Halo Hartume is a community near the border between Gedeb and Kochere, two very coffee-famous districts in Ethiopia’s coveted Gedeo Zone. Gedeo, named after the Gedeo people indigenous to the area, is a 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 and central town.
As a terroir, Yirgacheffe has for decades been considered a benchmark for beauty and complexity in arabica coffee, known for being beguilingly ornate and jasmine-like when fully washed, and seductively punchy and sweet when sundried--and hardly requires an introduction. This particular coffee from a family-run independent washing station in Halo Hartume, is no exception. It’s big and sweet, with layers of grapefruit and lavender-like florality.
The Halo Hartume station was started by Mijane Woresa in 2013. For its first few years the station sold coffee the way most producers in the area did: through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), where government cuppers would grade and position the coffee for sale to exporters. In 2017 Mr. Woresa secured an export license for himself, and, after 30 years of work in coffee, brought his son Daniel aboard, who then started a relationship with Royal. Today, Daniel Mijane runs the majority of day-to-day operations at the family’s two private stations (the other is in Worka Sakaro, in the southeastern corner of Gedeb), as well as the exporting itself, and the coffee has become his namesake.
Halo Hartume’s contributing farmers number almost 400, and farm sizes range from 1 to 10 hectares. The Mijane family’s involvement with farmers begins long before harvest in the form of harvest trainings and the establishment of seasonal collection sites—local delivery points that reduce overland travel for farmers and provide a quality inspection point for the washing station. During harvest season, bulk deliveries come in from the collection sites around 6pm, where Halo Hartume conducts a final inspection for uniform ripeness, foreign matter, and overall quality, before admitting cherry to the evening’s processing.
After depulping, coffee typically ferments for 48 hours, is rinsed, and then skin-dried in the shade until no longer wet to the touch. Once ready to transport, skin-dry parchment is moved to full-time drying beds in the sun where it will be continuously rotated and aerated for one week, and typically covered during the hottest hours of the day, 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., when the intensity of the sun can potentially crack the coffee’s brittle parchment.
Private processors like Halo Hartume are a thing to behold. It’s a tough business being a private processor in Gedeo, as the sheer density of competition among washing stations tends to push cherry prices as high as double throughout a single harvest, and privates often don’t have the backing of a larger union to secure financing, regulate cherry prices, or bring export costs down with centralized milling and marketing. Successful private washing stations like the Mijane family’s, then, need to be not only standout quality processors to stay afloat; they must also be excellent business developers with connections and community standing, in order to continue winning the business of farmers and buyers alike, and stay afloat for the long term.