Ethiopia for the price of Brazil?!? What gives? Settle in and let us explain, since this is a bit of a special coffee for Micah (our buyer and roaster) and it requires a brief explanation of the Ethiopian coffee grading system.
Ethiopian coffee is graded through a somewhat idiosyncratic system that includes cup score, green coffee colour, green coffee fragrance, and a number of other factors. The coffee is graded from 1 to 7, with G1 being the top, and G6 and G7 being for domestic consumption, not export. Typically, specialty roasters will only consider G1 coffees, leaving coffees like this G3 to be sold in massive multiple-container lots to Nestle and the like for generic 'Ethiopian coffee'. Very little thought is given to the cup score for these coffees as long as it's defect-free.
The cup score is usually around 80-82 on a G3, but if you cup hundreds of lots, you'll find a few that score 85-86 that you can rescue from just being blended into random Nespresso capsules. Historically, these were scored down in the Ethiopian system, for reasons that are less important to us-- such as green colour, bean size consistency, etc. In a fortunate turn of events, however, these diamonds in the rough became part of Ally's 'core coffee' program named after national trees, which Micah was in charge of setting up for Ethiopia when he was Ally's buyer in Africa, hence the name 'Acacia'. Micah's goal was to buy G3 coffees that cupped over 85 points for a higher cherry price. This ends up being an amazing deal for both the farmer and the roaster. We get delicious Guji regionally blended coffee for the price of Brazil, and the farmers make at least 100 birr per kilo of cherry, which is a really good rate for G3. We paid £6.33/kg for this coffee, which means the farmers are actually getting a percentage far above standard for their cherry.
While this coffee isn't quite as delicious and nuanced as the single-farmer Ethiopian lots we have for sale, it's amazing value for money, and in our minds it's part of a larger conversation about raising the floor for coffee producers. In specialty, we frequently buy the very best 10% of what a farmer produces, and then leave the rest for them to worry about. What a farmer actually needs is to sell the 90% at a fair price in order to stay viable. Buying coffees like this Acacia and using them in things like our Stable blend is striking a blow for sustainable livelihoods in a difficult landscape. To our minds, this is another hit out for redistributive trade! We think the coffee rewards you with notes of Red Apple, and Marigold.