Name: Olonso Qeka
Producer: Sedaqa Olonso Qeka
Region: Sidama Region
Process: Limited Oxygen Process
Altitude: 2,350 MASL
Flavor Notes: Kiwi / Lavender / Bergamot / Caramel Apple
Typical processing for washed Ethiopian coffee sees cherries entering the washing station atop donkeys or carried by hand. Usually contained in a plastic bag at this stage, the cherries are weighed with a traditional scale (often painted a rich shade of sea green) and the volume entered against the producer’s name in the washing station’s logbook.
Once the cherries are logged, they are either carried straight to the hoppers or —as we at Catalyst Trade prefer and pay premiums for—dumped into float tanks so that lower-density cherries can surface and be skimmed off for lower grade coffees or local consumption. The higher-density cherries sink to the bottom, displaying their quality by their weight. After this, the remaining cherries are carried in wood-and-wire trays to drying tables to let the water drip off of them and receive careful hand sorting of any visible defects. At this stage in a typical natural process, the cherries will be moved to the beds, but for our Limited Oxygen Process, we add another critical fermentation step. The hand-sorted cherries are bagged and tied off in fresh GrainPro bags to be stored in a shaded area for a fermentation cycle. What happens next is kind of like magic.
Over the course of the specifically timed cycle, oxygen becomes limited within the environment, aided by the GrainPro barrier minimizing oxygen infiltration from the outside. While the oxygen within the environment is not entirely controlled, it is indeed limited (hence the name), and the resulting fermentation is of a pseudo-spontaneous nature, meaning impacted by naturally occurring and non-manipulated environmental yeasts. Many call this type of processing anaerobic, semi-anaerobic, or even carbonic maceration. However, we think of those as misnomers since all fermentation occurs anaerobically, and carbonic maceration refers to a very specific set of controlled processes employed in a kind of winemaking which are not possible to replicate in coffee processing. Our Limited Oxygen aims to steer clear of booze and over-fermented character, and instead intensifies clarity and boosts intrinsic fruit notes and sweetness in a coffee.
Over the past several seasons, we have really dialed in this processing method throughout the areas where we work in Ethiopia. Each farm, washing station, and microclimate present a unique set of variables, requiring careful adaptation in order for us to hit our intended flavor profile and quality targets. While ultimately “limited” in availability due to the labor and cost-intensive nature to produce, these yearly lots have become an in-house favorite.
It’s a kick to experience a Limited Oxygen from different areas of Ethiopia, as the cup always takes the intrinsic qualities of a coffee and turns up the volume to 11. Following this special fermentation cycle, the cherries are carried to open-air drying tables that are shaded by mesh canopies and then laid out to slowly let the sun kiss them and draw out their moisture content. In a step up from usual table materials, the drying beds are made from nylon mesh instead of bamboo weave covered with jute. Once the cherries reach their ideal drying level, they are bagged up and kept carefully separate as they are transported to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, for final export processing and shipping to the world.
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Please note: We roast to order three times a week. Your order will ship as promptly as possible, with the freshest roast possible. You will receive a notification when your order has been shipped or is ready to be picked up locally (if you choose pickup as your shipping option). If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.