Idido is one of Ethiopia’s best-known cooperatives. It’s centrally located among Yirgacheffe producers, being just a few kilometers outside the town of Yirga Chefe itself—a surprisingly small community given its mythical stature as one of the world’s most gifted coffee landscapes. Furthermore, Idido was one of the coops promoted through various “Misty Valley” campaigns that placed some of Ethiopia’s first specialty naturals into the spotlight.
But without question Idido’s notoriety is thanks to its consistently incredible expression of the central Gedeo Zone terroir. Idido is north of the town of Yirga Chefe, in the heart 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”. The Gedeo region is named after the Gedeo people who are indigenous to this area. As a coffee 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 among coffee roasters, many of whom would count Yirgacheffe as one of the terroirs that led them into their profession. To many of us, Idido epitomizes Yirgacheffe’s brisk and floral profile.
Like many of its peers Idido was originally formed in the 1970s and joined the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) in the early 2000s, achieving Organic and Fair Trade certifications at the same time. Idido’s 1044 members collectively farm 1862 hectares of land, about half of which is coffee, for most the only cash crop grown. Washed coffees are fermented underwater with regular water replenishments, and then sundried on raised beds. During drying the parchment coffee is often covered during the midday sun, which at this altitude is often searingly hot during harvest and can crack the brittle parchment if exposed for even an hour too long.
The Yirgacheffe Union itself has more than 50,000 individual farmer members and 24 different cooperatives across the Gedeo Zone. (Gedeo, while tiny compared to neighboring Sidama and Guji zones, is one of Ethiopia’s most densely populated areas after its capital city, Addis Ababa.) The members of each primary cooperative elect their own executive committee, which makes decisions about investments like new equipment and tree maintenance, 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.