Tasting Notes: Bergamot / Strawberry / Chocolate
Origin: Ethiopia [Gesha Village, Bench Maji]
Cultivar: Illubabor 1974
The isolated heirloom varietal Illubabor 1974 brings floral aromas, backed up by ripe berry and chocolate notes.
This selection was made by the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre, and focused on finding a strain that had a high level of disease resistance and good yields, while retaining very high quality in the cup. While lacking some of the overtly floral character of a true Geisha, Illubabor 1974 closely resembles the cup profile of mixed Ethiopian Heirloom coffees, with clean bergamot often found alongside soft stone fruit and tea-like notes. To create this lot, the Illubabor Forest varietal was planted on the Dimma plot of the farm, located between 1966 and 2019 metres above sea level, and processed using the natural method. This adds heavy complexity to the floral notes brought by the isolated heirloom varietal.
Gesha Village lies in the Bench Maji zone of South Western Ethiopia, not far from the border with South Sudan. This area, in the high altitude humid forests where the Great Rift Valley passes into South Sudan, is thought to be the birthplace of Arabica coffee, and is still home to great genetic diversity. Here at Gesha Village however, one varietal sits in the spotlight; Geisha. Adam Overton and Rachel Samuel first travelled to Ethiopia in 2007 to make a documentary about its unique method of coffee production, and fell in love with the country. They decided during that short trip that they would eventually move to the country to start producing coffee themselves. They found a 471 hectare plot of land in Bench Maji, further west than we normally find specialty coffee in Ethiopia, in a remote area of untouched high altitude forest. The wild forest remained as coffee was planted, maintaining as much as possible of the biodiversity so crucial to the Ethiopian mode of production, while also providing ample shade for the fragile Geisha trees.
Gesha Village is located only around 20 km from the Gori Gesha forest, where the hallowed varietal of the same name was first isolated by British researchers in 1931. When preparing Gesha Village, the team behind the project trekked into the forest and gathered seeds from the wild coffee trees growing there, selecting individual strains of Geisha to cultivate on their own land. This lot is made up of another varietal selected from those same forests, on an earlier expedition in 1974.