The Coffee Quest Coffee Imports | Ethiopia
Coffee, Import, Europe, Green coffee
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Ethiopia, a new friendship

Since 2015, The Coffee Quest has been sourcing high quality and heavy use Ethiopian lots for its clients. Since then we have always dreamed of a direct sourcing connection into the country. We met with Michael and Emily (Catalyst Coffee) during the SCA in Atlanta in 2016 as partners in the Cameroon Boyo Project. There, we had the time to get to know each other, and each other’s work. We found Michael and Emily to be highly skilled, Michael as Q graders, and Emily as organizer. They told me about their upcoming assignment for Diminion, to help upgrade its supplying partners’ mills, Pride mill and Reko Koba. There in Atlanta the first seeds were planted to start working with them on sourcing Ethiopians lots direct! One of the challenges in sourcing in Ethiopia is the cultural difference, and the way to mitigate the negative effects to communication and results. With Dominion and Catalyst on our side, we have the benefit of in-origin, quality control by a ‘third-party’. That way we have the guarantee that whatever leaves the country on a Dominion sales contract, was QC-ed by Dominion staff, according to Michael’s implemented Quality Control Guidelines. The potential for this collaboration reaches far for The Coffee Quest and our clients. We will be able to communicate directly at the washing station level, and tweak the lots we are using to our markets perfection. We will be able to visit growing areas and processing station together with our American friend to get to know our local partners. We will be able to directly access high demanded grade 1 Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, but also lots like the Sidamo grade 2 (or 2Q), Djimmah’s and Lekempti’s. But most importantly, we will be able to receive fresh specialty order samples from the moment lots are ready for export and start our order book at the start of the season, granting you access to all the best lots and a great variety of choice from our partner mills in our DIRECT! Program.

Update 2018

We are very excited to announce that there will be an origin trip to Ethiopia in February. Check the Ethiopia origin trip page for more info!

Partner washing stations

Reko Koba, Kochere 

In the famed district of Kochere, in the heart of Gedeo Zone, very close to bustling Rego Village and under the benevolent gaze of Reko Mountain, is a new relationship for us this year: Reko Koba mill. On a sunny day, the yellow plastic used to wrap drying cherries stands in contrast to the bright green hill and cerulean blue of the sky. The layout of Reko is typical of an Ethiopian wet mill, but the particulars are quite efficient. 97 full-time employees work at the mill, which has a 3-disk pulper with a 1,000 kg/hour optimum processing pace. An estimated 400,00 kgs of red cherries were produced for washed coffees this year. Other processes include experimental naturals and honey process, very rare to Ethiopia, and implementing some rudimentary parabolic drying beds.
Eyasu Bekele, who is Sidama and has 20 years experience in coffee processing in and around the famous Sidama districts of Dale and Awassa, is Operations manager at Reko Mountain Mill. His assistant manager is Kiros Abraham, with mechanic Samuel providing able oversight of the pulper. Reko Koba is leased by a sister company, which also owns Semalo Pride mill, and on our recommendation is adopting the same process improvements as Pride: floating tanks to remove low-density coffees before processing, replacing bamboo drying beds with metal and plastic mesh to reduce mold risk, and training for process protocols on all fronts. The owner of Reko Koba mill is a tall, beaming older man name Shonta Werku, himself a coffee farmer for decades, who is delighted to see the property and community developed intentionally. 2016/17 is this mill’s first production year and early cupping results are extremely positive. We have hopes of many outstanding lots making their way from this dedicated team to the cupping tables of roasters around the world.

Semalo Pride, Gelana Abaya

Pride Mill is deeply isolated in the Yirgacheffe countryside, and is a new project by our friends at GMT, whose vision is to build Pride Mill and its coffees into the pride of Ethiopia. This is its second year in production, and we have been privileged to consult on many aspects of the project, as well as to represent its entire 2016/17 harvest. 2017/18 coffees are coming in with plenty of promise, including washed, sundried naturals, special prep lots, and honey-process. (Yes, you read that right: honey process from Yirgacheffe.)
Pride Mill sprawls at the base of Mount Lato Samalo, around 7,070 feet elevation, employing 200 laborers for receiving, washing, sorting, drying, and preparing coffees for transport. While located in the Borena Zone, it is about 20 kilometers from Chelelektu village. Technically classified as Gelana Abaya district, it borders Kochere district (the beautiful landmark of Reko Mountain is visible just beyond Lato Samalo) and lies within the coffee area we all know as Yirgacheffe.
We have visited Pride Mil multiple times in the last years, each time marveling the hard work that makes Pride Mill so special. This year we are implementing lots of new projects at Pride Mill, and have many more planned for 2018. These projects include experimenting with using floating tanks to remove low-density cherries before processing, building new drying tables that replace the traditional bamboo mesh with plastic, reducing mold risk, and training employees in consistent protocols for more reliable, repeatable quality lots. The team at Pride Mill, managed by an experienced coffee professional with startling blue eyes named Zodi, has welcomed every bit of input we can bring and communicated that they are excited to have the chance to do progressive work in Ethiopian coffee processing and to produce better and better coffee.
People like Zodi, Desale (assistant manager), Teriku (the engineer at Pride), and Tesfaye (accountant for Pride), and the beautiful community surrounding them and laboring every day during the harvest season in the harsh sun to produce masterpieces for us to share with roasters around the world: they inspire us to labor harder than ever to ensure that everybody gets what they need, that the coffee value chain really is valuable, and that these coffees grow to their full potential.

ET farm profile 2