Ethiopia has more than 1.1 million coffee farmers (smallholders) representing 95% of the production. The varieties are referred to collectively as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a myriad of local native Typica hybrids and new improved varietals based on the old strains. The two main growing areas are in the west and south. Most coffees are organic by default.
This coffee is a result of a sustainable Technoserve project in the west based on transparency and increased quality production. Technoserve is a NGO supporting the farmers in setting up washing stations and new cooperative structures. This project has revealed a new great range of coffee flavors not found elsewhere. Technoserve’s coffee initiative is a project measuring their success in the value and quality of the coffees produced and the farmers increase in their coffee income. All cooperative members qualify for second payment. This has so far contributed to a significant increase in payment for the local coffee farmers.
The west represents about 46% of Ethiopia’s total production. It includes regions like Jimma, Kaffa, Limu, Illubabor, Wellega, Bench Maji and others. In the west you find three major types of farming: at higher altitudes you find either forest coffees, which are grown “wild,” or semi-forest coffees grown in smallholder blocks. Both types come from ancient trees, rarely pruned, and organic fertilizer is common in smallholder blocks. At lower altitudes you find more recently and densely planted varieties and larger farms.
For more information on Ethiopia and Technoserve, see our earlier post here
Cooperative: Wakito Madalu
Zone, Woreda/Local municipality: Jimma, Tije
Altitude: Coffee grown from 1950 – 2100 meters
Producers: About 470 smallholder members deliver cherry to the wet mill. Membership is optional. Non members don’t qualify for second payment.
Varietals: Ethiopian Heirloom, “Native Jimma Type”. Semi-forest and wild forest farming.
Grade: Screen 15 and up.
Production: Pulped and mechanically demucilaged, soaked in water and sundried.
Process: Cherries are hand sorted for unripes and overripes by the farmers before they go in to production. A Penagos Eco Pulper removes the skin, pulp and mucilage. It is then soaked in clean water in fiber glass tanks for about 10 hours.
Drying: Skin dried and sorted for 4-6 hours after soaking. Sun dried about 10 days on African drying beds on hessian cloths. Coffees are covered in plastic or shade nets during midday and at night.
Soil: Recent volcanic deposits.
Notes: Wakito Madalu was established in 2011. Total production in 2011 was about 600 bags. They use trace ability sheets to track coffees from days of production at drying tables to the warehouse
Cupping notes: Complex citrus, some rosehip and floral notes in aroma. Red fruit flavors, sweet rhubarb and rosehip. Medium intensity but great structure and balance. Soft and elegant, transparent and juicy in finish.