DUMERSO WASHING STATION, DUMERSO, YIRGACHEFFE, ETHIOPIA
Hirut (aka Beti) bought what had been a defunct washing station and warehouse building in 2010 in the small community of Dumerso, located in Ethiopia’s renowned Yirgacheffe region, known for its high quality coffee. About 700 small family farmers grow and harvest coffee cherries in this area. The washing station had been built in 1998 but never operated. Beti upgraded it and has been running it since 2013.
The coffees that have been grown for centuries in small plots in this region are world-famous, but drying and sorting the coffee requires more space and equipment than most people have available. Beti's efforts created a centralized space where coffee growers can wash, sort, and dry their coffees, using both the washed method and traditional in-the-fruit or "natural" method. The resulting coffees are everything you could wish for in a Yirgacheffe coffee - fruity, complex, but also crisp and without any taint or musty funk, thanks to scrupulous attention to detail in the sorting and drying processes.
During the harvest season, the Dumerso washing station now provides employment for nearly 400 people from the community. Beti worked hard to acquire a coffee export license, once Ethiopia started allowing direct export licenses in 2017. This allows Seattle Coffee Works to get fresh crop Ethiopian coffee to the US months ahead of other coffee importers and roasters.
It is exciting to see the success of Dumerso, and especially inspiring to see a woman spearheading this incredibly challenging effort. In an industry that has far too few women leaders, Beti is a real-life role model!
FINCA VILLA LAURA VEREDA EL UVITAL, FREDONIA ANTIOQUIA, COLOMBIA
We are proud to be the first direct-trade partners of this incredible farm. Orlando Gaviria bought the first portion of Finca Villa Laura in 1993 with only a small section dedicated to coffee cultivation. Over the years, Orlando and his wife Maria expanded their coffee production until it became their primary crop.
During his life, Orlando made strides in creating equity and opportunity in his community. He invested heavily into improving the housing on his property for his coffee pickers and established a nonprofit called Cerro Bravo, which united local coffee producers to share knowledge and expertise, thus strengthening the region’s coffee production and quality as a whole.
Today, the farm is run by Orlando’s youngest son Mauricio. Previously a business manager in Medellin, Mauricio decided to take over full-time care of the family farm after his father’s passing. Since assuming this role, Mauricio has focused on maintaining unmatched coffee quality while maximizing efficiency on the farm. He’s established an innovative and water-efficient processing system as well as built a mechanical transportation system for the beans, thus alleviating stress on the pickers. We are excited to continue working with this farm and to enjoy the phenomenal coffees they bring to us from the beautiful Andes mountains of Colombia.
FINCA LA ESPERANZA, HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA
Emilia Barahona started in the coffee business in 2002 with her husband Edwin, securing a loan when they were just 23 years old. Through their hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity, they have paid off their loan, even in the face of devastating coffee leaf rust disease. Emilia has since diversified the varieties of coffee planted on the farm to try to increase the coffee plants’ resistance to disease and pests.
As a result of their success, Emilia and Edwin, with their extended family, formed the Cafesa Association to support producers in the area with training in the management of their farms and specialty coffee processing. The land for the Cafesa has a warehouse and a coffee cupping lab where they provide services to other coffee producers in the area, as well as advising them on how to improve their processes and connect to coffee buyers.
The addition of a cupping lab provides for a more standardized and regular evaluation of the crops of coffee produced by the members of the Cafesa Association and allows for more negotiating power with potential buyers. Finca Emilia has also employed a unique solar powered drying system for their coffee that helps with quality and uniformity.
Emilia is also very proud of the fact that the farm has achieved Certified Organic and Certified Fair Trade status. All of these advancements are reasons why we at Seattle Coffee Works are happy to partner with Emilia as she continues to innovate and improve the coffee at Finca Emilia and in the La Paz region of Honduras.
FINCA DIVISADERO, APANECA-ATACO, AHUACHAPAN, EL SALVADOR
El Salvador Divisadero, under the leadership of Mauricio Salaverría, has broken ground in El Salvadorian specialty coffee cultivation. Salaverría comes from a long line of coffee producers and spent his youth on coffee farms. Salaverría has applied this lifelong expertise to cultivate some of the highest quality coffee in El Salvador.
Five small farms make up the Divisadero estate, each with a different microclimate carefully preserved by Salaverría to support the growth of fragile coffee varieties such as Bourbons, Pacas, Pacamaras, Maracaturras, and Geishas. Coffees on this farm are hand-picked at optimal ripeness, a laborious process that ensures the highest quality of each cherry. The farm also draws upon the natural cycles of the region to process their coffee, washing with recycled rainwater and drying with the excess wind found at the processing mill.
Not only is this farm environmentally conscious, but their coffees have gained renown in Australia, France, Italy, Canada, and the US and have competed in the El Salvador Cup of Excellence three years in a row, winning 5th, 6th, and 7th place. Salaverría and the Divisadero Estate have pioneered the use of the honey-processing method in Central America, which is still a rare process in this part of the world, but one that yields an unmatched cup. We love this farm and their commitment to innovation and sustainability, and we’re excited to continue to watch them excel.
OROMIA, JIMMA, LIMMU, ETHIOPIA
Anteneh started as a trader from Limmu. Ten years ago, he obtained land to farm coffee and Wabe Sombo Farm was born. In Ethiopia, many of the forests are converted into coffee farms and the tall trees are kept. From a distance one can only see a large forest with very old and beautiful trees, which protects all of the 86 acres of the Wabe Sombo coffee trees.
