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Origin Information

Grower
200 farmers organized around the Wate Gogogu washing station
Variety
Regional cultivar 74110
Region
200 farmers organized around the Wate Gogogu washing station
Harvest
November - December
Altitude
1800 masl
Soil
Red loamy
Process
Fully washed and sundried on raised beds
Certifications

Background Details

There are few entrances to Guji Zone--a distant and heavily forested swath of land stretching southeast through the lower corner of the massive Oromia region--and none of these routes are short, or for the queasy, in any way. Guji is heavy with primary forest thanks to the Guji tribe, a part of Ethiopia’s vast and diverse Oromo nation, who have for generations organized to reduce mining and logging outfits in a struggle to conserve the land’s sacred canopy and soils. The biodiversity, climate, and ongoing preservation efforts have kept large parts of Guji feeling like prehistoric backwoods. The Uraga district of Guji in particular can be a very long drive (or many days’ walk) from the nearest trading centers of Gedeb or Dilla to the west. This distance has historically left many coffee farmers debilitated by lack of access to market, and cherry prices often less than half of neighboring Gedeo or Sidama zones. The gorgeous terroir of this area, blessed by some of the country’s healthiest biodiversity, risks being ruined in transit, or purchased for cheap and blended into lower grades due to the difficult geography. Farmers have historically survived the access disadvantages by having larger, more diversified parcels, sometimes 20 acres or more, with equal emphasis on livestock or other crops for local markets as on coffee. But the vast majority have always been small—2-4 acres only. Were it not for businesses like the Wate Gogogu washing station, run by Awel Taha, who have been investing in the area for over 25 years, growers here would have as their only option the sporadic, rogue coffee collector from Gedeo or farther, bringing rock bottom prices and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Awel is 55 years old and a longstanding entrepreneur in processing whose experience has crossed a number of distinct generations in Ethiopia coffee. His first processing site, for natural coffees only, began in 1992. Four years later he constructed his first washing station. This was prior to any established specialty market when price and quality had no correlation, and entire regions were often consolidated for sale. Over the years he witnessed the industry grow increasingly encouraging of exporters, whose work brought needed US Dollars into the country, but at the expense of farmers, who were continually treated as commodities for the state. Once the quality market began to accelerate, Awel was finally in a position to leverage his relationships and the Guji terroir for community gain. He now operates five processing stations and considers earning his export license, this year, one of his biggest achievements, because it allows him to speak directly to the buyers of his coffee. Wate Gogolu washing station works with 200 farmers in the greater area, whose farms vary between 1-10 hectares each. Cherry arriving to the station is inspected for imperfections and foreign matter, pulped, floated in order to separate by density, and then fermented 24-36 hours depending on the relative climate. After fermentation the coffee is washed thoroughly with fresh water and then soaked for 5-6 hours. After soaking the coffee is transported to raised beds for drying where it is immediately hand-sorted for defects, which are more obvious to the eye when the parchment is still wet. The coffee dries for 7-10 days during which it is continually rotated and inspected for consistency.