Price $4.71 per pound
Bag Weight 131 lbs
1,907 farmers organized around the Biloya Cooperative
1600 – 2100 masl
Local landraces and indigenous heirloom cultivars
Wenago district, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
November - January
Fair Trade | Organic
Biloya is located in the Kochere district, near the center of the coveted Gedeo Zone—the narrow section of highland plateau dense with savvy farmers and fiercely competitive processors whose coffee is known the world over as “Yirgacheffe”, after the zone’s most famous district. Kochere is one of Gedeo’s largest districts. The Gedeo Zone is named for the Gedeo people who are indigenous to this area. As a coffee terroir, Gedeo, or “Yirgacheffe”, has for decades been considered a benchmark for beauty and complexity in arabica coffee. It’s known for being beguilingly ornate and jasmine-like when fully washed, and seductively punchy and sweet when sundried, and hardly requires an introduction. Many roasters would count Gedeo, or “Yirgacheffe”, as one of the terroirs that lured them into a lifetime of coffee admiration.
Biloya is one of the primary cooperatives that together make up the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU). The Union, first established In 2002, has more than 45,000 individual farmer members and 28 different cooperatives across the Gedeo Zone, almost all of which are Fair Trade certified. (Gedeo, while tiny compared to neighboring Sidama and Guji zones, is one of Ethiopia’s most densely populated areas after Addis Ababa.) The members of each primary cooperative elect their own executive committee which makes decisions about investments like new equipment and tree maintenance, but also creates plans for member social services, school support, public health, infrastructure, and how to structure payments to the coop members. YCFCU also appoints professional managers for each primary cooperative to oversee harvest and processing procedures, who are accountable to the members and the executive committee.
Biloya’s members average 2.31 hectares apiece. These are quintessential Gedeo family farms: small and forested, whose production is often divided between spacious, lofty coffee trees and enset, a fruitless cousin of the banana plant whose pulp is packed into cakes, fermented underground, and then toasted as a staple starch. This common pair of crops satisfies unique and separate needs: coffee for economic livelihood; and enset for nutrition.
Natural processing for Biloya members occurs at the single processing station for the cooperative. Cherry is often delivered directly by farmer members or, in the case of members living further away, to select collection sites run by the cooperative. After cherry is delivered it is sorted for uniform ripeness and moved to raised screen beds to dry. Throughout the drying period, often 2-3 weeks, the cherry is often covered during the midday hours, which at this altitude is often searingly hot and can lead to uneven drying or cracking of the fruit’s softened skin if exposed for too long. Fully dried coffee is rested for one month on cooperative property, and then transported to the Union’s storage facility and dry mill for de-hulling and transit to Addis Ababa.