bombe washing station

background

Bombe (or Abore) washing station is named after Bombe mountain in the Sidama region, which is located south from the washing station. The Bombe site is the culmination of several years of hard work and preparation from Sidama coffee man Asefa Dukamo and his family, who have been our close partners of Catalyst for a number of harvests. Each year working with Asefa, Catalyst has had the privilege of promoting ongoing traceability efforts. At first, regional mixed lots, then individual washing stations, then certain groups of smallholders within each lot separated by village. All that was missing was a dedicated site to allow the partnership to become even more focused. Enter Bombe Station! 

Starting 2017/2018 harvest, producers from the Shantawene, Bombe, and Keramo communities delivered their very best cherries to the Bombe site, where they were separated into specific fermentation tanks and drying locations. The layout and good management of Bombe washing station allows for special processing techniques, such as shaded fermentation tanks and washing channels as well as mesh shaded drying tables, to be used with the coffees. The wet mill is well-organized and run by a team including member Atkilt Dejene, a female agronomist who has also worked with the award-winning Gesha Village project, among others such as processing specialist, Eyasu Bekele, whom we worked with for the Reko Koba project several years running. The volume capacity at Bombe washing station is at max 2.5 million kgs of cherries, but for the past couple year, this site has maintained a strict dedication to producing outstanding quality above quantity.  

 

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The producers of Bombe live high in the lush and lovely Bombe mountain valley. They are part of a member organization consisting of 667 producers in various parts of the mountain range, which also include producers from Keramo and Shantawene. Catalyst has worked with this group since before it was officially founded. The last two years, these producers chose to process their coffees through the Bombe Washing Station to new quality specifications. Like the other coffees from this site, the Bombe coffees are always stand out on the cupping table. It is dense coffee, with heavy concentrations of the smaller screen sizes (the majority of the coffee screen sizes at 14-15), just a touch larger than the average screen sizes found in the Shantawene and Keramo lots, which also reflects a slightly larger concentration of the Mikicho variety than the other coffees have. Mikicho is easily identified by its larger cherries with wavy leaves, the seeds appearing elongated and canoe-shaped. No doubt, this is a distant relative to the Gesha variety, and the prominent cup characteristics that stand out in all Bombe lots are lush, tropical fruit tones and delicate florals.

Prior to the 2017/18 harvest, this producing group delivered coffee cherries to a different washing station nearby, called Shantawene washing station, where we first encountered the coffees and purchased them as mixed lots. Up until the 2017/2018 harvest, all coffees from Bombe, Keramo and Shantawene villages were processed together and sold under the name of Shantawene. We were noticing different cup dynamics from the cherries that came from different areas, and eventually began to isolate coffees by village. This led to the move to Bombe site washing station and getting even more isolation in the lots. For the past couple seasons, all producers Catalyst works with from Bombe, Keramo and Shantawene all deliver cherries to the more centralized Bombe Station.

Catalyst has worked for several years with the producers of Shantawene, the first season beginning in 2015. Shantawene village is situated between the village of Bombe and the Bombe mountain. The producers are part of a member organization consisting of 667 producers in various parts of the mountain range, which also include producers from Bombe and Keramo. Work started with the group since before it was officially founded. For the last two years, these member producers deliver their coffee cherries to the Bombe Washing Station for processing to new quality specifications. Catalyst always anticipates every lot from Shantawene each year, as they are to them the quintessential Ethiopian coffee – full of dynamic herbals and sparkling acidity, with articulate fruits. Like Keramo, it is a dense coffee, with heaviest concentrations comprised of the smaller screen sizes (the majority of the coffee screen sizes at 14-15). The larger screen sizes are a treat for the very few roasters who get them. In screens 16 and 17, we find heavy concentrations of fruit juice and lovely tea-like subtleties that the smaller screen sizes tend to hide with heavy handed perfumes.

Prior to the 2017/18 harvest, this producing group delivered coffee cherries to a different washing station nearby, called Shantawene washing station, where the coffee was first encountered and purchased as mixed lots. Up until the 2017/2018 harvest, all coffees from Bombe, Keramo and Shantawene villages were processed together and sold under the name of Shantawene. We were noticing different cup dynamics from the cherries that came from different areas, and eventually began to isolate coffees by village. This led to the move to Bombe site washing station and getting even more isolation in the lots. For the past couple seasons, all producers we work with from Shantawene, Bombe and Keramo all deliver cherries to the more centralized Bombe Station.

