Developing a new coffee area in Ethiopia
Coffee is the largest and primary source of income in South-West Ethiopia, but not all areas have tradition and infrastructure for the production of high-quality coffee that is suitable for export. Such an area is Malo Koza, located in Ethiopia's south-western highland, where coffee still grows semi-wild in the highland-forests where Arabica coffee originates from.
Located away from the main road network, the Malo Koza area, has great coffee but coffee production and quality are very low. Reason for this is that coffee trees are located in the distant and the hard-to-reach areas, and coffee harvesting is very labor-intensive as coffee cherries are hand-picked and coffee is transported using donkeys.
Due to inaccessibility and demanding work, when picking a coffee cherries, many of the green-, as well as overriped and rotten coffee cherries end up in the baskets.
"In 2013, Arba Minch University researched on Malo Koza coffee and found that the coffee from Malo Koza is low grade due to a poor harvest and post-harvest process."
Lack of knowledge about the cultivation of coffee trees, picking and sorting coffee cherries as well as lack of facilities and equipment for coffee processing, results in low coffee quality and thereby low coffee prices. Therefore, farmers in the area nowadays try to replace coffee with better-priced cash crops, such as corn, wheat and whatever possible. This results in deforestation due to land clearance and agricultural expansion.
IMPACT ROASTERS is taking a lead
Impact Roasters founder, Daniel, is from South-West Ethiopia and his family has links to the area. Together with local authorities Impact Roasters has identified the potential for producing gourmet coffee in Malo Koza.
In the start of 2017, Impact Roasters started working with the local farmers and the authority on how to improve the coffee quality in the area. Last coffee season, Impact Roasters has invested in the production of drying beds and mats to check coffee quality when introducing a controlled collection of coffee beans and drying process.
Only ripe-red coffee cherries were picked/sorted and dried.
Drying process took about 7-10 days, where the cherries should always be turned over several times a day (picture above) This process allows them to dry evenly on all sides.
(The coffee beans should ideally be dried to the point where they contain 12% moisture).
After drying, the coffee cherries are put through so-called 'de-pulper,' a machine where the cherries, including parchment, is separated from the ‘core,' consisting of two seeds - coffee beans. (Read more about the coffee processes HERE)
The coffee was sample roasted and tasted and - without exaggeration- the Malo Koza coffee tasted amazing! Impact Roasters team is quite convinced that the Malo Koza area has great potential to become the new coffee area, where it produces and produces high-quality organic coffee that is suitable for export.
Cultivation and processing of coffee is a process that requires high expertise and experience to achieve the consistent coffee quality, therefore developing new specialty coffee areas requires greater funding/support regarding knowledge, modern facilities, equipment, and training. These actions can help coffee farmers in the Malo Koza area to grow the best organic coffee and gain access to the best markets (exports) and thereby sustainable income to their families.
On the other hand, the fact is that the climate of Africa has changed, where Ethiopia has experienced an increase in temperature of around 0.3°C per decade and where today’s well known coffee-growing regions in Ethiopia have been negatively influenced by climate change. Developing new coffee regions in Ethiopia is a key component in building resilience for the Ethiopian coffee economy.
"Developing new coffee regions in Ethiopia is a focal strategy in the fight against poverty and climate change."
What do we do
Impact Roasters is now working on securing the funds with help from Engineers Without Borders (Ingeniør uden grænser IGU) to establish a system for the production of gourmet organic coffee in Malo Koza area, by establishing a unit in the form of a Training Center that will organize and engage coffee farmers to grow and produce organic gourmet coffee.
Training Center will teach coffee farmers on how to improve the quality of coffee and give them the ability to judge coffee quality, teach them skills to facilitate the promotion and sale of coffee produced in the area. We expect that approximately 1000 small coffee farmers in the Malo Koza area will be involved in the project.