2000 – 2100 masl
Heirloom cultivar 74112 & 74148
Yirgacheffe woreda, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Ethiopia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
October - January
Hirut Shallo grows coffee on 5.2 hectares of land in Yirga Chefe (also spelled Yirgacheffe), one of 8 woredas, or districts, that together comprise the dense and competitive highland zone of Gedeo. The entire Gedeo zone is often referred to as “Yirgacheffe” after this very district, by far its most famous for a long history of recognizable terroir.
5.2 hectares is considered very large for this area, where half a hectare is the norm. 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 Hirut’s allow for greater personal control. This lot is Hirut’s entire specialty crop, harvested with the assistance of about 7 workers, sorted for consistency, and sundried on her property on raised beds for about 3 weeks.
There are precious few single-farm coffees available from this part of Ethiopia these days. Not long ago there were practically none at all. For the past 10 years, Royal, with support from select cooperatives, founded and led the Single Farmer Lots Program, in order to break off single farmer microlots from the larger cooperative blends sold anonymously through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), taking custody of these precious coffees through a direct sale. The program was a unique micro-channel of almost unprecedented specificity in coffee supply from Ethiopia during those first years. Farmers with the drive and means to sell direct were supported by Royal, and, in turn, our most enthusiastic buyers of Ethiopia coffee had access to a portfolio of single-farm lots, un-diluted by the typical cooperative- and exporter-level consolidations. The Single Farmer Lots Program represented a very sweet end to a chaotic chapter in Ethiopia’s coffee history, and we think it was a foundational model for what is happening now: the emergence of a new generation of micro-exporters engaged in start-up relationship farming in Ethiopia’s world-famous southern zones, putting more diversity and traceability into the global market than ever before.
Hirut Shallo started processing and marketing her own coffee in 2019. She runs the farm together with her husband and 4 children, all of whom contribute to the farm’s entrepreneurialism. Hirut’s coffee is managed and exported by Konga Trading PLC, a recently-formed company owned by, who else, the former General Manager of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU), Takele Mammo. Takele was an instrumental partner of Royal’s during his time at YCFCU, helping us identify and successfully export single farmer lots for the first time in the Union’s long history.