Intoxicating aromas of jasmine, rose, honeydew melon, and peach introduce this stunning coffee from Gedeb. In the cup, we find elegant flavors of bergamot and raspberry that are beautifully complemented by a delightfully sweet watermelon quality.
This sparklingly delightful coffee was produced by smallholder farmers from the community of Worka Chelbessa in Gedeb, Ethiopia. This is the second consecutive year that Passenger has featured a Chelbessa selection processed by Negusse Debela and the SNAP Coffee team. As with last year’s lot, the current offering offers a delightfully nuanced example of the famed Yirgacheffe flavor profile.
The kebele (community, neighborhood, etc.) of Worka Chelbessa is located in Gedeb, one of the 7 woredas (districts) that together make up the Gedeo Zone within the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region of Ethiopia. While many of Passenger’s Ethiopian offerings, including our foundational Agaro coffees, come from Western Ethiopia, Gedeb is in the South, bordering the other famous coffee-producing woredas of Kochere and Yirgacheffe.
It’s important to clarify that “Yirgacheffe”, one of the most famous names in the history of Ethiopian coffee, is commonly used in a variety of ways. Yirgacheffe is the name of a small town, as well as a woreda that surrounds the town, and also a coffee producing region (i.e. the geographical source of “Yirgacheffe coffee”) that is significantly broader than the town or the woreda. We understand this broader designation to accurately apply to coffee produced within the entire Gedeo Zone as well as to a few coffees that come from the Oromia region immediately to the west. So it is that this particular lot from Worka Chelbessa can be described as a Yirgacheffe coffee even though it was not produced within the woreda of Yirgacheffe.
A few years back, Ethiopian businessman Negusse Debala, who had built a successful company importing computer parts in Addis Ababa, had an eye-opening experience while on a trip to the United States. After witnessing the preparation of a pour-over coffee in a Minnesota cafe, Negusse identified what he saw as significantly untapped potential in his home country. Shortly after his return to Ethiopia, Negusse founded SNAP Specialty Coffee, an export company that has swiftly built a strong reputation for connecting importers and roasters with some of the most sought after coffees in Ethiopia. In addition to offering quality control, export, and logistics services, SNAP owns and operates a number of their own washing stations, including two sites in Worka Chelbessa, that in recent years have produced truly stellar wet processed, dry processed, and experimental lots.
The Chelbessa processing sites employ an approach to wet processing that is quite traditional in Ethiopia. After the freshly harvested coffee cherry has been pulped, the coffee seeds undergo 36-48 hours of fermentation under water. Throughout this stage, the water is changed frequently to avoid off flavors and when fermentation is complete the coffee is washed in channels and dried on raised beds for 10-14 days.