Thanks to the new coffee regulations in Ethiopia, smallholder producers can now directly export their own coffee.
Previously, all private washing stations, except cooperatives, were mandated to sell their coffee to the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Often, this caused a loss of traceability and price transparency. Now farmers are able to sell their coffee directly to importers and other buyers. With the regulations that have been steadily evolving over the past year and a half, smallholder farmers are able to export their coffee directly to buyers around the world. They can register with the Coffee and Tea Authority and be issued an SHF (Small Holder Farmer) number, which enables export-level traceability through the milling and export process. Even if a farmer consolidates this coffee in a container with other lots, this SHF number is present on all contracts and documents in order to ensure that they receive the full FOB price paid by their buyer.
These new laws are giving us a unique opportunity to increase our traceability all while supporting great coffee farming. We’ve partnered with farmers in Bashasha, a small town in the Agaro Zone of Western Ethiopia, to bring you a selection of mostly naturals with some washed coffees.
Agaro may be best known for producing some of the most well-known cooperative coffees of the past decade via the Duromina, Biftu Gudina, Yukro, and Hunda Oli cooperatives, but we’re excited to be partnering with these individual farmers to let you discover new and exciting flavors. The Bashasha coffees have demonstrated the delicate florals and crystal-clear acidity that Agaro (and now Bashasha) are best known for.
Great Coffee for a Great Cause
Not only are we excited to be offering Musa Aba Lulesa’s fantastic coffee, but we’re also thrilled to announce that a portion of the profit from this coffee’s sales will go to help increase education and lifelong health for girls in Ethiopia through out partnership with the Girls Gotta Run Foundation.
GGRF offers girls and their families an alternative to early marriage by providing athletic scholarships paired with a holistic, life-scale approach for vulnerable girls ages 11 to 18. Each scholarship helps a girl attend secondary school for a year. It also provides healthcare for her and her mother as well as meals, school books, tutoring and access to sanitary facilities. The program helps girls acquire important life skills such as family planning, financial literacy, nutrition, healthy relationships and more.
Inspired Coffee Growing
Musa Abalulessa started with just 6 hectares, granted to him by his father, who also farms coffee. When Musa’s coffee was recognized by an international buyer, he was able to travel to Uganda to participate in the African Fine Coffees Association. Motivated by the experience, Musa now owns 40 hectares of coffee-growing land in Agaro.
Accessing an international market
While Musa’s coffee was sold through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) he made less money. In an effort to empower himself and his family, he found that running as much of the business as possible himself was the best way to get the most income.
Musa’s goals are still to produce the best coffees in the world as well as to maintain and add additional washing stations and drying beds to ensure the quality of his coffee.
Picking and Processing
Musa’s cherries are handpicked before being pulped in a classic pulper and wet-fermented for 10-12 hours. Beans are then dried on drying beds and stored on the farm until ready to be exported.
The 7 producers whose coffee we bought as individual microlots then formed a group and chose a representative as well as an exporter to provide the commercial and logistics services for them. As a trusted member of the community, Musa was chosen as the representative of this group, channelling communication and making sure all the coffee was in the same place when the truck came. The FOB price paid to Musa for his washed coffee was $2.70/lb and $2.80/lb for the natural. In total, we purchased 183 bags from Musa this year.