Daniel Miju is a septuagenarian coffee farmer and native of the Worka kebele of Gedeb. Miju’s experience farming precedes his involvement as a founding member of the Worka cooperative in 2006 by nearly three decades, having inherited his 15 hectare farm in 1978 (the same year Royal was founded). He has surrounded himself with a large and supportive family, many of whom still live locally and assist with the annual harvest.
His farm was selected as a model example in 2014 for the cooperative, and although his coffee is sold through the centralized ECX auction system, this lot is fully traceable through the partnership Royal has established with the YCFCU (the umbrella Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union covering coops in the Gedeo Zone) to highlight single farmer lots. While not unheard of, it’s exceedingly uncommon to find a single-farmer lot from Ethiopia, so Miju’s coffee presents a unique opportunity to taste a very specific regional terroir.
The Worka cooperative is located in the district of Gedeb, which lies to the south of Yirgacheffe town, each of which fall under the umbrella of the Gedeo zone, one of the smaller administrative divisions in the vast Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Ethnic Region of Ethiopia. Gedeo receives its name from the ethnic majority in the region, and shares a border to the north with the much larger Sidama zone, and is surrounded on the East, South, and West by the Oromia Region, currently plunged into political turmoil.
Drying coffee in the cherry, as Daniel Miju has done with his coffee here, is the original tradition in Ethiopia. Coffee is not just a cash crop; it’s a way of life. Ethiopian coffee culture runs deep even in the rural farmlands, and it’s entirely common to see a day’s harvest from a small private coffee garden drying in the cherry on a porch or patio. Ethiopia is among the only producing countries where coffee farmers roast and brew their own harvest.