Alemu Baketo - Ethiopia

Stone & citrus fruits with bergamot and fresh herbs.

Washing Station: Alemu Baketo
Region: Yirgacheffe, Gedeo
Country: Ethiopia
Processing: Wet Process
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,000 m
Varieties: Heirloom Bourbon & Typica
Sourced By: Melbourne Coffee Merchants

Alemu Baketo (pronounced “Ale-mu Ba-ke-to”) originates from the Kochere ‘woreda’ (administrative region) in Ethiopia’s Gedeo zone of Yirgacheffe.

Processed at the Alemu Baketo Washing Station these coffee cherries are delivered daily to the Station located near the town of Gedeb by around 650 small holding farmers. These producers farm on small plots of land (averaging 2 hectares in size) located 1,900-2,100 metres above sea level.

Ethiopia’s proud history as the birthplace of coffee and producer of some of the world’s most exquisite premium coffees means Ethiopian coffee is highly sought after internationally. The popularity of coffee among locals also remains strong; Ethiopians themselves drink more than half the quantity of coffee they grow.

Named after the Indigenous Gedeo People, the mountainous Kochere micro-region has long been renowned as one of the best origins of Southern Ethiopian coffee. A unique combination of very steep yet fertile land at high altitude means much of the coffee grows at over 2,000 metres above sea level. At this altitude, exceptional heirloom varieties and iron-rich, acidic soil creates ideal conditions to produce premium coffee.

At first glance, Yirgacheffe’s verdant hills appear thickly forested, yet it is a densely populated region dotted with villages, with around 43,000 farmers growing ‘garden coffee’ over approximately 62,004 hectares. Coffee is generally farmed organically and is an important cash crop grown alongside food for consumption.

This coffee is a blend of local varieties collectively known as ‘Ethiopian Heirloom’. All of these varieties are Arabica and most originate from a Typica predecessor, but with wild mutations that result in some exceptional and unique flavour profiles.

This lot is classified as Grade 1, indicating that only superior quality coffee cherries from the Alemu Baketo Mill have been selected and processed.

Ethiopia has one main annual coffee harvest across all growing regions, occurring from  November to January. To ensure only the very ripest cherries are selected, at least four passes are made during harvesting.

After the coffee cherries have been carefully handpicked, they are delivered on the same day to the Alemu Baketo Wet Mill, where they are processed using the washed method. The coffee cherries are then hand-sorted to remove any damaged or unripe fruit prior to the removal of the skin of the cherries by a disc pulper.

The resulting coffee is then graded by weight; heavier beans are superior quality and deliver a sweeter cup. After grading, the parchment-covered coffee is then soaked in tanks of clean water for 36-48 hours to remove the mucilage (sticky covering) by allowing it to ferment and detach from the coffee. The coffee is then re-washed and graded again by density in washing channels and then dried for 12 – 15 days on African drying beds, firstly under cover, and subsequently under the sun. Given daytime temperatures range between 20-25 degrees Celsius, the sun beds are covered from noon until 3pm to protect from exposure to full sun and again overnight to protect from morning dew. To ensure consistent drying results, the coffee is carefully hand-sorted and turned regularly, a task usually undertaken by women.

Although thousands of bags of coffee marked ‘Yirgacheffe’ are sold annually, there are significant variations in cup quality. We will only purchase premium level coffee and therefore assessed many samples of Yirgacheffe to ensure it possessed the exceptional cup profile we were looking for; a coffee exhibiting an intense floral aroma and delicate acidity, with notes of bergamot and lemon.

This Alemu Baketo coffee is a stunning example of an exceptional washed Yirgacheffe. Its elegant floral aroma, buttery mouthfeel, caramelised peach sweetness blends beautifully with complex notes of tropical fruits, tea and blackberries.