We have been working with producers from Shantawene since 2015. Shantawene village is situated between the village of Bombe and the Bombe mountain. The producers are part of a member organization consisting of 1500 out-growers located in various parts of the mountain range.
Cherries from this village are processed at Daye Bensa’s Shantawene washing station, at site which as recently received lots of attention due to the fact that the 2020 #7 Ethiopian Cup of Excellent coffee was processed here. Daye Bensa, is also investing in upgrading processing equipment on the site, to start working on new and exciting processing varieties of the farmers Heirloom Shantawene coffee. It is for example one of the production site, of the new dry fermented process, although the batch we are buying this year is a wet fermented wased.
Daye Bensa is a coffee export company, founded by the brothers Asefa and Mulugeta Dukamo, in 2006. Asefa and Mulugeta have lots of experience, and started out as coffee suppliers in the Sidama area. The younglings of the family have also joined the company as Daye Bensa started to grow, and now Gentlemen like Kenean, schooled in the USA work at commerce and finance, and Eliyas on Quality. This high spirited family company supplies us now for the third year, and we are already planning for the fourth.
The company works with various communities of outgrowers with whom the organise cherry production. Daye Bensa works with multiple washingstation in Sidamoa Bensa area, most of which we are still to explore. For the past 5 years, we have worked with their washingstation; Shantawene, Keramo, and Bombe but Daye Bensa has many more gems to explore.
This year, we undertook an expedition by cup and spoon, of multiple new and exciting stations, Daye Bensa has to offer, and we are proud to announce we have found amazing new profiles under the Bensa sun. We will be working with some new stations going forward, among which:
- Hamasho: Keramo’s neighbour station Hamasho boasts an amazing intensity in cup profile. With altitudes up to 2360 meter above sea level, one of our highest growing coffees.
- Segera station, to the south east of bombe. In this station Daye Bensa practised dry fermentation of washed coffee, which creates an amazingly tropical profile of orange, passion fruit and peach. An amazing addition in terms of diversity.
- Gatta Farm: Daye Bensa also runs a dedicated specialty coffee producing farm, called Gatta farm at the heart of Shantawene Village, in the midst of natural forest and indigenous trees which are expected to be older than 200 years. It is surrounded by rivers, one of them separating Shantawene from Bombe which runs from the hills above Karamo. The farm grows and dries coffee, and is also supplied by registered out-grower farmers from adjacent villages. This year, we are working with Gatta farm to produce among the first Ethiopian Microlots to hit the market. In this year’s assortment we present; a honey loy, an Anaerobic natural and a Natural micro lot of absolute pristine quality. read more about Gatta farm, in it’s dedicated blog which we are still writing.
Cup of Excellence:
Last year (2020), Daye Bensa won the 7th place in the Cup of Excellence with their Assefa Dukamo Korma Natural, grown on Gatta farm and processed in Shantawene station. This year, Assefa Dukamo of Daye Bensa is participating with a washed Hamasho coffee. While writing this blog he is among the 150 competitors still in the race for 1st place. We wish him all the best. If you haven’t had Hamasho washed yet, this is your chance. It is on our list!
Read more about Daye Bensa, and their experience in the Cup of Excellence, in our blog series. New edition coming up soon.
Shantawene cherries are processed at Shantawene Gafisse Washing Station situated at the centre of Daye Bensa’s world of amazing coffee, and the station is one of the location from which Daye Bensa spread knowledge of better processing techniques around their network. Shantawene station is also the site on which the 2020 #7 Cup of Excellence coffee was processed, it’s cherry produced on the nearby Gatta speciality farm.
The cherry delivered there grows between 1990 and 2190 meter above sea level. The beans are very dense coffee, with heavy concentrations of the smaller screen sizes (the majority of the coffee screen sizes at 13-14) which is highly unusual and reflects the higher elevations where the coffee is grown.
The washed Shantawene we bought this year is traditionally wet fermented during 36 to 72 hours, and then dried on African beds covered with clean plastic mesh and sheet, for about 9 to 12 days to around 10% moisture. during high sun, the beds are covered to prevent over drying.
Natural Shantawene is made from well selected, ripe cherry. The cherry is floated upon reception to remove any low quality cherry. The cherry is then dried on African beds for 14 to 18 days. The cherries are locally hulled into unsorted natural beans, and then transported to Addis for final sorting.
Cherry prices have been steadily on the rise in Ethiopia. In case of Sidama, prices went up from 15-17 Birr in 2019, to 20-24Birr in 2020, to 31 Birr/kg this year. This price increase is to the benefit of the producer, for which we applaud them!
The steep increase in prices has many reasons which I will touch upon in the segment below. What you are about to read there, is my interpretation of what we have seen, experienced, and what has been told to us directly.
Buyer power: weakening due to liberalization and fragmentation.
As the number of exporters increase, and the price of cherry rises, a lot of exporters see their profits in jeopardy. The reality in rural Ethiopia is that your competition can act very unpleasantly, if you start a price ‘war’ to secure more cherry. That way, one of the strategies to pay your farmers well and keep them dedicated in their role to produce great coffee, while keeping the competition at bay, is to organize a second payment for when competitive emotions have settled, and the coffee season is over. The other way to look at this, is that making these types of inter-exporter price agreements is actually damaging to the farmers independent position, and relies on the responsibility of the exporter to share the profits with the farmers.
Supplier power: strengthening due to producer confidence and options, and regulation.
In Ethiopia, many coffees are produced by washing stations that buy cherries from smallholder farmers. This year, the cherry price in Ethiopia in general and Sidama specifically, have again risen with about 50%, even with a low C-market price. One of the reasons for this is the local competitiveness on the cherry market. Policy changes and liberalization of the coffee market meant the number of exporters competing for cherries rose significantly. Moreover, since last year the Ethiopian Central Bank has installed minimum prices, preventing exporters to strike low value high volume deals with large buyers, and effectively elevating the value to the Ethiopia crop. This also comes to the benefit of the producers. Finally, last years’ first Cup of Excellence, has involved a multitude of producers Nation-wide, who now start to feel like Coffee Professionals being part of a global specialty chain. The producer are getting more confident, and have more success in enabling their producer power, against buyers. This situation created a ripple effect over the entire country, which turned to the farmer’s benefit. Although cherry prices previous decade were as low as 10 ETB/kg, in 2020 they average around 20-24 ETB, across the country, and this year peak above 30ETB/kg.
What will happen next
Ethiopia has many underexplored coffee regions, were coffee can still bring more development, For example Limu’s and Guji’s. In these area’s a lot of investment is being done to increase coffee production and processing, and new initiatives are taking place, partly due to lower cherry prices. One must remember however, that these area’s also face higher investment and transaction cost for processors and exporters, and what we are witnessing here is a shift of the frontier. Where area’s like Sidama consolidate their position in the global specialty coffee market, to the benefit of the producers, area’s like Limu and Guji still have some way to go to grow to their full potential for producers and exporters alike.
We will keep exploring the Price element of our business with our Ethiopian export partners, and will provide as much insight as we can into the realities of Ethiopian Coffee Business.
All of the coffees coming from Daye Bensa, our exporter are certified with Organic Certifications, namely:
- UTZ certification: UTZ certified coffee is traceable from producer to roaster to consumer.
- NOP certification is needed for those who want to export their products to the US labelled as 100% organic. More information: here.
- EC – EU declaration of conformity
- JAS – Japanese Organic Regulation
- RainForest Alliance: The RainForest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal, to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.
- In 2020 Daye Bensa received the organic certification for exporting fully organic crops next year!