The district of Gedeb takes up the south-eastern corner of Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone—a narrow section of plateau dense with savvy farmers whose coffee is known as “Yirgacheffe”, after the zone’s most famous district. Gedeb, however, is a terroir, history, and community all its own that merits unique designation in our eyes. Coffees from this community, much closer to Guji than the rest of Yirgacheffe, 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 municipality 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. These processors (and we would agree) would argue their coffee profiles are not exactly Yirgacheffe, but something of their own. The communities surrounding Gedeb reach some of the highest growing elevations for coffee in the world and are a truly enchanting part of the long drive into Guji. Banko Gotiti is one of the furthest communities East of Gedeb and includes coops that are union-affiliated, as well independent washing stations of various types, most of which are named after the town itself, which can create some confusion as the coffees make their way around the world.
This lot comes by way of the independent Banko Gotiti washing station owned and operated by Birhanemeskel Abera. Mr. Abera manages 650 individual farmers who sell cherry to the station. Washed coffees are hand sorted upon delivery, fermented underwater for up to two full days (nights at this elevation tend to be quite chilly), and then dried carefully on raised beds for 12-15 days, during which the fragile parchment coffee is covered during the noontime hours to protect it from the intense heat and solar radiation of the midday light.
Private processors like Banko Gotiti 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 Banko Gotiti, 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.