Testi Ayla, located on the South-Eastern edge of the Sidama Zone along the Harenna Forest, takes quite seriously the potential of a washing station to be a community vanguard. The Bensa district is far from the main North-South thoroughfare and the nearest cities of Yirga Alem and Dilla, where processed coffees consolidate for transit.
Farmers in this area average only 1.5 hectares each-- about 4 acres--and the catchment area for fresh cherry can be treacherous when the weather is bad. But soil is excellent, elevations surpass 2000 meters, and farming and processing expertise abound. So Testi Ayla is constantly investing—in its community along with its equipment, and business growth.
Coffee in Bensa is harvested in November and December, and cherries are purchased and hand sorted at collection stations in the field. Cherries are then sorted and delivered to the station for processing each evening, where the fruit destined for natural processing is floated for density, rinsed, and then sent directly to raised beds to drip-dry before the morning sun. Naturals here take 15-21 days to fully dry weather-depending.
Testi Ayla has won awards at the Taste of Harvest competition—one of the African Fine Coffee Association’s annual pan-Africa quality competition--and is currently building a new dry mill to prepare coffees for export. The Testi Project, a development initiative paid for by its coffee sales, has built primary schools in Bensa, as well as stockpiles of educational supplies for students, and also invests in scholarships that connect qualifying students with international coffee roasters for further business experience.