harar in the pan

by borom ndar

Today I roasted two kilos of Harar Oda-Bultum beans. This coffee comes from the Eastern part of Harar in Eastern Ethiopia. This is where the famous Harari coffee farmers produce their crop and dry their coffee in the sun. The drying process guarantees that you have a very particular earthy Harar flavour, sought by many roasters and coffee lovers, and particularly so by the Saudis who buy most of these coffees of the highest grade. Roasting Harar evenly has its own challenges, and especially with our traditional roaster operated by swinging the drum by hand!


A mix of two batches of Harar.

The fact that roasting involves very high temperatures, and that to detect the degree of roast I need to open that drum while roasting, are other challenging parts of the job. And since we are in the tropics, even the time of the day matters: I am roasting outside so that I can let the smoke out freely – and there is always a lot of smoke where coffee is being roasted – and this means I need to do it in the early morning when it is not too hot and when I can still see the flame from the gaz burner. Later in the day the daylight is so bright that I cannot adjust the flame well. Likewise, in the evening  when it’s getting dark, I can see the flame very clearly but then it is too hard to see the beans in the drum. In the end, to get the degree of roast I am looking for is a mix of listening to the beans rattle and crack, checking, swinging again, checking again and calculating the last one minute or thirty seconds of roasting before letting the beans quickly out of the drum. These calculations include also the after roast, because we do not have a cooler at hand.


Fresh out of the pan! Typically with Harar and other sun-dried coffees, there is plenty of chuff (the outer layer or skin of the bean) coming off in the roasting process.