During our visit to Ethiopia earlier this year for the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, we made time to stop by a few farms and meet the producers. We were quite impressed with the offering from the small Shoye co-op in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia (see map below). Monday, May 3rd was our introductory roast for our Organic Ethiopia Sidamo Shoye.
Download this Coffee Report.
REGION OF ORIGIN: Sidamo, sub region of Dale.
ALTITUDE: 1800+ meters
GROWING CONDITIONS: The Sidamo region is blessed with adequate rainfall and ideal conditions for both coffee production and agriculture in general. The hillsides are lush and green and home to thousands of species of plants and animals. Coffee production is only a part of what is produced. The Sidamo area is one of the most heavily populated areas of Ethiopia outside of the capital of Addis however it easily maintains a sense of rustic wildness.
VARIETALS: Heirloom typica and other traditional Ethiopian varietals.
SUSTAINABILITY NOTES This coffee is a certified organic and Fair Trade coffee.This past winter I was fortunate enough to travel to Addis Ethiopia to participate in a round table event designed to increase awareness of the Ethiopian coffee system and how it continues to evolve. I also traveled to Sidamo and Yirgacheffe where I was able to meet the people that produce our coffee and talk about the challenges they face as farmers and community members. We roasted and cupped their coffees on site at the coops and gave the producers the opportunity to taste their own coffees. This often would lead to discussions beyond just taste such as production and market challenges that they are currently facing. This exemplifies for me what relationship coffees are all about.
CUP CHARACTERISTICS This washed coffee is clean and sweet with hints of bergamont and anise. An initial fragrance of jasmine and orange blossom gives way to the sweet delicacy of what you would expect from this washed Ethiopian coffee. The finish is long lasting with lingering notes of exotic spice, specifically frankincense.
PROCESSING NOTES The Shoye Coop has three washing stations to produce their coffee and service its members. Nearly all of their coffee was processed as a washed coffee this past year. This contrasts the national average where 65% of coffee production follows more traditional dry processing methods. Once the coffee is depulped it is passed to elevated drying tables or beds where it is monitored and sorted until it is ready for reposa(resting). The coop produced about two containers or 600 bags of coffee this past year.The Shoye Coop is a part of the Sidamo union of coffee producers.
PRODUCTION NOTES Washed Ethiopian coffees have been receiving better average prices than dry or natural processed coffees at market. As a result there is a trend to produce more and more washed coffees in Ethiopia. The ability to wash coffee is due in part to access to water during the harvest season but also the Coops ability to pool producers together to efficiently use available infrastructure and resources. With the changes at the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange(ECX) over the past two years Coops have a distinct advantage in directly marketing their products to buyers.