Category Archives: ethiopia

Andy, Ethiopia, and Traceability…Part Four…

| December 17, 2010

Update: This series is comprised of correspondence Caffé Vita’s lead trainer, Andy Kent, is sending back from the field. Andy is in Ethiopia for us working on a project to learn about how coffee gets from the farm to your cup, provide better transparency for this process, and ultimately make sure the final price paid for the coffee is distributed fairly down along the supply chain all the way to the farmer. This is the fourth installment from Andy’s trip…please enjoy (make sure to click “Read More”) and stay tuned for more in the coming weeks…

Spending time on the farm “is” all that its cracked up to be. Watching, learning, and working with coffee farmers is a inspiring way to better understand the importance these men and woman play in our industry.

Just as important, is the way we communicate and build relationships with farmers around the globe. By fostering communication and building relationships, we not only educate ourselves (consumers) of the trials and tribulations of everyday living as a farmer; but we also have the opportunity to help grow better coffee, source better coffee, and create strong bonds between grower and roaster. These strong bonds – these direct relationships – help create transparency through an industry that is forever changing. More importantly (as a consumer), these strong bonds and direct relationships help create high quality coffee by paying the farmer more for their exceptional product. At Caffe Vita, for example, we have built strong Farm Direct relationships with farmers and coops in Sumatra, Guatemala, Brazil, Panama, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. Through these Farm Direct relationships we’re not only be able to source exceptional coffees, but we also have an opportunity to break bread, share stories, and bring farmers to our community in Seattle.


Now that Caffé Vita is back in Ethiopia to help support a new traceability program, we are fortunate enough to be able to start building new relationships with co-ops and farmers in Sidama. Creating new bonds and new stories over shared coffee and the shared sweat of loading bags into trucks.

These bonds and direct relationships need to be forever growing and continuing so our industry can can maintain its positive forward momentum…

Andy, Ethiopia, and Traceability…Part Three…

| December 15, 2010

My friend, his team, and I have now traveled south. We are in a beautiful city called Hawassa which is just south of Sashamene in the Sidama region of Ethiopia. The drive from Addis Ababa south was quite the adventure. If you have not gone on a long drive in a thrid world country yet, let me be the first to tell you it’s a freaking blast! Leaving Addis by road is like stepping into a blender of exhaust, stock animals, daredevil drivers, dogs, pot holes, bikes, three-wheel scooters, motorcycles, semi trucks, horses and buggys, and people streaking across the road (occasionally without clothing). Now turn that blender on high and hold on…

I believe the team and I almost lost our lives 3 separate times, and then there’s the drivers. If our drivers had cat lives, they would be well into the negatives with the stunts they pull. But, don’t let my joke deter you, everyone should try a long drive in a third world country. It might just put hair on your chest or at least a lot of exhaust in your lungs. 


I believe a big thing we should all realize is taking daily risks like driving through the blender above is a part of everyday life here in Ethiopia. Picture our green coffee making a crazy four or five hour – if not longer -  drive through a roller coaster of variables. At any minute the semi truck carrying our container of coffee could go through a number of imaginable scenarios causing our coffee to be delayed or potencially destroyed. Could this scenario also affect cost or payment down the chain? Could it effect coffee quality? Could it affect the environment?  I don’t believe I’ve ever once had this thought until we were face to face with a coffee-weilding container truck playing chicken with us in our lane.

I am not in Ethiopia to discuss shipping green coffee containers or the wild roads of Addis. To be honest, it’s just hard not to throw another light onto how many people and variables that are involved from seed to cup, especially when you find yourself in the thick of it.

It all makes me realize there are many lives touched by coffee or that touch coffee everyday; and I would say that many who do the touching often get ignored. That thought alone is a big reason why Caffé Vita sent me to Hawassa. In more or less words (less since the project is not yet finished), I am here with a team to work on a project that can help give the farmers in Sidama and their co-ops an identity that is more accessible to the people at home. In hopes that the consumer (which includes everyone not growing the coffee) can better trace the supply chain to help us understand the roller coast of events that takes place from the ground to your lips. Tracing the supply chain can also help to better educate (again) the consumers by continually increasing the amount of sustainable buying practices and giving credit to the ones that are already on board. In a nutshell, traceability creates transparency in the supply chain and in return can create a higher selling price for the farmers who grow, harvest and process exceptional coffees by giving us all better access to who these people are.

So, now that I am off of my small soap box, it is time to head to the farms. I will be visiting two or three co-ops today, so the team and I can start laying down the ground work for the project.  I promise one thing, the first coffee tree I find will mostly likely get my arms rapped around it…

Stay tuned for more posts from Andy in Ethiopia…

Andy, Ethiopia, and Traceability…Part Two…

| December 13, 2010
Watching her roast the coffee right in the living room was immediately thrilling, but as soon as the green beans started to near the second crack and then make the journey late into it, my taste buds started screaming… I now understand why there is loads of sugar in many of the coffee shops of Addis.

Morning before the journey south: I awoke this morning to the sun just peaking over the hills of Addis, the prayers from the Orthadox Church next door echoing in the air, and the smoke of frankincense with another smell that was vaguely familiar wafting up through the corners of my door. In the days of no smoking in Seattle, one gets very confused when a wonderful smelling smoke is filling your room first thing in the morning. I followed the smoke down the stairs to our small living area and as soon I leaned into the room I quickly had to side step Marta, who was preparing a traditional coffee ceremony. I have heard of the traditional coffee ceremony in the states and now have seen it many times here in Addis, but at 6 a.m. in the morning!? You can imagine it put a huge smile on my face.

Stay tuned for more from Andy, from Ethiopia…

Vita’s roasting some new beans

| July 1, 2010
Ethiopia YirgacheffeWe are pleased to offer this exceptional organic coffee, from the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, located in Gedeo. This coffee is grown at an average elevation of 2,300 meters, and exhibits all of the characteristics we love about Yirgacheffe coffees. Aromas of rose petal and tangerine. Moderate acidity, medium to light body, with a lingering honey plum like sweetness.

…and

Guatemala Mundo NovoA new organic arrival from our farm direct partners at Finca Nuevo Vinas, Mundo Novo is a naturally occuring hybrid between Typica and Bourbon. This varietal matures slower than most, yeilding a dense, complex cup. Aromas of meyer lemon, brown sugar, cocoa, and fava. Crisp acidity and spice, medium body, with a long finish of molasses and sweet cream butter.

Available exclusively at any of our six retail locations . . . capitol hill, queen anne, fremont, seward park, pioneer square, and olympia.