Production and Processing
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 increase coffee quality. We have been providing feedback to Koke and sourcing with them for more than five 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. Producers plant maize and enset food crops as well as coffee, with Biribira, Acacia, and Cordia Africana used as shade trees. Temperatures in the area range from 11.38⁰C to 25.57⁰C and annual rainfall is 1525 mm.
Their many generations of experience is evident in processing Natural coffees. Cherries are sorted by hand upon arrival to the washing station to remove the less dense cherries, then dried on the washing station’s more than 100 raised beds for 21 days before resting for a month in a well-ventilated storehouse. 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 the city of Addis. 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 processing steps are mechanized or have electronic components, including final hand picking on conveyor belts. The six storage silos 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 ideal for maintaining coffee quality.
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.