December 2016 – Aricha


“What you really want when you think Yirgacheffe”


The final subscription instalment of 2016 comes to us from Ethiopia via Small Batch Roasting Co. in Melbourne, Australia. It’s a picture perfect, textbook example of what a Yirgacheffe coffee can be. It rounds out the year with delicacy and nuance – just how I like it! To receive a bag yourself, sign up to the subscription here.

Although St Ali and Sensory Lab recently purchased Auction Rooms the cafe (come say hi!), Small Batch Roasting co. was not acquired and is still independently owned and operated by Andrew Kelly and his awesome team. They’ve gone above and beyond with the information this month. We have the roast profile, roast ethos and justifications, a go-pro video of the roast, various brewing recipes, water spec, and taste notes specific to recipe. They went full on geek and I’m loving it. If you have any questions for them, they’ll be present in the comments below. Make sure to hit them up with a @smallbatchroast on the grams! Here’s what they have to say:


Country: Ethiopia
Region: Yirgacheffe
Varietal: Heirloom Varieties
Process: Washed
Harvest Period: November 2015 – January 2016 Altitude: 1800m-2000m above sea level

Aricha refers to a small town in the Yirgacheffe region – with this being a washing station lot from around that town. As with most coffees from Ethiopia, this lot is made up of heirloom varieties and grown largely organically (though not certified as such). This Aricha is a washed process coffee, meaning that the fruit surrounding the seed is totally removed prior to drying – this process tends to lend itself to a consistently clean, sweet, and refined flavour profile.

Sourcing coffee in Ethiopia can be something of a challenge – while you can purchase directly from estates, the smaller cooperative lots and washing stations such as this one are much harder to purchase from without bucketloads of bureaucracy through unions and the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Most of the time, purchasing in Ethiopia involves having to approve a demonstrative sample (hoping that the coffee that is milled and exported is represented accurately in the sample), and there is a 150 bag minimum to be able to purchase. For this reason, exporter choice is an incredibly valuable link in the chain of getting quality coffee from Ethiopia, that enables us to purchase smaller bag lots, and have more buying power.

This particular lot of washed Aricha (Grade 1) was secured for us by BNT Trading in Addis Ababa. BNT is an exporting agent who secures lots from the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), the auction system where the majority of Ethiopian coffee is sold. The ECX system unfortunately doesn’t allow for much transparency – there’s been talk of geo-tagging being introduced to help with this issue, but it’s yet to be a reality in day-to-day trading. We have worked with BNT Trading for a number of years now – they assist us in getting high quality coffee out of the country. While the washing station identity isn’t as clear as we’d like, it’s easy to find out what amount in Ethiopian birr per kilo the smallholder farmers received for their cherries (and make sure that producers are paid appropriately).

Fear not, however – Ethiopian coffee is notorious for its high quality and largely organic practices across the country. This year – assuming safety allows it within the current government declared state of emergency – we’ll go earlier and on several occasions throughout harvest and hassle more generally to also buy from some cooperatives within in Limu/Jimma region who we’ve previously met with but were unable to secure lots from.


Our general approach to roasting any coffee is to roast it in a way that it displays only the natural characteristics, maximising sweetness and acidity the coffee holds without tainting it with techniques that could mask the potential the coffee has to offer.

With Aricha we roasted it on our 15kg 1960s Vittoria opposed to our refurbished 15kg Probat. The Vittoria it is a perforated drum roaster and heat transfer is more directly convective than on a classic drum roaster. This allows us to have more dynamic heat exchange during the roasting process and allows us to manipulate any gas changes more effectively.

This means a few things: We can charge each roast at a lower temperature, attain a smoother rate of rise, have more control over our gas increase just after turning point, and make more discrete gas changes depending on environmental variables (weather, coffee density)

This roaster also does a much better job at attaining smoother curves without requiring hotter charge temps, this allows us to have greater consistency between roasts and coffees.

To gain more control during the roasting process we undercharge at 12kg on a 15kg roaster, allowing us to gain much more momentum in the initial stages, while also accomplishing even cooking of inner bean and outer bean throughout the roast.

In order to maintain steady RoR, our gas changes are much more frequent. After bean temperature reaches 150 degrees, we taper our gas every 10 degrees until before first crack. After first crack, we continue to make minute changes to maintain a positive RoR until the roast has ended. On that note, we don’t want our RoR to drop below 1.5 degrees/minute until the last 10 seconds of the roast which introduces undesirables to the coffee.

Click here to see a video of the Vittoria roaster’s burner in action!


Hand pour V60. Boiling kettle. Same grind setting for all four brews. Brew times will vary depending on grind size/agitation/filters

2 Pulse – shorter brew time (3minutes)
– Start timer, 50g bloom, agitation to ensure even saturation.
– At 30seconds, add 200g of water, stirring for even saturation.
– Take total brew water weight to 250g. Stir one circle for vortex.

3 Pulse – longer brew time (5 minutes)
– Start timer, 50g bloom, agitation to ensure even saturation.
– At 30seconds, add 100g of water, stirring for even saturation.
– Take total brew water weight to 150g. Stir one circle for vortex. – At 60seconds, add 100g of water.
– Take total brew water weight to 250g. Stir one circle for vortex.

1.30/20.14 – 2 Pulse – Light in flavour, delicate florals, touch of grassiness from under extraction, overall pleasant and drinkable.

1.40/21.50 – 3 Pulse – Delicious, clear and present rose, lemon cordial. On cooling the tannins emerged more which pushed the lemon into lime territory. Very sweet. Increased extraction was achieved by extending brew time.

1.42/19.09 – 2 Pulse – Sweet, heavier flavours though. Citrus transitioned into more stonefruit, dark plum. Hint of apple and red currant.

1.54/20.30 – 3 Pulse – Intense, sticky fruit flavours, slight melon, low acidity. Chocolate and fruit cake on cooling.


Water parameters that we generally operate from: 50gH, 50kH. The usual bicarb/epsom recipe will do the trick here!

Here it is again, inspired by the Water for Coffee book. All you need is bicarb soda (baking soda, NOT baking powder), epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), and distilled/deionised/ultra-pure water (don’t worry about the “not for drinking” labels. That’s just if you consume a lot without added minerals). All ingredients are super cheap and readily available.

  1. Add 8.6g bicarb, and 25g epsom to 500g distilled water. This is your concentrate.
  2. Shake the concentrate and make sure it’s all dissolved. Might need a few hours or higher temp to fully dissolve.
  3. Add 2g of the concentrate to 500g distilled water. This is your brewing water.
  4. Boil and brew!
  5. Save the concentrate for future brews!

Comments and Questions

Aaron, Eileen, and the Small Batch team will be here, in the comments, ready to chat and answer questions about the coffee, roast, brewing, and errthing! I cannot *wait* to share January’s coffee with you! It may be the rarest yet. Happy holidays!

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