We’re delighted to bring you this special lot of coffee from the sub-kebele (sub-neighbourhood) of Kubi within the Worka Chelbessa kebele (neighbourhood). I last visited the Chelbessa washing station, where this coffee is processed, in 2020, but the project to select cherry from only the Kubi area began just last season.
I’m really excited by a new-ish trend in Ethiopian coffee to get hyper-specific with area selections to explore the differences within a small area. The results have been surprising. Not only am I seeing different flavours from a small area, but collections of different coffee varieties as well. This Kubi lot is Kurume, which is a small, compact bean. It is dense and full of complex flavour.
The Chelbessa washing station processes coffee from all the areas within the Worka Chelbessa area, and it’s managed by Girum Assafa (see photo of him to the left) for the last number of years.
This station is on the smaller side, processing coffee for 468 small holder farmers. I was happy to hear that they’re offering second payments to growers, as the prices paid to farmers upon receipt of coffee cherry are just too low everywhere in Ethiopia, in my view.
The station is owned by Veer Trading PLC, which is a sister company of Snap Specialty Coffee. With a background as a computer trading company, Snap is quite new to coffee. It’s impressive to see that in only few short years, they’ve ascended to contend for a top spot amongst the quality specialty exporters in Ethiopia. I believe that the explanation for this rapid development lies in the union of excellent capitalization and the expertise of a few passionate coffee people. Credit belongs to entrepreneur Negusse Debela for his willingness to invest in washing stations and a dry mill, right off the cuff, with the belief that if you build it, they will come. On the coffee quality side, much credit belongs to Abenezer Asfaw, the supply chain manager for Snap. Abenezer is only a young man (compared to me ;-), but that’s really his advantage as he’s full of passionate zeal and boundless energy. He has a keen understanding of quality and the factors affecting it, and will undoubtedly be leaving a major mark on the Ethiopia Specialty Coffee sector in the years to come.
I’m sad to have missed two years of visiting Ethiopia in 2021 and 2022 (so far) but I’m also very grateful for the relationships I’ve formed over the last decade of visits every season, which I’ve been able to lean on to ensure we continue to have access to great coffee in Ethiopia. I had to miss my visit last year not due to the pandemic actually, but due to a full out war which has been raging in the northern region of Tigray since November, 2020. Tigray is a region that borders the northern country of Eritrea. The brutal war caused a full-on humanitarian crisis in the area. It’s heart-wrenching to learn about the acts of brutal violence which have occurred in a country I love dearly. Thankfully, in March/April 2022, the Ethiopian government declared an indefinite humanitarian truce. This is clear progress but reconciliation between the government and Tigray leaders will be a long road ahead.
So, as I enjoy this coffee and am very grateful for the efforts and care of the Ethiopian hands involved, I’ll reflect on these challenges facing Ethiopia and my hope for their peaceful future.
As always, this green was frozen immediately upon arrival.