Position Future Shipment
Selamwit Sebseba Mamecha
1980 – 2000 masl
Local heirloom cultivars
Uraga district, Guji Zone, Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
November - January
Guji zone is for the most part a remote and heavily forested swath of land stretching southeast through the lower corner of Ethiopia’s massive Oromia region. Guji is heavy with primary forest thanks to the Guji tribe, a part of Ethiopia’s vast and diverse Oromo nation, who have for generations organized to reduce mining and logging outfits in a struggle to conserve the land’s sacred canopy and soils. The biodiversity, climate, and ongoing preservation efforts have kept large parts of Guji feeling like prehistoric forest. Many parts of Guji can be a very long drive (or a few days’ walk) from the nearest trading centers of Gedeb or Dilla, in Gedeo Zone to the west. This distance has historically left many coffee farmers debilitated by lack of access to market, and cherry prices lower than neighboring Gedeo or Sidama zones. The gorgeous terroir of this area, blessed by some of the country’s healthiest biodiversity, has historically risked being ruined in transit, or purchased for cheap and blended into lower grades due to the difficult geography. In the past 10 years Guji has become almost as well-known as Yirgacheffe for incredible coffees, and better than anywhere in Ethiopia for organic large estates.
Selamwit Sebseba Mamecha’s coffee was a national jury selection at this year’s Cup of Excellence (COE) competition. Selamwit is a 35-year-old farmer with 4 children, who only began farming coffee 4 years ago. She (yes, Selamwit is one of Ethiopia’s extremely rare woman farm owners) knew the Uraga district had huge potential for quality and decided to invest herself at the age of 31. She manages a 1.5-hectare property which is now entirely planted with coffee. This natural process microlot was handpicked and dried on raised beds on Selamwit’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.