While the world is going crazy over Geshas, avid coffee hunters discovered an extraordinary rising star from a champion producing village called Buku Abel. For two years in a row in 2016 and 2017, Buku Abel emerged won first place in the natural coffee bracket of ToH Ethiopia (Taste of Harvest Ethiopia). It further surprised many when it won the champion title in the ToH Africa 2018, the regional African competition.
Buku Abel is a small village in the southeast of Ethiopia with an extremely high altitude of 2300masl; it is located in the Hambela woreda within the Guji zone. Like many other coffees from different parts of Ethiopia, the coffee varietal in Buku Abel was originally found by the farmer specifically around the local area, which then becomes an heirloom passed down from generation to generation.
The coffee trees in Buku Abel are often planted among shady banana plantations which also support the life of various free-ranging livestock. Due to the cold climate and extreme altitude, the coffees grown in Buku Abel is slow to maturation, leading to smaller fruit sizes (similar to smaller mokka varietal) and very hard coffee seeds with high density.
When Zoe Shih (the Q-grader from Ama El Roma, also a COE panel judge) first cupped Buku Abel, she had an immediate impression of drinking a bottle of perfume full of the smell of garland lily and camellia. The floral notes were so amazing that she gave it the nickname “The Peony” as a tribute to the king of flowers.
Just like how Gesha coffees got its name for being found and grown in the Gesha Village, the Q-grade believes that Buku Abel will soon catch up to become one of the most sought-after coffees.
As a family-owned estate, the farmers have collected more than hundreds of years of experience in harvesting the fruits at just the right time to make sure that the cherries are red as blood, because coffee harvested at this stage (fully ripe, just before it turns black) often promises high sweetness.
To avoid earthy flavours and extra moisture from seeping into the coffee, raised bed woven from bamboo strips are used as the drying bed, allowing the coffees to dry under the full sun for 8-12 days.