The producers of Keramo, who live high in the beautiful Bombe mountains, are so remote that the area does not have its own central washing station. They are part of a member organization consisting of 667 producers in various parts of the mountain range, which also include producers from Bombe and Shantawene. We’ve worked with this group since before it was officially founded. The last two years, the Keramo producers chose to process their coffees through the Bombe Washing Station to the new quality specifications. This coffee continues to stand out as a team favorite on the cupping table. It is a dense coffee, with heavy concentrations of the smaller screen sizes (the majority of the coffee screen sizes at 13-14) which is highly unusual and reflects the higher elevations where the coffee is grown.

Prior to the 2017/18 harvest, this producing group brought their coffees to a different washing station nearby, called Shantawene washing station, where we first encountered the coffees and purchased them as mixed lots, all sold under the name of Shantawene in the 2015-17 harvests. We were noticing different cup dynamics from the cherries that came from different areas, and eventually began to isolate coffees by village. This led to the move to Bombe washing station and getting even more isolation in the lots. Catalyst’s Quality and Sourcing Director, Michael McIntyre, says, “Coffees from the producers in Keramo Village are among the best I’ve ever had. Washed lots are dynamic, with layered botanical and perfumed characteristics, while the naturals maintain intensely articulated fruits and florals—so far in our experiments, the honeys are a lovely mash up of the two, where you might have champagne and sangria in the washed and natural, respectively, you’ll find red and white vermouths in the honey.”

seasonal

local variety Setami, mikicho, 72/158, 74/110

1850-2100+ m.a.s.l.

washed, honey & natural

collaboration

In 2015 we were introduced to Michael and Emily from Catalyst as friends of the Cameroon Boyo project. Back then we always had the idea of working more closely with Ethiopian coffees. We had the chance to follow their work, and after testing out several Ethiopian lots, we decided to import our first container in 2017. The work they achieve with specific washing stations fits in the vision from The Coffee Quest to integrate traceablility, collaboration and quality into the supply chain. Visits to Ethiopia have only confirmed the progress they are making! As direct partners they provide the missing link in terms of cultural understaning and local efforts to provide consistency in quality, with the added bonus of receiving Organic certified lots and crazy honey processed coffees.

Catalyst purchases 100% of the coffees from Asefa’s Bombe site. This gives them a unique opportunity to co-labor, integrate direct investments from customers, and build the future within a partnership. Countless hours are spend planning and training the talented coffee professionals in Daye. Sami, the site manager, and the rest of the Bombe team work hard on isolating day lots and implement meticulous methods for keeping track of the information on each lot. Catalyst tells us there remains a lot potential in expanding the efforts to isolate day lots, and moving forward to keep most them seperated. Each group can therefore provide different lots per process. Beyond these investments, the Bombe site is planning to install a Penagos Eco Pulper (Colombian), for which funds have been raised. Implementing this will allow even greater control over the processing, through more precision in the removal of mucilage, decreasing fermentation times and significantly cutting down on water usage. In some parts of Ethiopia, implementing an eco pulper to replace the traditional disc pulper has reduced water usage by as much as 3 millon liters in the height of the season.

quality

For the 2017/2018 production cycle (Bombe’s first!), Asefa and his team implemented drying tables with high quality shade mesh canopy for slower and more gentle drying of the cherries. Every single Natural  from this site in 2018 was dried in this way—and those lots were extremely limited! The extra expense is really worthwhile: the shade-dried naturals have enhanced sweetness and fruit juice character in the cup. Broadsheet Coffee in Massachusetts won a 2019 Good Food Award with the one of the natural processed microlots from this site’s first production, while Still Vibrato in Oregon won as wel l with a washed microlot from the same site, different village. Many other awards have been received already by these coffees, including the natural Keramo, which won the gold medal in the Single Origin Espresso category of the Golden Bean 2018. Now it’s time for European roasters to work with these lots!