Iconic. Distinctive. The original, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is a magical place, and one of the most challenging places to source coffee. Often green buyers (those who source and select coffee for coffee roasters) when at origin would have a yarn about the first country they started sourcing coffee from. Matt, former head roaster, shared that Ethiopia was his first, to which their reaction was along the lines of - ‘wow, thrown in the deep end.’
The coffee is unique, brilliant, regionally distinct, inconsistent, and not always traceable at times.
Basha Bekele, in the hat, processing natural coffee.
The old model - the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) began as an alternative trading market, it made no room for clear traceability of producers’ coffee. However, the past years has seen massive changes - one of which being the relaxing of exporting regulations. Independent producers are able to export their coffee to an international market in a traceable manner, ultimately opening the market for buyers to support individual producers.
After a number of years of purchasing co-operative coffees like Yachi & Yukro, we're now able to have a more direct line with individual producers.
That direct line to producers was aided massively by the opening of COQUA, in 2018, a facility in Addis Ababa city. Working with former TNS employees Ansha Yassin and Moata Raya, both stalwarts of the industry, and through our mutual desire for collaboration, Seven Seeds were able to take part in the conception and funding of a space where coffee buyers can come and experience a vast array of coffees across the unique regions of the Ethiopian countryside.
Ansha, left, of COQUA.
COQUA functions primarily as a lab for roasting and cupping samples, with an office for meeting producers, union members and potential clients. Being able to cup and taste the difference in flavour profiles of coffees grown in Agaro or West Wollega, Shakiso or Kochere, Yirgacheffe or Bench Maji, provides one with a greater understanding of the scope of profiles.
Another change you may have picked up on is the varietal naming. In a place where coffee is more often wild grown, and at times impossible to pinpoint specific varieties - so you will see the variety listed as ‘Varied Semi Forest Coffees.’
Mustefa Abalulesa, right, a new producer we bought from this year.
For the past few years we’ve purchased from washing stations in the woredas (districts) that surround the Agaro region in Jimma like Yukro, Yachi. These coffees tend to show tropical and light stone fruit characters; nectarine, apricot, honey sweetness (wild or manuka) and clean citric acidity.
Through being able to work with private producers who otherwise wouldn’t be in touch with an international market, Seeds is going to be able to introduce our customers to some stunning coffees, with unique flavour profiles that we haven’t tasted before. And, of course, still supporting the co-ops that we have all come to know and love.
It means we're able to publish Farmgate prices again, and drum roll...two natural processed coffees from the Sidama region.