June is a great month in the coffee calendar because it signals the arrivals of fresh-crop Ethiopians. For those who enjoy complex coffee, there’s no other origin that comes close. This washed lot from Genji Challa is a classic that would be best suited to filter or immersion brewing. Expect complex florals on the nose followed by bright lemon and peach characters in the cup.
Genji Challa was established in 2019 and is a sister washing station to the famous Nano Challa. It was born out of a need of more space as the membership grew and volumes of cherry being delivered to Nano Challa exceeded their capacity. There are now over 600 members split between the two sites situated in natural forest in the Ethiopian highlands.
This success and growth originates from when in 2010 Nano Challa was chosen to be part of the Technoserve Coffee Initiative, founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Technoserve provided technical assistance and training to producer groups, and helps coordinate agronomists and business advisors to help improve coffee quality, assist in the management of debt, reinvestment and the fair distribution of funds to each cooperative member. The impact of the initiative was huge, as it helped cooperatives like Nano Challa transition from natural processing to washed, via the building of washing stations. These allowed them to completely change the market and quality they had access to and the premiums of Grade 1 Ethiopian Specialty Coffees.
Farmer members cultivate coffees at altitudes between 1850 and 2100 metres, and have on average around 3 hectares of land each. As is the case across Ethiopia, most of the coffees grown locally are organic by default, and consist mostly of old, naturally indigenous heirloom varieties, punctuated by smaller areas of an improved native varietal called 1274.
Once producers deliver coffee to the washing station, cherries are floated before being depulped using a Penagos Eco Pulper. The coffee is then soaked in clean water in concrete tanks for 8 hours before drying; firstly skin-dried and sorted under shade, before being sun dried for approximately 10 days on raised African drying beds.