Ethiopia Illubabor Sota

Ethiopia Illubabor Sota

Farm Description

Sota is a newly formed cooperative that sits just a few kilometers outside of Bedele town in Ethiopia's Western-most province of Illubabor. Well, maybe 'newly formed' isn't entirely accurate since they actually established their initial cooperative in 2000. In 2010, however, they became part of an initiative we set up in Ethiopia that assists at the cooperative level. The program is administered by a non-governmental organization and helps to coordinate agronomists, finance processing equipment, train leadership, and facilitate more efficient business practices including profit re-investment and fair distribution to farm workers. Processing is done mechanically to remove the fruit from the beans. The beans are then soaked in fiberglass bins overnight to clean any remaining solids before dried on raised beds. Roughly 170 members form the cooperative membership although that number is expected to grow with the recent financial success of the group. Having only produced naturals prior to receiving the processing equipment producers now are able to sell their clean parchment at levels 3 and 4 times what they sold at in the past.

Cupping Notes

Sota is not your standard Ethiopian coffee. It's a cup profile personified by its dark sweetness. The fragrance of the dry grounds is very sweet like tamarind and red honey with background notes of powdered and high percentage cacao. Orange cream soda effervesced from the crust of the coffee the City roast while more sweet aromatics like caramel and toffee burst from our Full City roast. Dark fruit notes of black currant and raisin appear in the break along with freshly baked fig bar. At a City roast level, the cup profile is laden with date, raisin, and more dark fruit flavor. The acidity is beautifully effervescent, reminiscent of cola, as well as in terms of the flavor characteristics. More raisin and dried fig were present in the Full City roast. Sota's mouthfeel is supple and buoyant from roast to roast, but it's tough to nail down detailed flavor descriptors so I can only refer to the weight itself. Considering the balance between sweetness, mouth feel, and acidity Sota will make for an outstanding espresso.



Lot Size

50 60kg bags

Roast Recommendations

City/City+ roasts really bring out the complex fruit and refined acidity, but this coffee is great through to Full City. Great SO Espresso.


Wet Process



Grade & Appearance

.2 d/300gr / 14+ screetn


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This coffee has sold out. The review is provided for reference purposes only.

Sota Cooperative member

Electric (energy source and color) mechanical washer, Sota

Pit stop along the way, Bedele Brewery

Monkey'n around in the courtyard, Bedele Brewery


#1 Processing

So, this isn't really "wet processed", is it? Is "mechanically processed more accurate"? Does the soaking period float the under-ripe cherry away?

#2 No, there's still soaking, so

No, there's still soaking, so it's wet processed. The mechanical removal of the fruit is just the depulping. The soaking is done in bins, so there's no real floating away.

#3 Fermentation

I guess the angle I'm seeing from is how is best to communicate the continuum of fermentation to the average coffee drinker. The whole "wet, honey, and dry" oversimplifies such an significant process, as you wrote at length about here on naturals. I'm seeing this on the heels of roasting the three process Kilimanjaro for a shop that is cycling through the three, inviting the public to learn more about processing. Also, I just attended CCC's Fruit bombs and Fermentation presentation where I had an opportunity to chat at length with Tim Hill about everything from mechanical depulping to shaded 28 day drying. It seems with little to no fruit attached, there must be little to no fermentation in the soak tanks. So, I'm thinking how do I communicate all this to my customers. In some ways wet vs. dry might be sufficient. Similarly, while Light vs. Dark doesn't tell the whole story of a roast, but for most folks, it's enough.

#4 Dude, you're awesome

This is a pretty great point that you raise. But i would caution that it's important to remember that in the wet process that fermentation is just about removing the remainder of the fruit, and is a lot different than the reactions and development that occurs during drying, especially of pulped natural or dry processed coffee. Fermentation in this case is just cleaning the coffee, and yes, if not done properly can impart off flavors, but i would argue that drying has a much more significant impact. In terms of talking to customers about it in comparison, I would talk more about the material and the fruit, and the impact that the variation of amount of the fruit left on the parchment has.

#5 Bean Size(s)

Man, I love this coffee. I want to bathe in it. (Too much?) Anyway:

From :

"The variation in bean size which is common in DP Ethiopian coffees does dictate that it is important to allow the coffee to move into a full and vigorous pop before reducing the gas rather than making an adjustment right when you hear the first signs of popping."

Might this apply to a washed Ethiopian that's so endearingly varied as Sota? I don't sort it overmuch, because I agree that's where all the character is; however, I'm always looking to get more thorough development. It hadn't occurred to me that coffees that like to be turned down after they get going into first could be correlated to the wider array of bean sizes -- (as opposed to, say, a uniform Guatemalan?). Would you say this is a correlation I can use as a jumping-off place in the future or am I missing the mark?


#6 This coffee does have amazing

This coffee does have amazing exfoliating properties!

I could agree with that correlation. I think the most telling factor would be if you are experiencing a really long drawn out 1st pop, without a distinctive finish. If you're experiencing this, then I would encourage to ramp into 1st with a little more gusto and get the mass popping a little more vigorously and allowing it to really roll before we reduce the energy like in how we talked about roasting dry processed coffees.

thank you so Jessica much for the comment!

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