Coffee Production in Yirgacheffe
Coffee grown in the many districts and kebeles of the Gedeo Zone is often referred to as Heirloom varieties, many of which were propagated and distributed to farmers in the last 40 years. Read more about common Ethiopian coffee varieties. Trees grow in red brown fertile soil under the shade of many tree species including Bibira, Cordia Africana, and the subsistence crop Ensete ventricosum.
In the southern region of Ethiopia, farmers pick coffee selectively, harvesting only ripe cherries individually by hand. Pickers rotate among the trees every eight to ten days, choosing only the cherries which are at peak ripeness.
Many pickers average approximately 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day, which will produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. Each worker’s daily haul is carefully weighed, and each picker is paid on the merit of his or her work. The day’s harvest is then transported to the processing plant.
The Koke washing station is named for the Koke kebele, or town, where it is located in the Yirgacheffe district of the Gedeo Zone. 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 multi-generational family farmers.
Ripe coffee cherries are freshly sorted before depulping. Over-ripe and under-ripe beans are handpicked and separated before processing. After depulping, coffee is allowed to ferment naturally for 36-72 hours in the washing station’s 10 cement fermentation tanks. The fermented coffee is washed with clean running water, soaked in clean water with a pH of 7.8, and then dried for 18-21 days on Koke’s 89 raised beds to retain around 11.5% moisture. Dried parchment coffee is stored at the washing station warehouse until it is transported to Addis Ababa for further processing. The parchment coffee is processed at the dry mill to remove the husks and the clean beans are packaged in clearly marked 60kg bags for export.
Coffee is prepared 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. Beans pass through a final hand sort on conveyor belts. The plant’s six storage silos have a capacity of roughly 15,000 metric tons. The warehouses are clean, with ample lighting and ventilation, which are ideal for maintaining the quality of the coffee.