The journey to this farm is not for the faint of heart. It starts with an eight-hour trip from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa to Jimma; another three hours to the city of Limmu; a mostly dirt road to the town of Wabe Sombo and a ten minute motorcycle ride to Anteneh's.
Anteneh employs 100 workers, who are mostly from nearby villages, in the first month of the harvest and increases to 200-300 people from the second month until the end of the harvest.
The improved Heirloom variety seed Anteneh germinates and plants combined with farm location at a high-altitude results in a very complex coffee. Coffee beans go through the natural process and is dried on raised beds, never leaving the farm until it is ready to be shipped.
2020-21 is our third year working with Anteneh and his family. We started in 2018-19 with a small relationship (through a friend). And then, we were able to visit Anteneh every year since.
FINCA ROSMA, SAN PEDRO NECTA, HUEHUETENANGO
Finca Rosma is one of the most scenic coffee farms we’ve had the pleasure to lay our eyes on. Perched on a precipice in a remote corner of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, we send our new baristas to this farm annually to teach them about coffee farming. Fredy Morales, a motivated and talented young coffee farmer, took over this plot of barely arable land in 2000 and resolved to make it into a coffee farm. Fredy used his expertise as a civil engineer to build a road connecting it to nearby settlements, and designed a water piping system that carries water to the processing mill from over five kilometers away.
Finca Rosma has ranked multiple times in the top 10 of Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence. This recognition rarely comes to such young or small farms, but the dedication of Fredy and his manager Pascual Jimenes-Sales has brought their coffee into the forefront of Guatemalan production in a short time. The farm rigorously tests every lot to hone their methods of growing, pulping, fermenting, and drying the coffee and their work has resulted in coffees of extraordinary quality that shine in any brew method.
To make sure the individuals that produce this amazing coffee are as cared for as possible, we help them make improvements to farm worker’s housing as well as provide funding to ensure each child on the farm has access to one annual medical visit. We’ve been direct trade partners of Finca Rosma since 2014, and we are excited to continue working with them for years to come.
Heleodoro de Jesus Villatoro Lopez founded Finca La Esperanza, nestled above a small village in northeast Guatemala in 1956. In order to earn money to purchase the farm, Heleodoro worked for several years buying and transporting coffee. When the farm was founded, the nearest wet mill was 12-14 hours away and was only accessible by mule. When developing his farm, Heleodoro made it a priority to build a wet mill on site as well as create a dirt road to the mill, connecting over 2,000 people in the community to the nearest paved road.
He and his wife Helena had soon created the village of Hoja Blanca, where their family continues to cultivate and harvest the delicious coffees of Finca La Esperanza, featuring several varieties and processing methods. This farm is now managed by their son, Aurelio Villatoro. This farm has an extraordinarily inclusive and innovative culture: each of Heleodoro and Helena’s twelve children brings their own specialized skill to the farm, from agronomy to forest ecology to auto mechanics. Pickers are actively engaged in improving farm practices and the lives of their own families. Many of them have their own small farms, so knowledge and resources are shared.
The cherries on this farm are harvested by hand and stored in the shade to prevent degradation. They are put through a depulping machine no more than six hours after being picked, and the de-pulped beans are fermented for 24 to 36 hours and then washed and sun-dried on patios that also serve as the roofs of the family’s homes. We love working with this farm, and they even welcome members of our barista team for a visit each year.
FERNANDO DE JESUS ECHAVARRIA
HACIENDA SANTA ISABEL, VEREDA EL CALVARIO, FREDONIA ANTIOQUIA
Fernando De Jesus Echavarria, along with five other relatives, own this beautiful family farm. Don Fernando obtained the finca more that 35 years ago and, together with farm administrator Alexander Giraldo, has made the farm a producer of socially conscious and environmentally friendly high-quality coffee.
The hacienda is located in the Vereda el Calvario, only 15 minutes from the Municipality of Fredonia andan hour and a half from Medellin. The farm sits among the vibrantly green
Andes mountains, where the smell of washed coffee is characteristic to the region. The farm has its own wet mill as well as a bodega for the storage of export-ready coffee. 2017 is our first season importing coffee from Don Fernando and Finca Santa Isabel, and we are excited to welcome this wonderful coffee to our shelves.
RUKIRA COOP, OTHAYA COOPERATIVE SOCIETY, KENYA
We visited both the Rukira washing station (“factory”) and the Othaya Society’s Dry Mill and Cupping lab, hosted throughout by Newton Ndiritu one of the brightest coffee personalities in Kenya. Newton is both the factory chairman at the Rukira factory with approximately 560 members and the chairman of the entire Othaya Society (which comprises about 15,000 farmer members across several other factories).
Newton has raised the bar for his fellow member farmers at Rukira in a few ways. By using best-practice pruning methods and appropriate amounts of fertilizers he’s been able to increase the yield from around 5 kg per tree to around 23 kg per tree, thereby showing a way to make farming coffee sustainable in the long-term. He’s smoothed the path for construction of the Othaya society’s own dry mill, which has helped control the quality all the way to our roastery. The dry mill also includes a state-of-the-art cupping lab, the best cupping lab our coffee buying team has seen at any society or factory. By controlling the process and continuously cupping the coffee, Rukira (and some other factories at Othaya) consistently turn out some of Kenya’s best coffees. The Rukira AA has won awards in the Taste of Harvest competition, and we think you’ll enjoy it tremendously!