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September is upon us and this month we are excited to feature our first Ethiopian microlot in quite a while. This single-farm offering comes to us from Adam Banata, a talented grower from a lesser known but quickly rising region of coffee’s birthplace. In addition, we attempt to lure Austin’s annoying but loveable avian friends back from Summer migration with this month’s Roaster’s Choice selection, Grackle Blend. 

Microlot: Adam Banata, Ethiopia

Adam Banata grows and processes natural coffees on his four hectare farm in the highlands of Nensebo, West Arsi. Often lumped in with its better-known neighbors, Sidama to the west and Guji to the south, West Arsi has been designated a unique coffee-growing origin by the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) in recent years and is making a name for itself in the international specialty coffee market. In 2020, coffees from Nensebo occupied four of the top ten spots in Ethiopia’s first Cup of Excellence competition. 

On his farm, Mr. Banata and his family selectively handpick ripe, red fruit and lay it to dry on their 23 raised drying beds. It is turned hourly and is covered midday to prevent scorching and overnight to prevent condensation. Once dry, after about 16 days, he bags the coffee and stores it in a warehouse on the farm to rest and homogenize for at least 60 days before transporting it to the dry mill to be hulled and prepared for export.

The coffees grown on Mr. Banata’s farm are JARC varieties 74110, 74112, and 74158. These coffees are cultivated and distributed by JARC (the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre), one of Ethiopia’s primary coffee research institutions, and have been selected based on their cup quality, disease resistance, and yield potential. There has been a major push in recent years to identify and commercialize Ethiopia’s thousands of wild and native coffees, often referred to as heirloom or landrace varieties. This is a huge undertaking as it is believed that there are more than 10,000 genetically unique coffee varieties growing in Ethiopia.

In addition to coffee, Mr. Banata grows a variety of fruits and a local, carbohydrate-rich plant called enset or false banana. All of his crops, including coffee, are de-facto organic as he uses no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. 

Roaster’s Choice: Grackle Blend

It’s time once again to honor Austin’s favorite seasonal residents, the grackles. Like an annoying little brother they are seemingly always there, invading our personal space, squawking loudly and endlessly, and pecking away at our leftovers and our patience—until one day they grow up and move out. Only in that moment of peace and silence do we realize how much we miss them. The grackle is a symbol of our city. They are a part of our landscape that is missing during the brutal summer months when they migrate north in search of cooler temperatures. 

So this September we attempt to summon them back for the fall by featuring our classic Grackle Blend. Primarily composed of dark-roasted Central and South American coffees, the blend also features a small amount of light-roasted natural Ethiopian coffee for a hint of berry juiciness to complement its dark chocolate profile. And unlike its migratory namesake, you can easily find Grackle Blend in Austin (and on our website) all year round. 

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