“Genalem Gewyero” – God is good! – The motto which hangs on the entrance to Dinkalem’s dry mill, across the road from the Wush Wush washing station.
Catalyst tells us that Dinkalem’s washing station is one of the most cheerful 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).
They live in the town of Wush Wush in a rambling house that seems mostly hallways and surprising corners. Sofia is known for her kirkele, or lamb stew, all savory chunks of stewed lamb so tender it drips off the spoon, gleaming fatty, buttery broth, and surprising layers of flavor that just keep revealing themselves on the tongue. 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. Dinkalem has a four-disk Agard pulper with two repasser disks, which receives regular maintenance. At its highest capacity, it can process approximately 4000 kgs per hour. The nearby Agama River provides water for washing through the serpentine channels at Dinkalem’s washing station; after coffees have been pulped, fermented, and washed, they are placed on the drying beds to reach optimal moisture content. The drying beds are composed of plastic and wire mesh on local tree materials, and parchment is typically dried at a depth of approximately 2 cm. The workers at the washing station carefully stir, hand-pick defects, and cover the parchment multiple times a day depending on sun or rain. Once they’ve reached optimal moisture content, the parchment is moved to the storage shed which is clean and made from sheet metal as is customary in the area. Dinkalem religiously prohibits shoes, perfume, and any food or beverages in the storage shed. Once he’s ready to transport the coffee, Dinkalem loads it in trucks and take sit to the warehouse in nearby Bonga, where it is analyzed by officials and registered with a grade. At that point it is then trucked to Addis Ababa.
In 2015 we were introduced to Michael and Emily from Catalyst as friends of the Cameroon Boyo project. Back then we always had the idea of working more closely with Ethiopian coffees. We had the chance to follow their work, and after testing out several Ethiopian lots, we decided to import our first container in 2017. The work they achieve with specific washing stations fits in the vision from The Coffee Quest to integrate traceablility, collaboration and quality into the supply chain. Visits to Ethiopia have only confirmed the progress they are making! As direct partners they provide the missing link in terms of cultural understaning and local efforts to provide consistency in quality, with the added bonus of discovering the origins behind the now famous “Wush Wush”.