Danche Chelbesa Carbonic Maceration
Introducing our first carbonic maceration processed coffee
Region: Uraga, Guji
Process: Carbonic Maceration
Tropical fruit, raspberry, rosewater and jasmine
Info & Process
We're very excited to introduce our first carbonic maceration processed coffee, produced by the very capable hands of SNAP coffee. The carbonic maceration process involves fermenting the freshly-harvested coffee cherries in an anaerobic environment (without oxygen) for 30-60 hours. This results in an incredible development of the flavors in the coffee!
We were amazed at the strong jasmine aroma emanating from the freshly brewed Danche Chelbesa when we first sampled it. It is perhaps our most vibrantly flavor-forward coffee to date. We hope you enjoy!
Immediately following harvest, these cherries spend 60-90 hours fermenting in an anaerobic environment, in water. Once the whole cherries have fermented sufficiently, the water is released and the cherry is sent for depulping and a light washing. After this, the coffee is dried on raised beds for 10-14 days. Read more about carbonic maceration below!
If you're wondering if Danche Chelbesa is somehow related to Worka Chelbesa, your impulse is correct! Both coffees are from the kebele, or community, of Worka Chelbesa, located high in the mountains of the Gedeb region of Ethiopia. The area has risen to prominence over the last decade. This is in large part why Negussie Debela (founder of SNAP) decided to invest in processing stations here when he entered the Ethiopian coffee scene in 2016.
This coffee is our second in a new series of exceptional quality or interesting variety / processing methods for which we have introduced a brand new blue label to our Canyon family! The first coffee was our Luís Herrera natural gesha.
What is Carbonic Maceration?
All coffee processing involves a period of fermentation.
This aids in the process of removing the seeds from the fruits of the cherry, and can also contribute to flavor. The carbonic maceration technique used at Danche Chelbesa is similar to how some carbonic natural wines are produced, particularly in the Beaujolais region of France. As applied in Ethiopia, this method involves submerging whole coffee cherries in water under weighted screens. Some cherries at the bottom of the pile are crushed in the process, and the yeast released from these cherries produces the subsequent fermentation.
The Danche Chelbesa cherries spend 60-90 hours in the water. Once the whole cherries have fermented sufficiently, the water is released and the cherry is sent for depulping and a light washing. After this, the coffee is dried on raised beds for 10-14 days.
As with Beaujolais and other "natural" wines, this style of carbonic maceration is known for rounding out the citric acidity, but also bringing complex fruit notes forward without some of the wilder fruit notes found in natural processing.
What's "natural process" in coffee?
The natural process is the oldest method of processing coffee. In this process, once the cherries are harvested, they are set out to dry in the sun—fruit and all. To ensure quality, the cherries are carefully monitored. They’re often raked to promote even drying, and covered at night or when it rains. Once the cherry’s moisture level has diminished to around 11%, the cherries are depulped (usually through a machine), sorted by size and weight, and packed up into GrainPro sacks to be transported to roasters like us!
This is in contrast to "washed" process — the other most common way to process coffee. In washed coffee, cherries are typically depulped right after harvest. This removes most, but not all, of the fruit body and mucilage surrounding the seeds (popularly referred to as "beans"). What remains is then fermented, before being washed again to remove the remaining fruit body from the seeds. The seeds, having now been completely removed from and cleaned of fruit body and mucilage, are commonly set out to dry on patios.
Both of these processes vary greatly across countries, regions and processing stations. Differences have largely to do with what works best for a given climate, and the hard costs involved in building and operating processing stations. However, good processing is a critical component of producing great coffee. It determines how the flavors of the coffee will come out, as well as how the coffee will hold up and age over time prior to roasting.
About the Producer
SNAP Coffee was founded by Negussie Debela, an Ethiopian entrepreneur who had been known for his success in the computer / digital industries prior to coffee. In 2016, Negussie was in Minnesota when he had a pour over of an Ethiopian coffee at a specialty coffee shop. Amazed by the quality, he decided to get into the coffee industry.
He returned to Ethiopia and dove in wholeheartedly, with a goal of becoming one of the best quality exporters of coffee in Ethiopia. He began by touring coffee regions and studying farming and processing, and then enlisting the help of Abenezer Asafaw, a young coffee professional, as his quality and coffee manager.
Together, they began managing coffee processing sites around Nensebo, Yirgacheffe, and Guj, bought land to build their own processing sites, and in 2019, they completed their own dry mill.