Flavor Profile Dried fig, baking spice, cream, clean
1790 – 1950 masl
Local landraces and indigenous heirloom cultivars
Shakiso district, Guji Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
November - January
Shiferaw Bakata’s estate is in Shakiso, in central Guji. At 39 hectares it is considered enormous by the standards of average Ethiopian smallholders, who typically farm 1-2 hectares apiece. The estate is organized by elevation and retains 100-130 employees during the harvest months. Shiferaw was born and raised in a coffee-growing family and has spent most of his life in Ethiopia’s domestic coffee trade. The vast majority of coffee processing in Ethiopia is centralized due to complete lack of infrastructure or efficiencies at the farm level, but larger plots like Shiferaw’s allow for greater personal control. Handpicked cherry is all floated for density and then placed directly onto drying beds, where it will be consistently turned and rotated for the few weeks that drying requires. The beds are covered at night, to protect the cherry from settling humidity, as well as for a few hours each afternoon, to prevent scorching from the searingly-hot midday sun.
Guji, despite the gorgeous arabica genetics and gifted climate of the zone, has been historically disadvantaged for being so remote. Coffees from here were (are still) often commodified and blended into lower grades as a result of the difficult geography. One way for farmers to survive these disadvantages is by having larger, more diversified parcels, sometimes 20 acres or more like Shiferaws, including livestock and large quantities of enset, a relative of the banana whose inner pulp is fermented and sold locally as a staple starch. Notably as well, cooperative unions, Ethiopia’s hallmark exporter organizations for small farmers, have scarce presence in Guji. So estates like Shiferaw’s are great examples of coffee prosperity at a rarer, larger scale for this particular zone.
Shiferaw’s coffee is milled and exported by Guji Exports PLC, an independent exporter established in 2006. Guji Exports operates its own 150-hectare estate, as well as 2 washing stations in Kercha and Hagere Mariam (West Guji zone), and processes cherry from 1500 additional outgrowers (smallholders) in the area.