ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 NATURAL ORGANIC WORKA – 33879 – GrainPro Bags – April 2024 Shipment – RCWHSE

Position Future Shipment

Bags 202

Warehouses Oakland

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About this coffee

Grower

Smallholder farmers organized around the Worka Coffee Farmers Basic Cooperative

Altitude

1800 – 2200 masl

Variety

Indigenous landraces and regional heirloom cultivars

Soil

Vertisol

Region

Worka community, Gedeb woreda, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, Ethiopia

Process

Full natural

Harvest

November - January

Certification

Organic

Coffee Background

Worka is a large municipality in the Gedeb district, the southernmost district of Ethiopia’s famous Gedeo zone. Nearly all of Gedeb is known for its gifted processing climate and experienced growers. Washed and natural coffees alike from this area tend to be dense and fruit-forward, ranging from sparkling clean acidic fruits to jammy or herbal concentrated sweetness. Worka is one of the oldest and largest individual cooperatives that make up the storied Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU).  

Gedeb and Its Coffee 

Gedeo zone is a narrow section of Ethiopia’s southern highland plateau dense with savvy farmers, a famous terroir, and high competition for cherry. Gedeo as a whole is frequently referred to as “Yirgacheffe”, after the zone’s most famous central district. Gedeb, however, is a terroir, history, and community all its own that merits unique designation in our eyes. Coffees from this district, much closer to Guji zone than the rest of Gedeo, are often the most explosive cup profiles we see from anywhere in Ethiopia. Naturals tend to have perfume-like volatiles, and fully washed lots are often sparklingly clean and fruit candy-like in structure. 

The Gedeb district is a remote but impressively industrious area for coffee production. Half of its territory is planted with coffee. The city of Gedeb itself is a is a bustling outpost that links commerce between the Guji and Gedeo Zones, with an expansive network of processing stations who buy cherry from across zone borders. The communities surrounding Gedeb reach some of the highest growing elevations for coffee in the world and are a truly enchanting part of the landscape.  

Worka Cooperative and Processing 

Worka was established in 2006, only a few years after YCFCU itself was founded. The cooperative began with 210 member farmers; today there are over 1,400 farmers spanning 2,500 hectares of coffee production—just under 2 hectares apiece on average, although occasionally farms can be 10 hectares or more. These are quintessential Gedeo family farms: small and forested, whose production is often divided between spacious, lofty coffee trees, other fruits or legumes, 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. 

Naturals at the coop are received as fresh picked cherry from member farmers throughout the day. Cherry is hand-sorted on delivery to remove less dense pickings, and then the ripest, most dense and consistent portions are moved immediately to raised beds to dry in the sun, a process that takes typically 21 days. During this time, cherry is continuously rotated to keep airflow consistent and prevent moisture buildup between the fruit. Drying beds are covered at night to prevent humidity from settling on the coffee, as well as during the mid-day hours to prevent sunburn and uneven dehydration. When drying is fully complete, coffee is milled to remove the dried fruit husks and conditioned in local warehouses, until it is trucked north to Addis Ababa for final milling and preparation for export. 

In the past, the Worka cooperative encapsulated a large share of this area’s farmers. In recent years, newer cooperatives have been established in more specific communities here, but Worka remains the largest and most influential of the local union cooperatives. 

The Yirgacheffe Union 

Worka 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 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.