In a previous blog, we touched on the responsibility of buying power in of Ethiopian coffee and the role the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) plays. This system remedies disparity amongst coffee producing communities, though it trades that equality by limiting the transparency and identity of the farmers and their product. Our newest Ethiopian coffee is an example of a coffee that is able to transcend that system through the collaboration of a washing station, a coffee producer / exporter, and a specialty green importing company, who all hold the same vision for transparency and quality as we do here at Mission Coffee Co.
A few of the producers who deliver coffee to the Reko Washing Station. Photo Credit: Trabocca
Our Ethiopia Reko gets its name from the washing station in Kochere where it was processed. The Kochere region is one of the woredas, or districts, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia. The washing station is itself named after a nearby mountain, Reko, which is notoriously hard to climb; the word translates roughly to “challenge.” The name holds symbolic value and represents the challenges that both Faysel A. Yonis, founder of Testi Coffee, and Masreshu Sima, founder of the washing station, face providing high quality, traceable coffees. This particular coffee is a great example of how impactful relationships cultivate transparency and respect towards farmers and shines a spotlight on the wonderful cherries they produce.
Pictured above are coffee cherries being laid on raised beds for drying, probably towards the beginning stages of this process due to their still vibrant color. Photo Credit: Trabocca
The Reko washing station makes a conscious effort to support and sustain surrounding coffee communities. During harvest time (which normally takes place from mid-October into late-January) farmers are able to bring their red cherries to the washing station. Cherries are pulped with an old-school Agard pulping-machine, and are sent to fermentation tanks, where they sit for roughly 36-48 hours (enough time so the remaining fruit, also called mucilage, is loose). The mucilage is then washed off the coffee with water from a nearby river. The freshly washed cherries are then moved to raised drying beds, where it rests for 10-12 days. These structures keep the cherries off the ground and allow for air to circulate more easily. This results in cherries that are more evenly dry, facilitating more consistent coffee.
Fully washed coffee (or coffee that had it's cherry removed) dries on raised beds. Photo Credit: Trabocca
It is at this point where Testi Coffee comes into play; sorting and screening of the recently dried parchment beans. This family owned company aims to provide farmers, their families, and their communities more crop opportunities, and also facilitates social program initiatives to additionally aid the coffee grower community. More information on Testi’S Project Direct is available by following this link . Testi Coffee then holds a relationship with Trabocca, a specialty coffee sourcing company that emphasizes traceability in their green buying. The relationship between Tetsi Coffee as a producer and exporter and Trabocca coffee as a sourcer creates an impactful opportunity to facilitate buying transparency to the Reko washing station and the farmers that utilize it.
A washing channel, used post fermentation during the washing process. This ingenious process utilizes density in connection with water flow to sort various seeds throughout the differing channels. Denser beans sink in the first channel, and the remainders move on, sinking when their density beckons so.Photo Credit: Trabocca
Our Ethiopian Reko is mix of Kurume, a well-known Ethiopian variety and mixed heirloom varieties. Kurume, unique to the Kochere region, has a bright acidity due to the high altitude of the region. The mixed heirloom varieties represent the somewhere between six and ten thousand coffee varieties that exist in Ethiopia. Such an extensive number of coffee varieties under the heirloom name is due to multiple factors, including the country’s extensive history with the plant, regional name differences amongst differing woredas, natural and forced cross-pollination, and the lack of transparency in sourcing Ethiopian coffee.
The roasted bean will hold juicy tasting notes of apricot and tangerine, with some reminiscence of pomegranate. Jasmine and black tea-like flavors will also come forward to create a zingy, complex, exciting cup. Having been previously featured as an component in our seasonal Polar Blend, we are eager and excited to present this coffee in single origin form.