I visited a number of washing stations in these districts, and collected numerous samples to later taste. It was interesting to contrast the washing stations of West Guji versus say Kochere in Gedeo. On the surface, they look very similar and my take on the primary difference is the genetics of the coffee trees in the areas.
Mitiku’s washing stations receives cherry from about 650 coffee farmers in the area, whose altitude ranges from 1950m all the way up to 2250m. The coffee is processed using the standard method for the area: 36-48 hours of underwater fermentation, followed by 12-15 days of drying on raised beds. The washing station is tucked in the deep south of the region, just on the border of Hambela in the kebele (neighbourhood) of Yabitu Tome.
There’s been a lot of industry discussion about varieties of coffee in Ethiopia, with a strong desire by stakeholders to have more specific information beyond “heirloom”. Ethiopian coffee varieties can be broken down into two major categories: “local landrace” and “improved varieties”. These names might seem a bit cryptic, but they are the terms used the Jima Agriculture Research Center (JARC) for the categorization and development of coffee varieties in Ethiopia. Basically, “local landrace” means heirloom and “improved varieties” means varieties that JARC have bread by crossing existing varieties, usually to improve yield and/or pest/disease resistance. Of course, within each category are specific varieties, each local landrace variety has a name and the improved varieties use numbers for names. The question is: what varieties is this coffee composed of?? I’m told that it’s local landraces varieties, but I don’t have specifics on which varieties. I’m also a touch skeptical that improved varieties are not mixed-in, given that these two categories of varieties have co-habituated for decades. Over the next few seasons, during my trips to Ethiopia, I’ll be attempting to obtain better insight into what’s really growing in the regions we buy from! Shout out to Counter Culture Coffee for openly sharing their work to decode this tricky subject!
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.