and we receive samples in Oslo on a weekly basis. After cupping through hundreds of samples this coffee is from our selection of Grade 1 rated coffees.
The coffees we buy are cupped and assessed in a way that gives us good insight into the cup profile and quality, as well as the consistency of that particular lot..