ProducerIsmael Hassen, Kayon Mountain Farm
Cup ProfileYuzu and mango, kaffir lime, hints of red berry and cacao bean
PreparationCertified Organic. Special red cherry preparation, 12-20 day Natural drying on raised beds.
The 2016/17 harvest from Kayon Mountain Farm has yielded this spectacular specially prepared dry-processed lot. It’s heavy on the yuzu and mango flavours with hints of berries and slides towards cacao beans, but allows the more nuanced aspects of the coffee to shine through.
These bolder flavours are entwined with subtle florals, which permeate the cup with a delicacy we associate with lots of this caliber. As we roasted a fair amount of Kayon Natural from the 2015/16 harvest, we were expecting this year’s crop to be just as good. We reserved 20 sacks of this season’s harvest months in advance, way before the arrival of pre-shipment samples. Our faith was not misplaced, and this new lot scores 90.25, making it our first 90+ coffee.
In a part of the world where most of the coffee is grown by smallholder farmers who pool their coffee at their nearest collection point Kayon Mountain Farm stands out as a self sufficient farm, with its own infrastructure for processing and drying. The farm was established by Ismael Hassen and his extended family in 2012 with one key aim in mind. Their vision is to produce coffee of the highest quality with a socially constructive and ecologically sound approach.
This means that the farm’s 110 hectares of shade-grown coffee are cultivated without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. While this approach is common practice in Ethiopia, Kayon is a certified organic farm. Endemic heirloom coffee trees are interspersed amongst larger wild trees. These provide shade and organic material to the precious coffee trees that slowly flourish under their lush canopy as well as protecting the soil from erosion and mineral depletion often associated with conventional single crop farming. This approach is the polar opposite of the industrialised monoculture that modern agriculture is capable of. The wooded environment from which the coffee is harvested, precludes the use of mechanised farming, meaning that manure that nourishes the ecosystem is spread manually, trees are maintained where needed by experienced farmers and the harvest is done by hand. The Esmael family harvest their cherries as they ripen, between October and February with the help of experienced pickers from the local Oromo community.
Making coffee that will score over 90 in the Coffee Quality Institute’s coffee grading system requires all sorts of factors to interact in a way that combine excellent environmental conditions, careful land management, a culture of fastidious attention to detail in cherry selection and post-harvest processing.
Recently completed processing infrastructure at the farm means that once the ripe cherries are harvested they can be processed on site with the utmost care and under Ismael’s direct supervision. This care and attention is evident when we consider the superb quality this lot displays in the cup. It’s also worth mentioning that it is quite an achievement to produce over 170 bags of coffee of such high quality. This in no tiny microlot, so you can expect speciality roasters all over Europe to jump at the opportunity to secure an allocation of this lot. Considering that the farm was founded in 2012 and planted from scratch, producing coffee of this quality is no small feat and is a testament to the experience, skill and dedication of the family.
Processing in this lot is straight-forward yet painstaking and is classified as Special Red Cherry Preparation. This indicates that the lot is produced with a clear focus on cup quality, resulting in a coffee overflowing with sweet, bright juiciness. Ripe cherries are sorted by density to remove defective fruits such as unripe or damaged fruit. The whole fruit is then spread over raised mesh beds to promote even drying. The fruit is then turned constantly over a period of 12 to 20 days which allows it to dry slowly and evenly. Turning in this way prevents over-fermentation which can lead to off-flavours and has the side benefit of offering many opportunities to remove defects as the fruit withers to a dry shell around the coffee beans.
Kayon Mountain Farm’s infrastructure and machinery are a valuable asset, with construction only recently completed. Ismael also buys the best cherry from his smallholder neighbours, thus becoming a valuable asset for a community centered around subsistence agriculture and gold mining.