Nensebo is situated next to the Harenna Forest inside Bale Mountains National Park. This area is particularly significant as it’s one of the few remaining natural forests in Ethiopia. As a consequence of this location, the area of Nensebo gets quite a bit more rainfall than dryer areas to the west, like Yirgacheffe and Gedeb.
Rain is ultimately a very good thing for coffee…if it comes at the right time. Some years, Nensebo receives rains throughout the dry season, and it’s very difficult to dry the coffee. In these years, even though the coffee is tasting great, I’ve had to pass on it because I knew it would prematurely degrade. Still, other years the Nensebo rains cause erratic flowering and reduction in yields. Then there are some years where it all aligns, and magical coffees are produced. This is one of those years, and this coffee is undoubtably the best coffee I’ve ever tasted from Nensebo. It’s tropical, floral and complex, and it stands up against even the best coffees from the powerhouse regions of Gedeb and Uraga.
Of course, it’s not just weather that delivers great coffee. Intentional quality control by the washing station staff is also required, particularly by the manager. The manager of Refisa is Semeneh Alemu, and he’s really excecuted on quality this season! Last but certainly not least, I’m very grateful to the 567 small holder farmers delivering coffee to Refisa, as the care they’ve taken of their trees and the diligent cherry sorting they’ve undertaken has graced us with this beautiful coffee.
Just a few years ago, there was very little coffee produced in Nensebo, but over the last 3 years there has been quite a bit of investment in the area, with many new washing stations being built. This coffee washing station, for example, was bought 3 years ago by Veer Trading PLC, which is a sister company of Snap Speciality Coffee.
With a background as a computer trading company, Snap is actually quite new to coffee. It’s pretty impressive to see that in a 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. He’s full of passionate zeal and boundless energy. He has a keen understanding of quality and the factors affecting it. Undoubtedly, he’ll be leaving a major mark on the Ethiopian Speciality Coffee sector in the years to come.
This green was frozen immediately upon arrival.