Gera Washed

  • Country
    Ethiopia
  • Historical Coffee Region
    Limu
  • Political Region
    Oromia
  • Political Zone
    Jimma
  • Woreda
    Gera
  • Kebele
    Gera
  • Washing Station
    Gera
  • Elevation
    1,860-1,990m above sea level
  • Variety
    Landrace and JARC varieties
  • Processing
    Washed
  • Contributing Farmers
    350 independent producers
  • Washing Station Owner
    Tracon Trading

Intensely floral, with melon, orange blossom and jasmine aroma. Blueberry and tangelo in the cup, with a rich mouthfeel.

This washed lot is made up of coffees grown and processed in the ‘kebele’ (town or village) of Gera, in the ‘woreda’ (administrative district) of Gera, in Ethiopia’s Jimma Zone. The coffee was processed at Gera Washing Station, which produces both washed and natural lots under the watchful eye of operations manager, Tkelu Gebrie. The washing station is part of a 500 hectare coffee farm owned by Tracon Trading, a family-run exporting company that manages quality control and operations at the estate and prepares the resulting parchment for export at an impressive dry milling facility in Addis Ababa.

This lot is made up of coffee grown at Gera Estate, along with freshly picked cherry from some 350 local coffee growers. The majority of the families who contributed to this lot farm organically on tiny plots of land, which average just 2.4 hectares in size. Coffee is their main cash crop and grows alongside food crops of corn, grain and bananas, under the shade of native Birbira, Wanza, and Acacia trees. The average elevation of the farms in this region is quite high – around 1,800–2,000m above sea level – and this, combined region’s cool temperatures, is ideal for the slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile.

ABOUT TRACON TRADING

Established in 2008, Tracon Trading PLC is a leading exporting company involved in a number of industries in Ethiopia, including construction, real estate, freight and coffee. The family-owned company own a number of coffee farms and washing stations in Ethiopia’s producing regions, along with a state-of-the-art dry mill and storage facility in Addis Ababa, where quality control is overseen by Adbuhay Hassen.  Here, up to 6 tonnes of coffee are dry milled per hour, with conveyor belt assited hand-sorting and Buhler Z+ colour sorters used to further improve the quality of the coffee processed.

Tracon is committed to improving conditions for the communities surrounding their farms and washing stations. Not only are all employees paid above market rates, but farmers can access advance payments for their contributed cherry, as well as educational and training materials. The company has also constructed gravel roads to their washing stations, improving accessibility for contributing farmers and workers alike.

ABOUT THE JIMMA ZONE

Jimma is located in the southwest of the political region of Oromia, and is named after the former Kingdom of Jimma. Jimma is a densely-forested region with a relatively cool tropical climate. Coffee forests abound, and the zone is responsible for around 10% of the country’s coffee production.  Historically, coffees from this zone have been classified as Limu (itself not a political zone), a coffee region that spans the Jimma and Ilubador political zones. Jimma plays a pivotal role in Ethiopia’s coffee industry, as it is home of the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC). Since the 1960s, the JARC has been developing more resistant and high-yielding coffee varieties and distributing them among Ethiopian farmers.

Jimma is bordered by the Sidama region to the south, as well as the South West Ethiopia People’s Region – the home of the ancient Kingdom of Kaffa, whose forests are said to be the birthplace of Arabica coffee. It includes well-known coffee-growing woredas such as Agaro and Gera, although the latter is also highly regarded for its honey production.

VARIETY

This lot is predominantly made up of JARC varieties selected by Tracon’s agronomists to suit Gera Estate’s terroir. Along with these, this lot includes a number of native or “landrace” varieties that grow at the estate.

For many years, most Ethiopian coffees have been described as being a mix of cultivated and wild varieties, referred to as “heirloom varieties.” This is a term that is all-encompassing and used by many actors in the coffee industry to generally categorise Ethiopian coffee varieties that are from native forest origins. Whilst this describes many of the varieties found in Ethiopia, it is also a bit simplistic and does not acknowledge the varieties that are already locally recognised and cultivated, or those that have been specifically developed and widely distributed by the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre (JARC).

JARC varieties were developed using “mother trees” from Ethiopia’s coffee forests, and are now grown for disease and pest resistance, as well as exceptional cup profile, and are released by number. For example, varieties 74110, 74112 and 74165, are widely propagated throughout the Gera Estate. Jimma is also home to many landrace varieties that were originally selected from the forest, and have been propagated successfully for decades. There is little documentation on the history of these varieties, and it is hard to know if they represent a single plant or a wider group of varieties; however, it is widely accepted that they play a major role in the quality and floral flavour profile of the coffee from this region.

PROCESSING

This coffee has been processed using the washed method. It is classified as Grade 1, the highest quality classification for Ethiopian coffees, indicating a great deal of effort has been put into the selection and grading during processing.

Each day, carefully picked coffee cherries are delivered to the Gera washing station and are meticulously sorted by hand and in a floatation tank prior to processing to remove unripe, overripe, or damaged fruit, in order to enhance the quality and sweetness of the cup.

After sorting, the coffee cherries are pulped to remove the fruit and skin and graded by weight; heavier beans are of superior quality and deliver a sweeter cup. Once graded, the parchment-covered coffee is soaked in tanks of clean water for 36–48 hours to remove the mucilage (sticky fruit pulp) by allowing it to ferment and detach from the coffee.

The coffee is then re-washed and graded again by density in washing channels and soaked in clean water for 12 hours.

 

The coffee is then dried for 10–12 days on raised African drying beds, firstly under cover (for around 3–5 hours) and then subsequently in the sun. Whilst drying, the coffee is carefully hand-sorted, and any defects are removed. It is also turned regularly to ensure that it dries evenly and consistently. At midday, the coffee is covered to protect it from full sun. It is also covered overnight to prevent damage from morning dew.

Once the coffee reaches its optimum moisture level, it is hulled at Tracon Trading’s facility in Addis Ababa, and rested in bags in parchment until it is ready for export.

HOW THIS COFFEE WAS SOURCED

Since 2018, regulation changes within the Ethiopian coffee industry have allowed smallholder producers and coffee washing stations to export coffee directly to the international market, rather than through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). While the ECX has provided stability and opportunity for many Ethiopian coffee farmers, it does not service the specialty market well, as there is an inherent lack of transparency and traceability in its auction model, and more points for potential corruption or confusion between the producing communities and the final buyer.

The recent changes enable a more streamlined coffee supply chain and provide an opportunity for the increased traceability and transparency of coffee trade in Ethiopia. Beyond this, producers who market and trade their coffee directly can access higher prices and more direct payments for their coffees. All of the coffee we purchase in Ethiopia is bought outside of the ECX system.

This coffee was sourced through our on-the-ground Ethiopian supply partner, Sucafina Ethiopia, who help connect us to single estates, privately owned washing stations and quality-focused exporters in different regions of Ethiopia. Based in Addis Ababa, Sucafina Ethiopia work as a service provider connecting local farmers and exporters (colloquially known as ‘shippers’) with international buyers like MCM. By Ethiopian law, they (and other foreign-owned entities) are not permitted to buy cherries directly, or to own washing stations or mills; however, their expertise is invaluable in coordinating multiple shippers, ensuring quality standards are met and handling all logistics in the preparation and local transport of our coffees. Through our shared commitment to responsible sourcing practices, quality and traceability, we have been connected to likeminded shippers, like Tracon, who work to produce delicious and consistent coffees while running social programs that directly and meaningfully support coffee farmers and their families.