Episode 625: Ethiopia Ana Sora Washed

Ana Sora is a private farm owned by second-generation coffee farmer Israel Degfa. He grew up immersed in various aspects of the coffee industry as his father was a mill manager and his mum sold coffee in the local bus station to commuters. The estate is located in the Guji Zone, due East of Yirgacheffe. It’s western neighbour is Uraga and to the East is Adola - both places where Israel owns mills as well.

As coffee farms go, it's a very new farm: it was only formed in 2013. It's located at a whopping altitude of between 1,900 and 2,350 metres above sea level. It's a gorgeous but somewhat tiring walk to get there! (It's not all just holiday snaps, this coffee buying malarkey!)

We're now into our fifth wonderful year of roasting coffee from Ana Sora, and it's as exciting to see it return in 2020 as it was to roast it for the first time back in 2016! This coffee represents lots of time and energy working at the farmer's gate in Ethiopia, and it's one of the most unique coffees I've ever tasted.

My last visit to the farm was in December 2019 and I'm so pleased I was able to potter by and catch up with Israel before all this pandemic hoo-hah kicked off. Stevie Storytime... during my most recent trip we were driving together down a rough road that was part-way through being built when we blew out two tires at the same time. We had been travelling for 12 hours in the car and there wasn't a tyre shop anywhere nearby - so we got stuck in the middle of nowhere in the dark for three hours! Thankfully one of the farm managers kindly drove out to us with a car which we took back to the house, and he slept in our car all night to keep an eye on it until the tyre shop opened. What a top bloke, he was our knight in shining armour!

It is unusual to find private farms of 250 hectares in Ethiopia (the norm being smallholder gardens of less than 2 hectares each) and even more unusual to find them at such high altitudes. Ethiopian coffee farms are high in general compared to other producing countries (mostly between 1700 - 2100 masl) but Ana Sora is on the higher side still, reaching as high as 2350 masl. The altitude helps with the slower maturation of the coffee cherry (owing in part to the generally lower temperatures and cooler nights) and allows more time for the plant to develop, which contributes to the super unique cup profile we see in coffees from Ethiopia.

Coffee growing is popular locally, and Israel also sources coffee from the surrounding area. Each washing station has around 1000-2000 members, each with one of the small home coffee plots typical of Ethiopia producing very small quantities. The area is populated by smallholder farmers who speak Oromife and are of Oromo ethnicity. Israel believes in helping these farmers through education in husbandry, and also through financial assistance.

Situated alongside the river Turo, the farm used to only produce naturally processed coffee. However, in 2018 the farmers decided to take advantage of the water source and built a washing station capable of producing washed coffee too, so TADAH! Here we have it!

This is a unique coffee from a unique relationship, and I'm massively excited to share it with you once again.

Up front is a hit of florals and sweet lemon, which the best Washed Yirgacheffes are known for. That sweet lemon gets a tropical edge as it's joined by persimmon, before swinging back into classic territory with a black tea like finish. Super unusual (and delicious) though is the aftertaste, where fresh raspberry kicks in.

  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Area: Guji zone
  • Nearest town: Yirgacheffe
  • Farm: Ana Sora
  • Varietal: Indigenous wild varietals
  • Processing: Washed
  • Owner: Israel Degfa
  • Founding year: 2013
  • Altitude: 1,900–2,350 m.a.s.l.
  • Farm size: 250 hectares, of which 150 hectares are coffee

Cupping notes: Floral, sweet lemon, persimmon, black tea, raspberry

  • Clean cup: (1–8): 7
  • Sweetness: (1–8): 6.5
  • Acidity: (1–8): 6.5
  • Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6
  • Flavour: (1–8): 7
  • Aftertaste: (1–8): 8
  • Balance: (1–8): 6
  • Overall: (1–8): 7
  • Correction: (+36): +36

  • Total: (max. 100): 90

Roasting Information: Light to Medium - straight through first crack, keep it pretty quick and drop once you reach the gap.

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