Ethiopia, the birthplace of Coffea Arabica. As I mentioned on a previous blog post related to Ethiopia’s forest coffees, coffee trees have grown there naturally and wild for centuries. I won’t go into Ethiopia as an origin, as this would be a much longer post and I do want to concentrate on that on a later date in much more detail.
So, as with our other Ethiopian forest coffee from the Bench Maji zone, this one is also wild coffee but comes from the Kaffa Forest. Now, Kaffa is an incredibly special place, particularly for us coffee lovers!
Kaffa is the alleged botanical birthplace of Coffea Arabica, aka coffee. This is the species that for centuries compiled all of the world’s commercially traded coffees and Arabica coffee still takes up 90% of the coffee drunk worldwide. The cloud forests in the Kaffa region are home to the last remaining wild growing Coffea Arabica. This is where for centuries, wild growth and undisturbed botanical evolution has yielded over 5000 varieties of coffee.
The Kaffa zone is one of the greenest parts of the country. Coffee plants here are a part of an ecosystem that has been used by the local inhabitants throughout the past for personal use and sale in local markets. Between Djimma and Gambella these wild forests and coffee plantations are what shape the landscape.
KAFFA BIOSPHERE RESERVE
The Kaffa Biosphere Reserve is, yes, located in the Kaffa zone approximately 460km southwest of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The southern boundary of the Biosphere Reserve is formed by the Bonga National Forest Priority Area (NFPA) and the eastern boundary follows the Adiyo Woreda with the Gojeb River forming the northern boundary. As briefly mentioned above, the Kaffa Zone contains more than 50% of the remaining montane forests in Ethiopia.
The Biosphere Reserve includes a unique coffee culture that is deeply engrained in the Ethiopian economy and history. The area includes an array of rural settlements, traditional land-use patterns and sites of cultural and natural significance, home to around 608,227 people. The main economic activities of the area, as you may have guessed, are dominated by that contributes around 41% to the GDP, 80% of exports and 80% of the labour force. I would say those are great statistics to keep the agriculture industry there going.
TEGA & TULA FARM, our coffee
The farm’s story starts with Mr Ahabu Woubshet, a former chief operations officer of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and a long-time business and financial professional. He purchased the farms after finding himself among other investors who shared the same vision where the potential of speciality coffee was seen as a great step to make not only for personal investment but also as way to help and support the community. Ahabu’s search for the right plot of land started after several years in the ECX, where he found himself wanting to have more of hands-on experience with coffee. He was determined to find land that he would be able to transform into a model coffee farm. His focus, apart from being on the quality of the coffee would be on the quality of life for the people involved. Ahabu, eventually found what he says was’ the perfect place to build not only a coffee farm and farmhouse but also a tree-house for his kids and the occasional coffee-buying visitor’.
The high altitude and cool forest clouds of the Kaffa zone, are perfect conditions for growing coffee and this why the Tega & Tula farms are located here. The total area of the farm is just over 500 hectares. The plantation produces washed, sun-dried Arabica Coffee at speciality grade and yields on average 500 tons of coffee annually, grown at an altitude of between 1700 -2000 masl.
The farm straddles the two villages of Tega & Tula, hence the name chosen for the farm. Ahabu renovated the existing farmland and planted it with coffee. He did this with extreme caution ensuring lots are separated by variety. He was able to take advise from long-time coffee professionals about topographic conditions and how to improve his processing methods and hence achieve better prices. Over the years he has been able to invest in better technology and is able to train and pay his pickers considerably better than the local average. This is a great achievement and has led to further investments that have led to new relationships with the employees who staff Tega & Tula.
The farm employs many locals and has become an important part of the local economy which is one of the elements that Ahabu wanted to concentrate on and help achieve a better quality of life for the community. During the harvest season he can employ 350-400 workers and in 2019 he had 50 permanent staff. The community has also benefited from school programs, school projects and there were plans to repair the road that connects the two villages.
Over 80% of the coffees produced in the farms, has been given class Q1 and Q2 certifications. Traditional, origin-based varieties are grown here such as the washed Kaffa Forest grade 1 which is the coffee we have sourced from there. Other varieties grown there are the Limu grades 1&2 (washed) and the sun dried Kaffa forest variety.
The coffees here are fully traceable and organic certified under the EU Regulation on organic agriculture. The farm is also working on the Rain Forest Alliance (RFA) certification for the farm making Tega & Tula a leading commercial farm in Ethiopia meeting all international certification standards.
The farm uses advanced eco-friendly techniques to process their coffee. After the cherries are handpicked and go through the first phase of processing in the plantation. Tega Tula has an in-house processing facility with two state of the art washing stations, drying beds and a warehouse storage facility. Once this initial process happens on the farm, the coffee is then transported to the central processing factory where the coffee is further modified and inspected for quality.
So, without further ado we are thrilled to introduce this sustainable, traceable, single-farm coffee that, if we say so ourselves 😉, is well worth grabbing a bag of:
Variety: Wild Kaffa Forest coffee
Altitude: 1693-1860 masl
…and the all-important tasting notes: very floral with lime, bergamot, caramel, berry; soft, juicy, and balanced. Fruity acidity and a smooth sugary mouthfeel.