Ethiopia Belayneh Bariso Natural
Coffee Review May 2022, 95 points
Blind Assessment: Elegantly fruit-toned, juicy and bright. Lychee, cocoa nib, freesia, cedar, almond brittle in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with high-toned acidity; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. Resonant, long, flavor-saturated finish.
Notes: Produced by Asnake Bekele of Belayneh Farms, from local heirloom varieties of Arabica, and processed by the natural method (dried in the whole fruit). Imported by Catalyst Trade. RamsHead Coffee Roasters is a family-owned company founded by Bozeman, Montana natives Caleb and Laura Walker that specializes in direct trade microlot coffees. For more information, visit www.ramsheadcoffee.com.
The Bottom Line: A classic natural-processed Sidama cup: balanced, fruit-focused, cocoa-toned and richly sweet.
In March of 2020 RamsHead took a major hit with the Covid shutdown, which unfortunately led to our current Ethiopian farmer of the time closing for an entire season, and then only recently has begun production but is not currently importing coffee into the United States. For the past two years we have been searching for a suitable long term replacement. We have purchased coffee from a variety of producers but are excited to have finally made a long term partnership with Catalyst Trade. Based out of Portland, Catalyst deals strictly with Ethiopia coffees. We are excited to announce our first crop of Belayneh Bariso Natural. A natural coffee with incredibly juicy and vibrant notes of grenadine, blueberry candy, orange brandy, elderflower, passionflower, lychee juice. Belayneh will be a permanent offering in our rotation. A full traceability report is below.
The producer group
In 2014, we began working with Asnake Bekele. Now; you might recognize Asnake because of his signature modest, gold-toothed grin—but you might not know that he is single-handedly responsible for us all having the privilege of drinking (importing, roasting, serving) quality natural-processed Sidama coffee! Many years ago, when Asnake worked as the manager of the prominent Sidama Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union, he presented the idea to the producers to add raised-bed natural processing to their washed processed coffee. At the time, he was laughed at! But luckily for us all, he persevered, and of course now we all know the glory of natural-processed Sidama coffee.
While Asnake’s career in Ethiopian coffee has spanned many high points, we’ve had the privilege of partnering with him on a number of projects which included groundbreaking processing work in Kochere and Gelana Abaya (together we introduced honey processing) as well as on a researched article which directly resulted in over $8 million USD being invested by the Ethiopian government into the Gedeo Zone to repair dozens of washing stations damaged in the 2017 riots. He also helped us organize several producer groups in various parts of Ethiopia as well as served as an incredibly wise Ethiopian coffee expert and resource to us. When he began his latest endeavor—partnering with outstanding Sidama single producers such as Belayneh Bariso—we were on board from the first moment, and in fact we have the privilege of being his very first collaborative partner and of building this program with him.
Belayneh Bariso Farm
Belayneh Bariso is part of the producing group Asnake and his partner Aklilu Admassu has vertically integrated with. He’s focused on quality and on advancing the future of traceable, single-producer Ethiopian coffee. In a recent event co-hosted by Asnake’s company and Catalyst Trade, Belayneh spent two days with us learning details of advanced processing, financial management, and many other aspects of successful coffee production before taking to a boat to enjoy the bright sun and the hippo sightings on the Great Rift Valley Lake of Hawassa, where we held the retreat.
Asnake shares that on Belayneh’s farm, “Red Cherries are harvested by hand-picking. This is very labor intensive, and around 50 seasonal and daily laborers are employed for selective harvesting, transporting, sorting and drying. Over the harvest season, pickers return to the same tree multiple times as coffee cherry doesn’t ripen all at the same time. Carefully harvested cherries are then are loaded into bags or baskets and taken to the drying location and spread out in thin layers to dry in the sun. Only special raised drying beds or tables, which are made out of wood posts, are used and covered in bamboo mat.
In order to ensure even drying and to avoid mold, fermentation or rotting, the cherries are turned 6 times per day. It could take 15 – 21 days for specific lots to reach optimum moisture content depending on the sun access and temperature. This is determined by observing brightness of the skin and cracking sample dried cherries between the teeth. When the drying is complete, the dried cherries are loaded into poly bags and stored in temporary warehouse. From there, it will then ultimately transported to the dry mill and warehouse located at Daye town. At that point, the dried cherry is removed and a phase of pre-cleaning is done by hand before the coffee is loaded into bags for transportation to Addis Ababa for further export preparation at the final dry mill.
Cocoa in Cup
Recommended Brewing Method(s)
French Press, Pour-Over, Drip