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October 15, 2013 by beanerbar
In 2007, a single natural processed coffee took the industry by storm, and, for 3 years, it seemed like coffee from the village of Biloya was the only natural Ethiopian coffee people talked about. While this coffee comes from a different source within the village, the hallmark flavors that built the namesake and reputation have come through again: big jammy notes of blackberry, peach syrup, and cocoa.
Two years ago, we began working with the Biloya Cooperative in the hopes of rekindling the coffee we loved from this part of Ethiopia in the past. So, we committed to purchasing the first special preparation natural processed coffee the cooperative would attempt. While the test sample we tasted was really spectacular last year, the coffee took too long to arrive from Ethiopia, and in ended up only tasting okay, so it never became a coffee we featured. This year is a different story, though.
We once again took a risk and committed to even more coffee from the Cooperative, and contrary to last year, the coffee actually came in better than the original sample. This coffee resurrects the namesake that made this village famous 6 years ago and delivers the classic syrupy dark fruit profile we loved in the past.
Biloya was one of the founding cooperatives to join the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in 2002. The cooperative has two separate washing stations where they process washed and natural sundried coffees.
Region: Kochere, Ethiopia
Elevation: 1,670 – 2,100 meters
Kochere – a sub-region of Yirgacheffe – and is known for its great elevation and for newer planted coffee trees compared with the area right around the town of Yirgacheffe. Biloya itself is interesting because the washing station is the lowest elevation place we purchase coffee from – sitting in a valley around 1,700 meters. However, the peaks around the washing station are the highest areas we buy from. We draw the conclusion that it is likely the combination of valley coffee and staggering 2,200-2,300 meter coffees that create the intense flavors this coffee offers.
Yirgacheffe itself is likely the most famous or second-most famous town – Harrar being the other – in all of Ethiopia. When we first traveled to Yirgacheffe almost a decade ago, it was hard to believe that a town so tiny that if you blinked while driving through it you might miss it, could have such a reputation. The reputation, however, is there for a reason. Yirgacheffe revolutionized Ethiopian coffee back by building a washing station to process coffee in the “washed” style popular in Latin America at that time.
Yirgacheffe quickly became famous for its sweetly complex, almost tea-like washed coffees, and the area around Yirgacheffe town remains heaven for coffee buyers around the world, including us. Fertile soil, staggering altitude, ideal climate, and unique heirloom coffee varieties make this a truly special coffee region.
General Place Information
As many coffee people know, Ethiopia is the indigenous birthplace of coffee, which is believed to have grown wild in the southwestern forests for millennia.Therefore, Ethiopia has the longest-standing traditions of coffee culture and cultivation in the world. Ethiopia’s coffee trees have cross-pollinated an unknown number of times, creating more genetic coffee diversity than all other producing countries combined. As for the coffee culture of Ethiopia, it stands alone, as well. No other country celebrates coffee with such high regard; the reverence of the daily coffee ceremony is a cultural treasure and an incredibly important part of the fabric of Ethiopian social, familial, and business life.
The Biloya cooperative is composed of a little more 1,200 members, and they tend to have about 1.5 hectares of land, and, in that 1.5 hectares, about half is generally coffee. It is a diverse ecosystem with lots of different plants and shade. This area is also extremely densely populated (second only to Addis Ababa), making the diversity of the ecosystem that much more impressive.
While forested land and tree diversity is an issue in many parts of Ethiopia, including the south, compared to other regions of the world with this size of population, the amount of shade canopy is impressive. A large percentage of the population here grows coffee as a cash crop, but people there are largely subsistence farmers. Enset (false banana) is the main food crop followed by many types of fruits, vegetables, and beans.
Varieties: Kurume, Wolisho, Dega, and other heirloom types
Elevation: 1,6700 – 2,100
Process: Natural sundried
Drying: Raised beds, 3 -4 weeks
Harvest Time: January – February 2013
Certifications: Counter Culture Direct Trade Certified • Certified Organic • Shade Grown