Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee.
The regal coffees from this country are deserving of such a heritage and stand up to the calling. Referring to Ethiopia as a country of single origin, however, is misleading. Coffee beans from the different growing regions vary so incredibly that they do not even seem to be from the same plane.
This lovely Ethiopian is highly perfumed with bergamot, known for its use in Earl Grey tea, and has notes of lemongrass, and sweet limeade. An elegant acidity that is both floral and citrusy wakes the palate, which is then flooded with a velvety body.
At first taste, we fell in love with this classic “Top Lot” Yirgacheffe coffee that came through the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange. Beansmith Coffee always strives to know the complete story of the coffees we offer in order to pass that story on to our customers. However, it was a challenge to learn this coffee’s particular story because of the way the ECX grades and categorizes Ethiopian coffees. They focus more on quality and the characteristics of the coffees and less on traceability. They recognize that traceability of one coffee to a certain farmer may leave many other farmers out of the loop, inflating the price of the one, while deflating the price of the others.
It may seem suspect to single out and grade this gorgeous coffee “Top Lot” while not giving props to the farmers by name, but it is not the intent of the ECX to take advantage of the grower.
As stated on their website- (http://www.ecx.com.et/)
The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange was started to benefit and modernize the way Ethiopia was trading its most valuable assets, its commodities. Ethiopia needed a change from the traditional means of trading to better support the needs of all those involved in the trading and production.
Before the ECX was established agricultural markets in Ethiopia had been characterized by high costs and high risks of transacting, forcing much of Ethiopia into global isolation. With only one third of output reaching the market, commodity buyers and sellers tended to trade only with those they knew, to avoid the risk of being cheated or defaulted on. Trade is done on the basis of visual inspection because there was no assurance of product quality or quantity, this drove up market costs, leading to high consumer prices. For their part, small-scale farmers, who produce 95 percent of Ethiopia’s output, came to market with little information and are at the mercy of merchants in the nearest and only market they know, unable to negotiate better prices or reduce their market risk.
ECX is developing a new method of exchange and a safer one for all who trade on it.”
Of course Beansmith’s preference would be to know the name of the farm and the farmer, and eventually shake their hand on a trip to origin, but sometimes amazing coffees come to you through avenues with less than perfect traceability. Such is the case with the Yirgacheffe Top Lot. Many times we desire to add our cultural tendencies into a coffee, without regard to the culture from whence the coffee has come. Ethiopian society is not based strictly on free and private enterprise, but rather on the community’s work as a whole. The large Community of Yirgacheffe played a role in this coffee, and the best of the best was sorted and brought to the top. This coffee is the labor of many hands, and many hands have reaped the rewards. We adore this beautiful coffee and are proud to be offering it this year.