Episode 600: Ethiopia Sharo Natural
The Sharo washing station belongs to Israel Degfa, who also brings us the wonderful Ana Sora coffee each year. Sharo is located near to the town of Bule Hora, which is in the Sidamo region and a bit south of Yirgacheffe town.
Sharo is a washing station that collects coffee cherries from local smallholders and processes them. As you'll have seen if you've had the Ana Sora coffee for the last few years, Israel is very focused on continually improving.
He's constantly improving the setup at the washing stations, and he keeps pushing to improve consistency and attention to detail in all the coffee production. That's especially difficult when you're buying the coffee cherries from many local farming families, but lots of work has gone into supporting local growers and helping them do a better job – and helping them earn more by doing so.
This coffee really jumped out at us as we tasted some of Israel's coffees. Very different to our beloved Ana Sora, this was heavier in body and darker in flavours, but it's a really interesting and different coffee that showed another side of what Natural processing can bring. The big shock came when we looked at the information and discovered it was a Grade 2!
What does that mean? Good question!
All coffee sold in Ethiopia gets graded by the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX). The visual quality of the green beans – any defects or damage – is assessed, and the coffee is cupped to see how it tastes. Between these factors, a coffee is given a grade from 1 (the best) to 5 (the worst), with grades 1 and 2 being considered Speciality coffee. So in theory, this coffee isn't quite as good as the Ana Sora (Grade 1), nor in fact as good as most of the other coffees we see from Ethiopia.
Of course, we wouldn't have bought this coffee if we agreed with that. Whilst we don't rate it quite as highly as our lots from Ana Sora, it's still a great coffee and far better than many Grade 1 lots we've looked at in the past.
There's loads of rich dark chocolate here, but it's got a boozy hit of cherry brandy in there too. It's all got a thick, gloopy texture, but juicy cherry takes centre stage on the aftertaste and draws you back in for another sip of the chocolate.
Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6.5
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 7
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6
Overall: (1–8): 6
Total (max. 100): 87
Medium – push this into the gap with a nice and steady pace, and then finish the roast before second gets going.
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