This single-farm, female produced coffee was produced by Tarekech Werasa on her 4.9-hectare privately owned farm, Banko Chelchele. To maintain transparency and access support, Tarakech became a member of the Lalisaa project, who help smallholder farmers get their incredible coffees to market.
Tarekech’s farm sits at 1,900m above sea level. This high elevation of the farm, combined with the region’s cool climate is ideal for the slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile. Coffee is grown as a cash crop, alongside other food crops like corn, grain and bananas. The coffee is intercropped amongst native forest and grows under the shade of Birbira, Wanza, and Acacia trees. Like many Ethiopian smallholder farmers, Tarekech uses organic farming practices that rely heavily on the manual labour of her and her family.
ABOUT THE COFFEE
This Grade 1 naturally processed coffee is a mix of three locally recognised native varieties, Wolisho (or Walichu/Welisho), Dega, and Kudhumi, and two JARC varieties, 74110 and 74112.
For many years, most Ethiopian coffee has only been described as being a mix of varieties that we refer to as “heirloom varieties.” This is a term that is all-encompassing and used by many actors in the coffee industry to generally categorise Ethiopian coffee varieties that are from native forest origins. Whilst this describes many of the varieties found in Ethiopia, it is also a bit simplistic and does not acknowledge the varieties that are already locally recognised and cultivated, or those that have been specifically developed and widely distributed by the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre (JARC).
Ethiopia is home to many native or “landrace” varieties in the region that were originally selected from the forest and have been propagated in the Sidama region for decades. There are five popular ones that all have been named after indigenous trees in the area— Bedessa, Kudhumi, Mique, Sawe and Wolisho. There is little documentation on the history of these varieties, and it is hard to know if they represent single varieties or a wider group of varieties; however, it is widely accepted that they play a major role in the quality and floral flavour profile of the coffee from this region. Along with these, JARC varieties were developed using “mother trees” from Ethiopia’s coffee forests, and are now grown for disease and pest resistance, as well as exceptional cup profile, and are released by number. For example, 74110, 74112 and 74116 are all widely propagated in the Sidama growing region.
ABOUT THE PROCESS
This coffee was processed using the natural method; a complex process requiring a high level of attention to detail in order to be done well. Ethiopian coffee has been processed this way by generations of farmers who have mastered the art of the natural method through centuries of tradition and experience.
Each day, Tarekech and her team selectively handpick the ripest red cherries. The cherries are meticulously hand-sorted prior to processing to remove unripe, overripe, or damaged fruit, in order to enhance the quality and sweetness of the cup.
The coffee is then graded by weight and spread evenly on raised African beds (screens) to dry in the sun. Initially, it is laid very thinly and turned regularly to ensure consistent drying and prevent over-fermentation. This is done very carefully to avoid damage to the fruit.
Check out this coffee with its sweet flavours of raspberry and cola here.