Mild florals, citrus peel, and rich sweetness on the nose introduce flavors of nectarine and stone fruit with a creamy mouthfeel abundant with milk chocolate, and malted milk in the finish.
Our long-standing Foundational Decaf offering at Passenger, Los Sueños, has exclusively featured washed coffees from Colombia- most recently sourced from our foundational partners in Divino Niño. Los Sueños has occupied a special place on our menu since its inception as a low-caffeine offering that doesn’t compromise on sweetness and nuance in the cup, so when one of our import partners offered us a chance to taste a similarly EA decaffeinated, naturally processed coffee, from Ethiopia, we were eager to taste it. As a new entry on Passenger’s Education Lot menu, this unique decaf from Halo Hartume washing station in Gedeb, in the south of Ethiopia, offers a unique chance to taste the impact of two layers of post-harvest processing: the dry processing of the cherries that contribute to the lot, and the EA (or Ethyl Acetate) decaffeination process.
Until somewhat recently, producers in Ethiopia were only able to sell their coffee for export through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Founded in 2008, the ECX facilitated connection and sales between producers and exporters, but quality grading was generally done after first blending broad regional deliveries of coffee, the result of which was the loss of almost any traceability back to a specific farmer or mill. When laws changed in the Spring of 2017, allowing exporters and farms to export their coffee more directly, many larger estate farms and mill owners responded to the renewed opportunity to highlight and market traceability of their coffees. It was with this goal in mind that Ato Mijane Worasso and his family built the Halo Hartume wet mill, their second of a number of washing stations that they now own and operate in the ‘woreda’ (or district) known as Gedeb, in the broader Gedeo ‘zone’ of Ethiopia . Since establishing his first mill in Gedeb in the mid-90’s, Mijane Worasso, and now his son Daniel, have continued to open washing stations in the region, allowing them to increasingly refine the traceability of the coffees processed at their sites. Their hope is to someday use this approach to allow coffees delivered to their Gedeo mills to be further traceable down to the ‘kebele’ (or community), which is the smallest unit of local government distinction in Ethiopia. It was at Halo Hartume that, prior to decaffeination, this coffee was prepared as a dry processed coffee: where coffee beans were allowed to dry in whole cherry on raised beds before being hulled and prepared for export.
After export out of Ethiopia, this coffee was prepared as a decaf using the same process as our Los Sueños offering. . The process itself is often described as “E.A. Decaf”, with E.A. referring to ethyl acetate: the byproduct of fermented sugarcane that serves as a solvent to bond with, and ultimately remove caffeine from the coffee. In this process, the coffee is generally steamed and then submerged in a solution of ethyl acetate and water which gradually removes the caffeine without significantly altering the cellular structure of the coffee seeds. The finished result is a decaffeinated coffee that, following roasting, offers deep sweetness and appealing flavor complexity. Paired with the natural processing of this coffee before decaffeination, and the Ethiopian origin of its plant genetics, we’ve been delighted at the cupping table to find more nuanced flavors than we sometimes do with decaffeinated coffees: mild florals and citrus on the nose accompanied by creamy nectarine and a chocolatey, malted milk finish.