Werka

Peaches. Lime. Almonds.

Washing Station: Werka
Region: Nensebo, Oromia
Country: Ethiopia
Processing: Fully Washed
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,050 masl
Varietals: Heirloom
Sourced By: Cafe Imports

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Information on this coffee from Cafe Imports:

"This coffee is from the Werka Coffee Washing Station in theworedaor village of Nensebo, in the town of Werka. The washing station is used by between 700 and 800 farmers, each of whom grows coffee on an average of 3 hectares of land. The typical farm here is also planted with false banana and corn plants, and Acacia trees for shade. The farms range in altitude from 1900–2050 meters, with average daily temperatures up to about 25°C, with cool evenings of about 16°C.

The washing station produces both washed and natural coffees: The washed lots are fermented underwater for 48 hours before the mucilage is removed; the coffee is dried on raised beds in a windy area, to speed the drying process. The washing water is purified and recycled for other uses.

About coffee trade in Ethiopia:

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) was established by the Ethiopian government in 2008 with the intention of democratizing marketplace access to farmers growing beans, corn, coffee, and wheat, among other commodities. As farmers in Ethiopia typically own very small plots of land and are largely sustenance farmers—growing what crops they need for household use and selling the surplus for cash—it was decided that standardization would be the most egalitarian way to improve economic health and stability in the agricultural sector.

The ECX strove to eliminate the barriers to sale by giving farmers an open, public, and reliable market to which to sell their products for a set and relatively stable price. At its inception, the ECX rules dictated that any coffee not produced by a private estate or a co-operative society was required to be sold through the Exchange, which established guaranteed price and sale for farmers, but by design, it took the “specialty” out of the coffee and turned it into a commodity—escaping all traceability aside from the most basic regional and grade information.

After pushback from the specialty-coffee industry and several rounds of intense negotiation, a later iteration established that washing-station information was made available after the coffees were purchased, though certainly tracing them down to the individual producers would prove impossible.

In March 2017, the ECX voted to allow direct sales of coffee from individual washing stations, which will not only allow for increased traceability, but will also allow for repeat purchases and relationship building all along the chain—a change that increases the potential for higher prices to the farmers. It remains to be seen what the impact of greater traceability and more direct sales will have on specialty coffees from Ethiopia, but the industry appears optimistic.
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