Widely believed to be the origin of the Coffea arabica plant, Ethiopia remains a powerhouse in the coffee world to this day.
Ethiopia is the world’s seventh largest coffee producer, and the top producer on the African continent. Residents of the country account for half of its consumption, and the other half is exported to major markets like the EU, North America, and East Asia. Production methods remain mostly unchanged, with most cultivation and drying done by hand.
The government’s role in Ethiopia’s coffee production is unique, with an established Coffee and Tea Authority that acts as a part of the federal government. It sets regulations that fix prices washing stations must pay to buy beans from farmers, requires extended licensing in the domestic market, and maintains the previous regime’s decision to turn all washing stations into farmers cooperatives. It also regulates trademarks on regional names, including Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Limu.
Many cooperative and fair trade organizations exist today. One such organization is the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU,) an agricultural cooperative federation. It was extablished in 1999 with 34 cooperatives and $90,000 in capital. Today, it represents over 100,000 cooperatives and its exports have exceeded 7,000 metric tons, with sales approaching $40 million USD per year. It represents growers, processors, and exporters in the Oromia Region, located in southern and western Ethiopia. The union chooses to cut out middlemen and instead sorts, roasts, and exports its own coffee directly. They exclusively grow arabica coffee, and produce both organic and conventionally grown beans. 70 percent of the union’s gross profits are returned to its cooperatives. Its goals are as follows: improve farmer’s income by exporting their coffee; maintan the quality of coffee production; improve and maintain the sustainability of the coffee industry; improve the quality and productibity of Ethiopian coffee; regulate and stabilize local markets; provide farmers and clients with reliable service. This union has had a unique and positive impact on Ethiopia’s coffee production.
The region of Sidamo was once a province, but has now been divided into smaller regions. Our Sidamo Ethiopia is grown south of the capital, Addis Ababa, in a region known for its ideal climate, soil and growing altitude, which produces an incredibly high-quality coffee with unique fruit, citrus, and floral flavors and well-balanced acidity. It is referred to as Grade 4 because of the amount of visual imperfections in the unwashed bean. Coffee in Ethiopia is graded 1-9, with Grade 1 showing 1-3 visual imperfections, which is incredibly rare, and 4 showing a small amount of visual imperfections. Many unwashed coffees tend to hover around Grades 3-5.
Grima Edema, owner of Guji Coffee Export, began marketing this coffee over 20 years ago in Kercha, a well-known coffee growing area. Grima was born into a coffee trading family, which allowed him to gain experience early in his coffee career. Guji Coffee Export has a central location where they store their coffee, operate their dry mill, two washing stations and garage for their trucks. The export company practices strict quality control, and only purchases ripe cherries. Guji Coffee Export is vertically integrated, which enables them to control the processing from the mill level all the way to the point when the coffee is delivered to Djibouti for export.