The Kundi Gagi cooperative is located in the Gore Woreda of southwestern Ethiopia. This 410 member cooperative harvest heirloom varietals at elevations ranging from 1700-2200 meters in clay-loam soils consisting of recent volcanic deposits. Coffee is grown under native shade, utilizing organic and sustainable farming practices at every stage of the process. In fact, much of the coffee is essentially growing wild, what is considered ‘forest coffee’.
Caffe Vita’s decision to pursue a relationship with this cooperative was made out of our commitment to procuring traceable coffees, where we can ensure payment down to the farm level. In recent times, the government’s decision for coffee to be traded through the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange has limited direct purchases to large private estates and cooperatives.
Thankfully, the last few years has seen steady growth in the number of cooperatives, mainly due to the work of TechnoServe, a nonprofit that aims to lift farmers out of poverty by improving their capacity to do business. With a new wet mill completed in 2010 and greater access to the market place through the Oromia Union, members of Kundi Gagi received record prices this past season.
The new wet mill features a Penagos 1500 pulper, which conserves water by mechanically removing the mucilage from the parchment. After pulping, the coffee is soaked overnight, followed by an initial drying under shade and then approximately ten days in the sunshine on raised tables covered with hessian cloth. The resulting coffee is sweet, clean, and complex and represents a pure expression of these heirloom Ethiopian varietals.