This is The World (A Whimsical and Sentimental SCA 2019 Recap)
Community Lot: Tsebel (Washed)
The product is secondary. The origin is secondary. The money is necessary, still rather uninteresting. I seek genuine, healthy connection with coffee people everywhere—and I FIND IT EVERYWHERE!!!
So, my SCA recap is this: I love you. We are united. I am more confident than ever that I’m spending my life like precious currency and I’m buying the right thing. Together—you (buyers, baristas, cuppers, onlookers, exporters, producers, marketers, consumers, financiers, logistics people) and I are slowly shifting the direction of the coffee industry toward better business and fairer lives.
My idealism is both confirmed and tempered. I will NOT become jaded and bitter and concede that this is all “just business”. I will fight for equity, for myself and the people who trust me. I will welcome scrutiny and demand transparency from others.
Community Lot: Dur Feres (Natural)
Honoring the liquid that brings us unity, we must also honor the water that makes it possible. Even the name “Yirgacheffe” is loosely translated “land of abundant springs”, and is a region flowing in clean water and washed by pure rains. In acknowledgment of the deep-seated rituals of the Ethiopian tradition, and the way that washed Ethiopian coffee continues to be the holy spring around which we coffee professionals gather to celebrate our own kind of sacrament, we have named our washed community lots “Tsebel”, or “Holy Water”. We source Tsebel and its sister natural coffee, Dur Feres, from the families and communities where we source our highest quality microlots. Tsebel has the same level of traceability, is organic certified, and maintains a steady flavor profile which we ourselves curate using coffees from various regions of Ethiopia as they come ripe. This allows us to keep a fresh crop supply always rotating and gives our roasters the assurance that they can build their sourcing programs around having a constant supply of this coffee at the same price and with the same flavor profile they’ve come to expect.
Getinet Ambelo Farm - Anderacha
Our flagship community lot, Dur Feres, is a coffee we developed by popular demand and with a heck-ton of nostalgia in mind. Founder and Sourcing Director Michael McIntyre came of age as a coffee person in the early aughts when one of the greatest coffees in the world was Mohamed Ogsady’s famed Harar Horse brand (with its iconic cloth label showing a horse silhouetted against the MAO name). Coffee folks everywhere slip into nostalgia when we mention Harar Horse coffee: its thick blueberry puree and chocolate notes took the world by storm in a time when coffees weren’t as distinguished by origin characteristics as we now expect.
We source Dur Feres and its sister washed coffee, Tsebel, from the families and communities where we source our highest quality microlots. Dur Feres has the same level of traceability, is organic certified, and maintains a steady flavor profile which we ourselves curate using coffees from various regions of Ethiopia as they come ripe. This allows us to keep a fresh crop supply always rotating and gives our roasters the assurance that they can build their sourcing programs around having a constant supply of this coffee at the same price and with the same flavor profile they’ve come to expect.
Washed Wush Wush, Ginbo Keffa
Reaching Getinet Ambelo’s coffee farm requires fording a busy stream after winding through increasingly rough roads for kilometer after kilometer. Once you’ve inched over the stones and pulled onto solid ground, the road narrows and leads into the farm, past the living quarters for farm workers and into the 144 acres or so that are planted with coffee. Coffee is intercropped with a number of different types of trees, including (in local names) Birbira, Sholla, Ketto, and Yudo. This intercropping lends a multi-dimensional feel to the farm, with layer upon layer of greenery building from forest floor to understory to canopy.
Along with his coffee, most trees of which are three to five years old, Getinet also grows a variety of spices on his farm, which is characteristic of the Sheka Zone. His farm is around 200 hectares in total and is run by an experienced manager. Daily harvests are grouped from the 150 or so pickers, hand sorted, and then transported to his washing station, where they are processed and eventually mixed in the storehouse.
How This Roaster Won a Golden Bean Award and Rallied the Entire City of Redding, CA
Dinkalem’s washing station is one of the most cheerful we get to visit each year, with smiling faces all around, clean facilities, and a well-organized production flow. Dinkalem himself is a short, cheerful man who’s proud of all he’s accomplished in partnership with his wife, Sofia, for the area. Together they are a kind of power couple: she organizes charitable work such as educational sessions for children and food distribution to disenfranchised Keffa people, and he runs the coffee business in two locations (one in Wush Wush and one in Dinbira for washed and natural processed).
Dinkalem is proud to produce mostly very high-end coffee. His washing station in Wush Wush is 6 years old this season and sits on two hectares, with long drying beds stretching to the far reaches of the property, which is bordered by the glorious forests so characteristic of Kaffa. Approximately 2500 smallholder farmers bring their cherries to the washing station, where coffees are accepted or rejected based on quality and then sorted by hand before pulping.
Some Ramblings on Trust in Coffee & Life
Sam LaRobardiere was on a camping trip with his family when he heard that his roasting company,
Theory Collaborative, had scored the gold medal in the Single Origin Espresso category at the 2018 Gold Bean Awards.
“I lost it!” He says. “I was on cloud nine. I was out on this camping trip with a bunch of people I didn't know very well, and I just started gushing to them. It was amazing!”
We all know that, while it’s got some real positive traits, the emphasis on “Direct Trade” is critically lacking in real-time solutions to the actual, extremely complex, world of coffee trading. At its core level, the emphasis on the connection between roaster + farmer ignores the other stakeholders in the mix: the pickers, mill workers, truck drivers, quality control personnel, insurance agents, exporters, accountants, trainers, customs brokers, importers, warehouses, baristas, and customers, among many others.
ROASTER + FARMER IS AN EASY EQUATION TO REMEMBER.
It’s not the whole picture.