Farm info

Ally has a long-standing relationship with the family-owned Koke washing station, which was built in 2011 and has seen many improvements since 2015, when the washing station staff began providing guidance to contributing producers regarding steps to take for increased coffee quality. We have been providing feedback and purchasing the best lots of Natural and Honey coffees for several years, and we look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership. The Koke station stands on the side of a hill, with coffee grown above and below the station. For the last three years, the Koke station managers have been separating out the higher elevation cherries for Ally, and the quality clearly shows. 96 small scale farmers provided cherries to Koke this harvest, most of them multigenerational family farmers.

Kurume is one of Ethiopia’s regional landrace varieties from Yirgacheffe. Surveys carried out between 1989 and 1994 help identify local landraces by name. Prior to the 1970’s there was essentially no intentional breeding or variety selection at a national level in Ethiopia; individual farmers selected seeds locally to reproduce their crop. But a devastating epidemic of coffee berry disease in the 1960’s led researchers to establish the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) and begin cataloging coffee trees that demonstrated resistance to both coffee berry disease and drought as well as producing high yields.

These selections were approached as a national crop improvement program, but in the fields the newly selected and resistant varieties did not perform optimally in climates different from that of Jimma, where the plants had been bred. Researchers at JARC pivoted, cataloging and selecting local landrace varieties that were both naturally suited to the environments where they already grew and representative of the cup flavor profiles of Ethiopia’s many coffee growing regions.

Kurume is one of the regional landraces identified in the Yirgacheffe area. As with many regional landraces, the names applied to the coffee varieties are borrowed from the names of indigenous trees. The Kurume tree bears small fruit with a good annual year, similar to Kurume coffee’s small cherries and bountiful harvest. Kurume is a commonly grown variety among farmers in Guji and Gedeo, which includes Yirgacheffe. Sometimes, the Kurume name is applied to JARC-selected varieties due to the similarities in the trees’ appearance.

Dega is another regional landrace named for an indigenous tree. The wood of the Dega tree omits a sweet, fragrant aroma when burned for firewood, similar to the smell of coffee roasting. The Amharic word “dega” means “cool highland area,” which is also applicable to the agroecological conditions where Dega coffee grows.

Wolisho is yet another regional landrace named for a tree indigenous to Gedeo and the surrounding area. This tree bears large fruit with inconsistent yearly yields. Wolisho coffee has large cherries and long leaves.

Their many generations of experience is evident in Natural coffees that are dried on the washing station’s 106 raised beds for 21 days before resting for a month in a well-ventilated storehouse. Cherries are sorted by hand upon arrival to the washing station to remove the less dense cherries. Tarps are often used to keep the coffee from drying too quickly and losing its beautiful and characteristic cup profile. When coffee is dried inside the cherry, it is milled to removed the dried pulp and parchment at the same time. Green coffee is color sorted prior to export.

Koke Natural was prepped for export at Tracon Trading’s coffee cleaning and storage plant on 30,000 sq meters of land in Addis Ababa. The plant is equipped with modern Pinhalense coffee processing machines and a Buhler Z+ color sorter. The machine has the capacity of processing six tons per hour.  All the processing jobs are mechanical and electronic including final hand picking on conveyor belts. The six storage silos of the plant have a capacity of accommodating about 15,000 metric tons of coffee at a time. The warehouses are clean, with ample lighting and ventilation, which are very ideal for keeping the quality of the coffee.

Region

Yirgacheffe

Literally translated as “Land of Many Springs,” Yirgacheffe has the ideal topography, elevation, and water sources to produce and process exceptional coffees. Yirgacheffe is one of the woredas, a district like a municipality or county that includes many towns, of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. Yirgacheffe is part of the Gedeo Zone of SNNPR and the Yirgacheffe woreda is bordered to the south by Kochere, to the west by Oromia Zone, to the north by Wenago, to the east by Bule, and to the southeast by Gedeb. The Yirgacheffe woreda is 409km from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa and has a population of almost 200,000 people, less than 10% of whom live in cities.

Coffee farmers in Yirgacheffe are typically multi-generational, small-scale landholders, sometimes with only a few acres of land. Most coffees in Yirgacheffe are sold as cherry to centralized washing stations that help further separate flavor profiles. Many farmers also grow the subsistence crop enset ventricosum, also known as false banana.

Yirgacheffe is considered by many to be the birthplace of coffee and the coffee trees grown in the region are a naturally occurring mix of heirloom varietals cultivated among other species in coffee gardens and coffee forests. Washed Coffee was introduced to Ethiopia in the 1970’s, and Yirgacheffe was the location of the first wet processing mill.

The climate in Yirgacheffe is warm and temperate. In the winter, there is much less rainfall than the summer, with an annual average of 1525mm and a difference of 246mm of precipitation between the wettest and driest months. The average temperature across Yirgacheffe is 18.4 degrees Celsius.