Banko Gotiti is a small municipality located on the eastern edge of the Gedeb district, part of the highly-coveted Gedeo Zone, a narrow section of plateau dense with savvy farmers whose coffee is known as “Yirgacheffe”, after the zone’s most famous district. The Gedeb district is more remote than the rest of Gedeo, and somewhat more transient: its namesake city of Gedeb is a bustling trade outpost that links far-reaching commerce between Gedeo and Guji zones. And, it must be mentioned, Gedeb also produces some of the most beautifully crisp and floral fully washed coffees one can find anywhere in Ethiopia. The coffee producing communities throughout Gedeb are larger here than in central Gedeo and can reach some of the highest growing elevations for coffee in the world.
The Worka Sakaro processing station, just north of Banko Gotiti where this coffee was processed, was started by Mijane Woresa in 2011. 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 Halo Hartume, in the nothern corner of Gedeb), as well as the exporting itself. The coffee, naturally, has become his namesake.
Worka Sakaro’s contributing farmers number 410, 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 cherry 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 Worka Sakaro staff 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.
As a terroir, the Gedeo Zone has for decades been considered a benchmark for beauty and complexity in arabica coffee, and in the past decade the Gedeb district has achieved a kind of sub-label all its own, thanks to an increasing diversity of single farmers and independent processors like the Mijane family bringing more and more refinement to an already deeply gifted terroir and coffee farming culture. Worka Sakaro coffees in particular are dense and tart with tropical fruit and tea-like complexity when fully washed, and seductively sweet and perfumed when sundried. This particular coffee is no exception. It is layered, packed with fruit juice acidity, and reminds us of guava paste and Darjeeling tea.