Coffee is a strange and curious plant. Though there are myths about how humans discovered coffee the truth remains a mystery. Even more mysterious is how a seed, found inside the fruit of a paritcular tree can replicate the flavors of literally hundreds of foods known to humankind. In a single coffee you can potentially taste notes of fruits, nuts, chocolates, as well as a wide variety of flavors.
In Ethiopia, coffee varietals naturally grow in many different areas, and due to thousands of years of genetic mutation, each varietal is akin to wildflowers. These wild varietals are unique to each area, and more frequently, each village. It could be said that each village has it’s own wild varietal, and thus its own flavors.
Most African coffee come from cooperatives where several hundred producers bring their beans together. At select locations the cherries are seperated by quality and variety and further processed. Because of this, traceability can hindered, and in fact, may stop at the cooperative level. Most of the individual producers are not know by those sourcing the coffee. This is not inherently a bad thing. Cooperatives often provide healthcare and educational options for those involved.
In Ethiopia, traceability has further been hindered by the introduction of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. Introduced in 2008, the ECX was supposed to basically act as a referee between international markets and individual small producers of commodities such as coffee. The goal was to hinder the volitile markets from harming small producers as well as incentivizing producers to plant lucerative crops. To a certain extent the ECX has helped the Ethiopian coffee producers, but it has not allowed individual exporters to connect directly with buyers, which left buyers knowing very little about who had produced the coffee. In 2017, the Ethiopia government decided to loosen some of the original restrictions, allowing anyone with the correct certifications to trade directly without the ECX.
Due to this change, Ethiopian coffees are certainly becoming more traceable. While most producers still work with cooperatives, there are some farmers who have decided to work alone.
Ashebir Gosaei is one of these individual farmers who has sold his coffee directly to our importer. Ashebir oversees over 550 acres of farmland among coffee he also grows maize. He originally purchased the farm in 2008, and has since grown his operations and continues to grow each year.
When asked about coffee producing, Ashebir had this to say: “Coffee is my life,” Ashebir Gosayei says. “I invested all that I have in coffee farms, I am passionate in producing coffee.”
We are proud to dispaly Ashebir‘s work and offer this single-producer Ethiopian coffee to our friends. The coffee is very interesting and complex in every way. Because it is a naturally processed coffee the beans are softer. A quick roast profile will kill a lot of the potential flavor available, so we slowly roast the beans to allow sugars to carmelize and developent to take place.