Coffee of the Week: Riripa, Ethiopia
This week we rolled out a new Ethiopian coffee from producers located around the community of Riripa in the Nansebo woreda of the West Arsi Zone. Some of this might sound familiar as our other Ethiopian offering comes from the relatively nearby community of Refisa, also in Nansebo. We will have both Riripa and Refisa available at the same time for only a week or so as we are down the less than two sacks of Refisa!
Nanesebo (also translated as Nensebo), is becoming more well recognized for it's unique characteristics in the world of Ethiopian specialty coffee, thanks in no small part to the popularity of offerings like Riripa and Refisa. As more and more becomes known about the unique geographies of Ethiopian coffee growing regions, coffees from Nanesebo, which would have once been more generically sold as "Sidamo" coffee, are building a reputation.
Hundreds of small-hold farmers contributed to this lot. As with most coffee produced in this part of Ethiopia, individuals will cultivate a small plot of coffee trees, typically planted with varieties that have been selected for success when growing in the dense forests in the area. Once the coffee cherries become ripe, they are harvested by hand and then carried, on foot, to a nearby washing station to be processed. The producers from around Riripa brought their coffee to a private washing station owned by a person named Haji Betro.
At the station, the coffee will be sorted and then de-pulped, separating the seed from the fruit. The seeds will be rinsed with water and then left to ferment underwater for 2-3 days. Once the mucilage of the fruit breaks down completely, the seeds will be rinsed again before being put out to dry on raised beds. On the beds, the coffee will be carefully turned by hand for the better part of two weeks until completely dry. This labor intensive processing is a big part of why these coffees taste the way they do.
Riripa has sweet, citric acidity, with a momentary pop of flavor that I likened to a lime-popsicle, that resolves into a long-lasting sparkle in the finish. There's a floral quality too, especially noticeable when the coffee is still hot, that reminds me of jasmine tea. It's an elegant coffee, and we've tried to roast it in a way that allows for these nuances to come through while still tasting like a coffee that you'll recognize from Highwire. There's enough going on in the roast to bring a sense of body to the cup.
Though this is our first run of Riripa as a single origin offering, you'll probably pick up its presence as an ingredient in other coffees on our menu, specifically The Core and in Conscientious Objector.