Organic Misty Valley
Introducing the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe - the heartbeat of our roastery and the zest in our morning rituals.
Flavor Profile: Crisp and complex fruit basket flavor with a milky body finishing in a smooth chocolatey/ pastry dough finish. The Yirgacheffe is a smooth city to medium roast.
Suggested Brew Methods: French Press, chemex, aeropress
Background: The natural coffees of Yirgacheffe have long been prized for their delicate, tea-like aromatics and clean citrus flavor. Recently, producers in the Gedio region have been reinventing the natural process originally developed in Ethiopia to offer a completely different profile from this well-known origin.
When the ripe cherries are first brought to the mill to dry on raised African beds, they are constantly turned (day and night!) for the first 48 hours of drying to ensure an even evaporation of the moisture from the cherry. This lends a consistency and cleanliness to the cup, which can prove difficult in a process prone to mold and uneven air circulation. After the coffee is fully dried and the skin, mucilage, and parchment removed, it is sorted and traded through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange.
Our Experience: Whilst living a year abroad in New Zealand, Sam discovered a micro roastery. The vibe, the energy, the coffee - all was contagious. Many a happy morning Sam ran down from her lodgings on Mt. Eden (1 of 52 volcanoes in Auckland) to enjoy smells of the freshly roasted coffee and pick up a bag of the coveted Yirgacheffe.
Devastated at the thought of returning to the USA and not being able to have this bean in her life, Sam returned to CA with one bag - determined to find the same bean and roast her own coffee until the cupping was comparable. After many months of searching and many lbs of coffee she finally discovered the Misty Valley Yirgacheffe - a rich, jubilant coffee with notes of pastry dough, blueberry, and milk chocolate.
Now, rising early to continue the ritual, Sam drinks the Yirgacheffe every morning to not only set balance to her day but also to evoke happy memories of the golden year spent in her beloved New Zealand🇳🇿 Aroha nui Aotearoa.
Region: Konga, Yirga Chefe, Gedeb District, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
Growing Altitude: 1800 – 2100 masl
Arabica Variety: Indigenous heirloom cultivars
Milling Process: Full natural and dried on raised beds
The creation of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) in 2008 significantly limited farm-level traceability. In a noble effort to reduce nepotism and fraudulent marketing by bad actors in the chain (both of which directly hurt farmers’ chances in the market), the Exchange instituted a nationalized system of purely empirical quality analysis. This was achieved by anonymizing coffee deliveries to government-run sensory analysis hubs throughout the country. In these labs, samples would be cupped and the entire lot would then be profiled by region and grade only, for internal auction to exporters. Where all of this backfired was in relationship markets: longtime microlot buyers, like Royal, could risk losing access to very established producer partnerships as their coffees were blinded in the Exchange; and, enterprising coops, unable to show their coffees directly to buyers, found it more difficult to find their coffees a consistent home for the highest value. In response, Royal, with support from select cooperatives, led the formation of the Single Farmer Lots Program, in order to break off single farmer lots from the larger cooperative blends sold through the ECX, taking custody of these precious coffees through a direct sale. The program is a unique micro-channel of almost unprecedented specificity in coffee supply from Ethiopia. Farmers with the drive and means to sell direct are supported by Royal, and, in turn, our most enthusiastic buyers of Ethiopia coffee have access to a portfolio of single-farm lots, un-diluted by the typical cooperative- and exporter-level consolidations. The Single Farmer Lots Program represents a very sweet end to a chaotic recent chapter in Ethiopia’s coffee history, and we think it’s a model for what ought to be a generation of start-up relationship farming in Ethiopia’s world-famous southern zones. Annual farm visits from Royal CEO Max Nicholas-Fulmer and regular communication with farmers through Haile Andualem, Royal’s representative on the ground in Ethiopia, has been an essential component for ensuring that farmers and washing stations are following strict farm management and post-harvest protocols. The results have been increasing cup quality and higher returns for the individual producers that Royal has come to count on for great coffee year after year. Takele Mammo Denbi, at 47 years, is a brand-new participant in the Single Farmer Lots Program this year, but not at all new to the direct export process. Takele is currently stepping down after many years as the Managing Director of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, of which his own farm has been a member. Takele has worked closely with Royal over the years helping this program succeed, but to avoid any conflict of interest excluded his personal coffee from the program. Takele cultivated this single farmer lot on his 8-hectare farm in the Konga disctrict, located in the heart of the coveted Gedeo Zone—the narrow section of plateau dense with savvy farmers whose coffee is known as “Yirgacheffe”. The Konga cooperative is well-known for its quality, and it’s a distinct pleasure having individual farmers from this perennially impressive community to celebrate, not to mention one as dedicated to farmer opportunity as Takele.