‘Awash River’ is a new naturally processed coffee from smallholder farmers serviced by the river Awash in the Yirgacheffe region of southern Ethiopia. These farmers rely on the great river and its many tributaries to cultivate coffee and sustain their communities.
The Yirgacheffe region has developed a reputation for some of the most sought-after coffees in the world. With the river Awash as a rich source of clean water, the combination of high altitude, fertile soils, and abundant sunshine provides ideal conditions for arabica coffee cultivation.
This coffee is naturally processed, whereby ripe coffee cherries are dried in the sun on raised African beds for around 12-15 days, depending on ambient conditions. This sun-drying process allows for sugars in the cherry pulp to transfer into the bean, presenting in the cup as complex fruit flavors. Raised beds provide airflow to facilitate a consistent drying process, though the cherries are also turned periodically to prevent mold and covered at night to protect from rain and moisture. Once the ideal moisture content is reached the dried cherries are rested in a cool environment before being hulled, graded and handpicked prior to export.
“THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND (AND COFFEE)”
The Awash carves through almost 750 miles of Ethiopia’s great rift valley, providing a vital water source for millions. In fact, Archaeologists believe humans have lived along the river since the dawn of man. Known as “the cradle of humankind”, the middle Awash is to some of the most important archaeological discoveries in history, including perhaps the most famous hominid fossil ever found: “Lucy”.
In a poetic twist, Ethiopia is also the birthplace of the arabica coffee tree. As farmers began to harvest the wild forest trees of Southern Ethiopia they, in turn, began to cultivate them on their own land. Nevertheless, much of the coffee in Ethiopia still grows wild and is represented by thousands of different sub-varieties, many of which are cultivated by farmers throughout regions such as Yirgacheffe to this day.