Guji and Yirgacheffe
Guji is a zone in the Oromia Region of southern Ethiopia. Most residents of this region are Oromo and speak the Oromo language, which is entirely different from Ethiopia’s main language of Amharic. Like many of the country’s coffee growing regions, the culture of the Guji Zone varies from woreda to woreda and speaks to the diversity of people who cultivate coffee. More small washing stations are being built in Guji to respond to the demand for improvements in processing to fully capture the range of attributes found in Ethiopian coffee. The zone’s principal fresh water source is the Ganale Dorya river, which also acts as the boundary line with the neighboring Bale zone to the east.
To the west, Guji borders the southern Gedeb woreda of the Gedeo Zone in the neighboring Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, part of the Yirgacheffe coffee growing area.
Gedeb is one of the four districts, also called woredas, of the Gedeo zone, with the Kochere woreda to the west, Yirgacheffe woreda to the northwest, Bule woreda to the north, and the Oromia region to the south and east. The nearby Yirgacheffe woreda gives this coffee region its name.
Literally translated as “Land of Many Springs,” Yirgacheffe has the ideal topography, elevation, and water sources to produce and process exceptional coffees. This region is located inside of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, which is home to 45 distinct people groups. Coffee farmers in Yirgacheffe are typically multi-generational small-scale landholders, sometimes farming only a few hectares. Most coffees in Yirgacheffe are sold as cherry to centralized washing stations that help further separate flavor profiles.
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 varieties cultivated among other species in coffee gardens and coffee forests.