Worka Chelbessa - 2021 Dry Processed

Worka Chelbessa - 2021 Dry Processed

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    Complex aromatics of fresh blueberry, peach, rose, and creamy cocoa introduce a delightful cup offering chocolatey sweetness, juicy flavors of raspberry and black cherry, and an elegantly integrated orange-like acidity.

    This deeply fruited dry processed lot was produced by SNAP coffee in partnership with smallholder farmers from the community of Worka Chelbessa in Gedeb, Ethiopia. Thanks to meticulous hand-sorting and constant rotation of the coffee cherries during drying, this selection from the 2021 harvest offers delightfully jammy flavor notes and a profound depth of sweetness.

    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 Debela, 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. At the time of writing, this particular dry processed selection joins a Passenger menu lineup that also includes a wet processed lot from Worka Chelbessa, creating an opportunity to taste two processing styles from the same site comparatively.

    The Chelbessa processing sites employ an approach to dry processing that is quite traditional in Ethiopia: freshly delivered coffee cherries are laid out on raised beds and dried in the sun for 15 to 21 days depending on weather conditions. Processing coffee in this way certainly involves fewer steps than are required for wet processing, and there is the added benefit of reduced water use, but producing top quality dry processed coffees is far from easy. To prevent the coffee from developing moldy flavors, the depth of the cherries on the drying beds is kept quite shallow and the cherries are constantly turned throughout the day to ensure even drying. To maximize sweetness and complexity of flavor, workers at the processing sites sort out under-ripe fruit by hand during the initial drying period when color differences are easier to identify. All in all, the meticulous focus and attention to detail that characterizes the SNAP operation definitely sets the Chelbessa sites apart, with the result that they consistently produce dry processed lots that are impeccably clean and profoundly sweet.

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