Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffea arabica, is home to a stunning and diverse array of regions and cup profiles. Perhaps the most celebrated of all is Yirgacheffe, a coffee that at its finest possesses an intoxicating floral aroma and nectar-like sweetness. The coffees of Yirgacheffe are grown in small plots adjacent to the family home often referred to as ‘coffee gardens’, an indication of their small size. An impressive variety of indigenous heirloom cultivars grow side by side food crops, all organic.
During harvest the ripe cherries are delivered by foot or mule to one of the many locally operated washing stations. Many of these mills are privately owned and as a result the coffee must pass through the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange prior to export, which obscures the provenance of the coffee. However, the 23 cooperatives within the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union (YCFCU) are able to export direct, with a premium from the sale reinvested in the community.
The Bele Kara Cooperative joined YCFCU in 2002 and currently has 685 members. In our evaluation of the Yirgacheffe crop this year, the Bele Kara proved to exhibit the characteristics we prize most from the region.