Tijani Oli Faxuma
Regional cultivar 74110
Gera district, Jimma zone, Oromia region, Ethiopia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
November - January
Jimma zone sits southwest of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Like much of coffee-growing Ethiopia, Jimma is a broad, sloping plateau of indescribable fertility and drastically high elevations. The best coffees of Jimma, especially in the Gera and Gomma districts, are known for being snappy with sweet and delicate fruit flavors. The area’s “white” honey, foraged by bees from coffee and forest blossoms, is another famous Jimma icon, and an utter sensory delight. Coffees from this zone, along with those from neighboring Illubabor, are commonly referred to as “Limu”, which is not a geographical indicator itself but more of a terroir distinction encapsulating common cup profiles from this part of the country.
Tijani Oli Faxuma’s coffee was a national jury selection at this year’s Cup of Excellence (COE) competition. Tijani is a 52-year-old farmer with 5 children, who only began farming coffee 12 years ago. Tijani’s farm is large for Ethiopia standards, at 4 hectares, 100% of which is planted with coffee. This natural process microlot was handpicked and dried on raised beds on Tijani’s own property, carefully supervised and sorted specifically for the COE competition.
The world’s first Cup of Excellence competition took place in Brazil in 1999 and quickly became known as the world’s best discovery mechanism for quality. Each competition is origin-specific and involves multiple national selection rounds, a final competition with an international judging panel, and an online auction for the top 30 high-scoring submissions. All submissions are cupped blind throughout the entire competition, leaving judges only the cup quality to assess, and each submission is cupped up to five times. Winning producers are often fabulously rewarded with record-setting prices for their coffee, not to mention lifelong status for such an achievement. The competition has revealed countless innovative processing styles, rare cultivars, and obscure producing areas to the rest of the world for the first time.
Ethiopia is of course well-known for having an incredibly high status quo for quality. Ironically, due to lack of sponsorship and an established single-farmer marketplace, the COE has only been held here twice. Royal has been a longtime supporter of maximum traceability in Ethiopia via whatever tools are available. This year we are buying and importing the entire national selection round ourselves—that is, all 22 top-scoring submissions that did not go to international auction. The enthusiasm of Ethiopia’s gifted smallholders means there are a lot of excellent coffees to be appreciated beyond the competition’s top 30 that go to auction. In the COE format small growers typically submit fully processed and dried but un-milled lots of coffee, which are then centrally milled and stored during the auction’s multi-week procession. All national jury selects were purchased by Royal with a flat farmgate price of $4.50 per pound of green coffee directly to the farmers.