Laga Lizu is a blend of four of the highest scoring lots from cooperatives in the Ngada District of Flores. These four coffees actually originate from four separate small local coffee farmer cooperatives, all part of an umbrella cooperative group who help manage coffee deliveries, and lot separation. This lot is a product of a coordinated effort between the coop managers and an intermediary we're working with in the region to identify, separate, and evaluate coffees from farms from the higher elevations (1300+ meters above sea level). These mountain peak areas are referred to as "Wolo"s, the main mountains being Wowomuda, Lobotbutu, and the active volcano, Babomuda. Much of the kinship groups in these areas are matrilineal, with land being passed through women. Because of this, you see a lot more women in leadership positions at the farm and cooperative levels (Marselina Walu in the first photo is the coop elder at Kagho Masa Cooperative). Most of the coffees are processed on hand cranked or motorized depulping machines on the farm, fermentation in buckets or small tanks, and then drying on raised drying beds. Because of the nutrient rich soils, they are able to grow coffee using fully organic farm practices, though they are not certified at this time.
An interesting sweet squash smell comes up in the dry fragrance when grinding the coffee, City+ roasting pulling out developed brown sugar sweetness, and chocolate undertones. The wet aroma has a bit more of a fruited side, not easily discernible smells but bringing up aspects of dark dried fruits like prune and fig, and cocoa smells come on strong. City+ makes or a tasty brewed cup, earthy chocolate tones providing a pleasant bittersweet contrast to the dark fruited notes, and while there are hints of tart stone fruit skins, they seem buried by the aforementioned. A sweet herbal side comes into view as the cup cools, tarragon and fresh basil hints and licorice note accenting the finish. Full City roasts are incredibly bittersweet, layers of bittering cocoa roast tones leaving little room for much else. I took one roast just beyond Full City but not quite to second crack (some oils showing on the beans with 24 hours rest), and I found the cup to be a little too bittering for my taste, lacking the level of sweetness tasted in my roast that was a shade lighter. Not bad as single origin espresso, but I would use more as a body/chocolate component in an espresso blend rather than offer on it's own.
The farm where this coffee was produced is over 40 years old, part of a larger set of plantations that were privately held since the late 1960s. Mr. Sero stepped in and bought one of the estates about eight years ago, replete with a processing facility which was built to process all seven estates some time ago. The 42 hectare farm sits at 1680 meters above sea level, and is still planted in the original tree stock, Blue Mountain Typica and Arusha types. Mr. Sero dry ferments his coffee for 36 hours, perhaps lending to the fruited characteristics found in the cup. The coffee is dried on tarps, which is not ideal, however they put great care in keeping the area clean, turning the coffee regularly to facilitate even drying. There is an old dry-mill on the premises too which is not currently in use, but perhaps an investment in the future. I found the final sort of this coffee to be quite nice, consistent bean size (approximately 15 - 17 screen), and with very few quaker beans. You can easily identify and pull out quaker beans because they are yellow, and look un-roasted. These are unripe cherries that made it through processing, a common occurrence in small numbers.
This most recent arrival of Kainantu Sero has complex layers of sugars and fruited sweetness, a bit more on the tropical side than our previous lot, and also finishes clean. A strong scent of unrefined sugars like brown rice and palm sugar comes through at City roast level, along with dried tropical fruits, and an herbal hint.. City+ roasts shine a light on Sero's fruited side, bringing about dark berry elements, and tropical fruit accents, like dried pineapple, papaya, and event a wisp of coconut pulp. Cardamom spice accents the cooling cup, and the finish is marked by notes of coconut water, cacao nibs, and a green herbal flavor that reminds me of Thai basil. Brewing will yield a thick-bodied coffee, and I would stick close to the middle roast levels, not wavering too far in either direction from the City+ range in order to capture this coffee's full sweetness potential, without obscuring complex top notes.
Obura-Wonenara District is not far from Goroka, and lies in the eastern highlands of the country. This coffee comes from a delivery station in the district, a collector who is set up to buy coffee from neighbors in the highland areas, altitudes ranging from 1700 - 1900 meters above sea level. The dominant cultivars in the region are old Typica types, and the coffee is fully wet processed. The sorted coffee looks beautiful, much of the defects hand-picked while the coffee is in wet parchment, and picked through again after being hulled of the thin parchment layer post drying. The few roasts we did looked very even coming out of the roaster, only a couple partial quakers in the bunch.
Obura-Wonenara has a rustic fruit and sugar sweetness that carries through the aromatic profile, and into the cup. With hot water added, the sweet smells run the range of caramelizing sugars to fruit filling (like a date bar). The cup flavors are in line with this description, impressive sugary sweetness provides a solid base to the cup profile, and plays off rustic earth tones like palm sugar in the aftertaste. City+ is a good starting point roast-wise, and produces darker dried fruit notes like black fig and prune, and an indistinct tropical aspect that add to the overall picture. Middle roasts (City+ to Full City) make a nice brewed cup, a complex mesh of earth-toned, fruited sweetness. Full City roast level adds a smokey cocoa layer to the mix, with fruit and bittersweetness still very much intact.
The village of Jagong Jeget is locted in the Aceh Province, an area that occupies the northern territory of Sumatra. This mountainous region is home to some fairly high peaks for Aceh, contributing farms for this lot ranging from 1400 meters above sea level to upwards of 1700. There is a central wet mill here where coffee is collected and processed. The operation is a step above most of the home-processing you might run across in Sumatra, and with washing and floating channels to help with separation and cleanliness, it's much more akin to a wet-mill operation we might see in Latin America for example. This is still fairly typical wet-hulling, where coffee is de-pulped and then dried for a single day down to only 50%, then moved to a centralized mill in Takengon where the wet parchment is peeled and then the coffee drying is finished down to 11-12% moisture (this method is called "Giling Basah", and you can read Tom's article about it here.)
The dry fragrance has an herbal side that reminds me of Lintong coffee, tarragon and basil accents for instance, and layered with smells of cooked pumpkin and banana. Generally, the wet aromatics are much more complex than dry fragrance, but I find the coffee smells are toned down a touch in the wet aroma, more focused around dark sugars, and rustic syrupy sweetness, with a woodsy earth tone underneath. The cup falls in line with what's sensed up front, and Jagong Jeget has big sweetness of date sugar and rice syrup, both of which are on the rustic side of minimally refined sugars. Earthy undertones are complimented by a baked apple note, and the finish is marked by sweet leather and pipe tobacco accent notes. Body is inky, and bittering dark cacao flavors proliferate with roast development. Jagong Jeget will function well as an Indo blend component, as it certainly sticks out on it's own as a fine example of grade 1 wet-hulled Sumatra.