Since that first visit, I’ve been following the Western coffees very closely, especially those from the Goma and Gera districts, and we’ve bought coffees from famed coops in the area such as: Duromina and Biftu Gudina. All of these co-ops used to be part of Technoserve (TNS) supported projects to improve quality and economic sustainability. It was inspiring to watch the TNS work unfold. Prior to their involvement, coffee from Jimma was considered some of the lowest quality in Ethiopia, and after a number of years working on quality and business improvements, Jimma (specifically near Agaro town) was producing some of Ethiopia’s finest coffee! Simply put, TNS helped co-ops unlock the raw potential that existed in the area, and now private washing stations have also followed suit. Now there is an incredible density of private washing stations as well as private farms around the town of Agaro, also producing stellar quality.
There are two major factors that differentiate Jimma Zone from Gedeo (near Yirgacheffe) where we buy most of our coffee. The first is that Jimma gets around three times more rain during the wet season compared to Gedeo zone. All this rain can be great for the health of the coffee trees if it comes at the correct time, but if it’s during the harvest, it’s exceedingly difficult to dry coffee. It’s for this reason that I’m very cautious with coffees from Jimma, as most of the coffee I sample from there is under-dried. The 2nd biggest difference (between Gedeo and Jimma) is genetics of the coffee trees. The varieties of coffee growing in the two areas are vastly different, and this can been seen visually in bean shape and size and of course via taste! The coffees of Jimma have much larger, wider beans as compared to the narrow, long bean, shape of the Gedeo zone. The coffees of Jimma tend to be more floral and Nezif Sherfu’s coffee is no exception, offering a delightful perfumed jasmine note.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.