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This Harar is very sweet, from berry reduction to earth-toned raw sugars, and still encompasses a bit of the leathery/rustic sweetness that you'd expect. Body is huge, and the sweetness fruited to rice syrup. The cooled cup is so complex. City+ to Full City+.
This is our first Harar offering in quite some time. Harar is the ancient Western capital, a walled city that has been a source of intrigue for centuries. Misraq Hararghe (pronounced Harar-Gey) is the name of the greater Harar area that the city commanded, and it seems that"Gey" is a shortened name local Harari people use for the area. True Harar coffees are from the higher Eastern areas, but many coffees sold as Harar from the Western area. We try to focus only on the more traditional East coffees. Harar coffees are dry-processed out of tradition and necessity. The zone is much more arid than the Western or Southern coffee lands of Ethiopia, and there simply isn't enough water for wet process fermentation and washing. There is a lot of competition for Harar coffees, which sadly has been a disincentive to quality; if farmers or millers know they can sell anything at a good price, why pick coffee fruit selectively? Why keep batches separate? The result can be coffee with many quakers (under-ripes) that affect the flavor and roast quality. This batch is not a farm direct lot; it was sourced through the Ethiopia Coffee Exchange and stood out because of the nice cup quality. Then we had it prepared with extra hand-picking at a mill in Addis Ababa. The resulting coffee still has all the complex wild and rustic notes of Harar, but also ample sweetness from the initial sip through the long aftertaste.
The rustic quality is expressed as earthy-sweet syrups and ripe berry notes all along the profile, from aromatics to cup flavors. The dry fragrance has a smell of strawberry and blackberry syrups, fruity and sweet, with hints of almond meal and baking spice. There's an earthy quality too, a greenish scent of forrest floor underneath. The sweetness expands with hot water, and the steam smells of a mix of fruit reduction, rice syrup, and musky raw sugars. The cup is very sweet, mixed-berry jam and a hint of papaya, with an overlay of earth-toned sugars. A strong note of dried apple comes out as the cup cools, tart and even slightly "winey" notes that dried green apples have. Some of the more "rustic" elements include leather, and aromatic wood, flavor notes we find in coffees from Yemen, though not over bearing, and a bit more in balance with sweetness/bittersweetness (especially as you near Full City). It's a complex brewed coffee - sweet, rustic, and with elegance to the top notes, really one of the better Harar selections we've tasted in a while. It's uniquely "Harar", a region once thought to offer the best examples of a naturally-processed coffees in all of Ethiopia.