Origin Update Ethiopia: Visiting our Farm Partners

Origin Update Ethiopia: Visiting our Farm Partners

Reconnecting after an unplanned break

In November 2022, our head roaster Garreth headed to Jimma, the coffee growing region that is home to one of our closest Ethiopian farm partners: Mustafa Mohamed Ali, a great relationship that is testimonial to what can be achieved when three experts work closely together, with trust and respect.

The farm that runs two washing stations, went solo in 2018 when acquiring an export license. Looking for the right roast partner, Mustafa Mohamed connected from French coffee importer. The rest is history. Have a look at our blog post that explores all angles of our work with Mohamed Ali.

Garreth drying coffee beans on drying beds

Expert Processing

As the mist began to clear and the drying beans were exposed to the warming sun, Garreth was able to see the range of coffees that Mustafa processes in honey and natural styles. Only the top quality beans make it to the drying table.

To achieve that, all cherries undergo the water test in a small basin after picking: the ones that float are not fully ripe (with less flavours sweetness). The floaters are being sold locally. They are not bad coffees; just not good enough to make it to our roastery.

Quality Upgrades

Working continuously on farm upgrades is part of our journey with Mustafa. And year on year, we pay more for his coffees. To support him, but more importantly: Because the quality goes up every season.

The sustainability project that we are working on at Mohamed Ali is threefold. We are working on equipment upgrades, working conditions and the environment. All three aspects are equally important to the coffee grower. We have agreed on a monetary contribution for this program, by way of paying extra over and above our coffee pricing.

Mustafa also works on a reforestation plan around his farm. Indigenous shade trees around the coffee plants contribute to the perfect ripening of the cherries. Farm workers have received further training to help maintain and encourage the newly planted trees.

Recently, Mustafa has made improvements at his station that include a kitchen. Paying a fair wage and providing food for workers during the harvest is the best way to attract and retain experienced coffee pickers.

Head Coffee Roaster Garreth with Ethiopian Coffee Farmers
Mohammed Ali, Ethiopian Coffee Farmer

Knowing when the Cherries are ready to harvest

A significant upgrade we are looking forward to is an improved harvesting system using Brix measurement. The tool shows the level of natural sugars in the juice of the coffee cherries. Mustafa needs to know exactly which sugar levels he needs for his naturals or his honeys. To get the perfect result in the desired taste profiles.

The Taste of Jimma

As always, we joined Mustafa for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Which is so very different from what we do with his coffees! Green beans are freshly roasted on a metal plate directly over a fire for around 30 minutes. They are then ground in a mortar and pestle, brewed, and enjoyed.

An Ethiopian woman preparing coffee beans for brewing
Coffee plant
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