Yukro used to be synonymous with “trash coffee,” representing some of the absolute worst coffee Ethiopia produced. In recent years, however, they’ve gone from zeroes to heroes with the help of some amazing coffee people and, in doing so, have attracted the likes of specialty roasters like Nordskogen Coffee out of Minneapolis. Before you jump to read more about this interesting Ethiopian coffee, have a look at these links to learn more about Nordskogen, purchase this coffee and check out Nordskogen’s other reviews:
NORDSKOGEN COFFEE ETHIOPIA YUKRO
Matt from Nordskogen was super excited about this coffee in emails we exchanged, so I was really looking forward to checking it out. His description on Nordskogen’s website reads, “Unique and delicate. White flowers draped in velvet and juice. Glorious.” My interest was piqued and I found a pretty interesting story behind this coffee as I started to research it. This is a washed coffee consisting of heirloom varietals growing in the 1900-2100masl range. The Yukro Cooperative is in the Gera Woreda within the Agaro region of Jimma, which is in western Ethiopia. At one time, this coffee was the most despised grade of all Ethiopian coffees, called “Jimma 5.” It was dried, often for weeks at a time, directly on the ground, producing coffee that was defective in every way (and not in the wet-hulled Indonesian “defective” way that coffee drinkers have often come to love and expect). Tom from Coffeeshrub and Aleco from Red Fox Coffee Merchants saw the potential in Jimma, though. With good soil, excellent coffee trees and just a lack of knowledge and guidance, Tom and Aleco banded with Technoserve, an NGO working with African coffee farmers, to up Yukro’s game. In the meantime, they were able to provide the cooperative with a business advisor and they secured the ability to deal with the co-op directly, instead of through the Ethiopia Coffee Exchange. Long story short, this means better prices for the farmers and a co-op that produces excellent coffee and makes enough money and is run properly so the farmers get paid, too. That’s not always the case in Ethiopian co-ops. 1
Now, more about this coffee itself. As stated, this is a washed coffee, so we are going to expect some floral notes and a more delicate cup than an Ethiopian natural. I have to say I was a little let down by this coffee at first, perhaps because my emails with Matt from Nordskogen built up my expectations a little too much. Once I recovered my footing, however, I did discover a nice, delicate, delicious cup of coffee and what more can I really ask for?
I tried this both as my usual pourover method as well as using the Aeropress Stubby recipe. The Aeropress didn’t work for me at all on this coffee, so I’m not even going to talk about that. For the pourovers, I used my usual 1:16 ratio (28g coffee to 450g water). I usually get a 3:30-3:45 brew time, but this one seemed to go a little longer (I didn’t time it) because the beans are dense and lightly roasted, so they tend to compact at the bottom of the notNeutral Gino and slow the drip time some. Nonetheless, this yielded some pretty nice cups.
This was really a pretty straightforward coffee for me. I would call it delicate and clean but it also has a depth of flavor. There were some nice floral notes in the flavors and aroma and a sweet lemon acidity to brighten the cup. I found it to be really sweet but with a dry finish and a pretty mild aftertaste. Oddly enough I got some minty undertones in my cup that I drank while writing this, but I didn’t notice that in my other brews. The body is light on this coffee, but it’s not watery or overly “tea-like” like some Ethiopian naturals can be. While the coffee is light and delicate the sweetness has a certain weight and intensity to it that seems at odds, in a good way, with the delicate flavors.
I also found a bit of an orange juice character in both the sweetness and acidity of the cup that gave it a juicy mouthfeel. This is an easy coffee to drink way too fast, especially as the cup cools down, because it’s so inviting and simple, and that juiciness invites sip after sip! Overall, once I tempered my expectations and stopped looking for this coffee to transform my life and instead weighed it on its own merits, I really enjoyed this coffee. It’s different from the usual washed Ethiopian Yirgachefes (which I also like) and for a coffee that was utterly undrinkable a handful of years ago, it’s a huge achievement!