Brian Beyke

INDABA Coffee - Aricha Natural, Ethiopia

Brian Beyke

INDABA is passionate about two things- coffee and people.  Not only do they work with 2nd Harvest so that with every bag of coffee you purchase they provide food for one meal, but it goes beyond that.  Diving into their available Social Impact Report you will see some rather outstanding definers of a company seeking to better the lives of others, and a few key comments from those in the community:

“We may not be financially wealthy but we do have our time and talent to share with others.”

“When people in poverty are participants in their own transformation rather than simply being recipients of goods and services, they engage the process deeper and remain longer.”

“Anyone can sell a cup of coffee. But to sell a cup of coffee while positively impacting social change in your community is unique and quite frankly, not just anyone can do it.”

As an aspiring shop owner looking to grow the Kingdom by investing and growing the lives of those that come in, can one really find a better example than what Bobby and crew are doing with INDABA?  

The truth is, coffee is a commodity.  We are incredibly blessed (if not pampered) that we can sit here and blog about and compare the best of the best coffees in the world, when some people who work on the farms that grow them have never tasted them.  As much as I love good coffee, I think we can all agree that a common goal for any shop is always to provide a means for community, but INDABA lives and breathes that mantra and you know something - that is how we change the world.  From the farmers to the sourcers, Spokane and surrounding to here in Ohio, I want to thank INDABA for the lesson on serving.  With that, let’s dive into their Aricha Natural, Ethiopia.  

One of Ethiopia’s most prized coffees, Yirgacheffe is grown in the lush highlands of the Rift Plateau. This particular variety is dry-processed or “natural,” meaning the beans are dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit is removed.

Ethiopian Natural Yirgacheffe shows a characteristic brightness in the cup due to the distinctive red tint in the silty, loan clay soil. Its slightly bright red fruit fragrance hints of citrus, berry, peach and pineapple.

Natural  Yirgacheffe is believed to be culled from smaller holder farmers in the Gedeo region near Yiracheffe township. The area is planted with mostly Bourbon and Caturra.

Post harvest, the preparation involves careful picking of only red ripe cherries and the use of raised drying platforms covered with Hessian cloth, on which the beans are continuously turned for even drying. While most of the greater Yirgacheffe and Sidamo areas utilize a fully washed preparation, mills in the Gedeo region have introduced sundried naturals as a viable alternative in Southern Ethiopia.

This Southern Ethiopian specialty lot comes from the small town of Aricha Keble in the region of Yirgacheffe. Located on the eastern slope of the lush green mountains of the Rift Valley at an altitude of 1,950 metres above sea level..

Yirgacheffe is an excellent coffee growing district, the farm area covers 1,400 hectares and the Aricha Keble area employs 700 farmers who each have a 2 hectare plot devoted to coffee.

This natural coffee is sun dried on raised beds, over time, the skin and sticky juices of the cherry dry out in the sun. This process can take this distinctive coffee.

Delicious as a filter brew or enjoyed as an espresso, this coffee displays sweet notes of strawberry, chocolate and roasted hazelnuts combined with a rich creamy texture and citrus acidity

 

Details:

Roaster: INDABA Coffee

Region: Aricha, Yirgacheffe, Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia

Farm: Various smallholders

Process: Natural

Varietal: Heirloom

Elevation: 1,800 - 2,100m

 

Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 228g (w) | 2:03 total time | 198 degrees | 1.26 TDS | 19.05% Ext.

Brewing aroma of banana taffy, berries (specifically strawberries and cream), tropical hints even, and floral notes.

First sips are a bit more balanced that I’m accustomed too with a natural Ethiopian coffee.  Silky smooth with faint pops of floral and tropical laying the foundation for a more honey butter coating (but not very full in flavor) mouthfeel and slightly more pungent thoughts of black cherry, liquor, blueberry streusel, strawberry milkshake, and cocoa (faintly smoked) in the finish.

The most fascinating part of this coffee is the mid-cup transition. You feel those berry notes lift a bit, moving aside for more tropical and stone fruit sweetness to showcase, with notes of lemon, orange, plum, raisin, herbal tea, mango, cantaloupe, pomegranate, wood, even able to find slight notes of coconut and vanilla.  

Coming to the final sips they condense even more, with a fruit reduction now swirling in the mouth more like a milkshake.  Creamy, dense but light, saturated sweetness.

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Brew Method:

Iced Chemex | 40g © to 340g (w) | 300g ice | 3:10 total time | 203 degrees 

Deliciously sweet.  Buttery mouthfeel, nearly identical to neapolitan ice cream: strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, with whiffs of florals in the back end.  

The beginning of each sip also gives nods to blueberry, blackberry, and mango, but it’s that strawberry that lingers on.  The finish also carries notes more similar to caramel and chocolate malt.  

These are all notes that were similar in the hot beverage, I’m just not sure why it translates so much better in this cold format, but it does.  I can’t name all the flavors, but there are a lot more fruit notes now at play.

It has a bit of that herbal tea spice and a bit of a woodiness,that when combined with the fruit flavors and more citrus acidity just make a humdinger of an iced coffee.

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 198 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.15% Ext. (Immersion mode)

Good berry fronted aroma.

Diving in is pretty grand.  It carries just the right amount of berry fruitiness, a cherry meets orange brightness, then colliding with floral and chocolate mousse in the finish.  It has a syrupy body off the bat, rich with notes of blackberry, cherry, and herbal entwining with a slightly woody finish.

As it settles in the cup cleans up pretty well, giving a nice clarity to a soft complexity of berry and light tropical juices, still a bit blueberry forward but not distracting.  The acidity too has lowered in the cup, giving just the right amount lively lime or other citrus dance on the front end before ending on what seems like honey, vanilla, pineapple, cherry, currant, floral and possibly nutty notes in a slightly drying finish with a dry sweetness lingering.

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If you thought the beginning is balanced, just wait until the cup sinks in.  Sweet, cohesive, and overly enjoyable.  Some naturals can be overbearing, but you won’t find that with this one.  This is one of those coffees I love, ones that have little quirks here and there that sometimes you don’t find but are special when you do.  Look for mint, whiskey, complexity, and juiciness.  I was told I must dial this one in iced and they weren’t lying.  Such a delicious iced treat, and hot definitely opened my eyes to a more presentable natural processed Ethiopian after cups and cups of other offerings a bit more lackluster.  

It seems almost trivial in retrospect, to summarize a coffee from a roaster like INDABA.  I’m finding similar notes to the hundred or so other coffees I’ve visited, which tells me one thing: they roast good coffees.  Again, I find it an inspiration to dial in coffee to the point where it seems effortless and attention can in turn be focused on what matters- the people.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.