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.
Yirgacheffe, also referred to as Yirgachefe or Irgachefe, is a town in central southern Ethiopia in Yirgachefe District. It lies in the larger region of Sidamo, and is considered the birthplace of coffee. Its beans are prized for their delicate, floral, and tea-like characteristics.
The Misty Valley is a prime example of the fruitiness, complexity, and character of these Natural Yirgacheffe coffees.