De Mello Palheta
Honey Ginger, Rose, Pineapple
1950 – 2050 masl
West Arsi, Oromia
FROM THE ROASTER
This delicious washed coffee from the Nansebo Woreda (district) is our third addition on our menu from Catalyst Trade, our importer partner. Since the easing of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX) rules in 2016, Catalyst sought to participate in a more direct structure with coffee producers and washing stations, trying to move away from brokers who would traditionally establish themselves as middle persons. Catalyst worked early on with Robe Negele Wet Process station located in Nansebo.
In Woreda, there are a few small-scale industries and some retail businesses and service providers. Roads are difficult, and while the area is blessed with beautiful rivers, only 5% of the population has access to clean drinking water. However, the Oromia region, specifically West Arsi, is now a well-renowned coffee-growing region with stellar quality attracting international buyers. The surrounding land is mountainous and hilly, carpeted by forests. Therefore, the Robe Negele washing station in Nansebo is earning a reputation for producing award-winning coffees and continually striving to improve the quality of the process. It works with some 480 smallholder farmers throughout the harvest season near the site. For these people owning 2ha to 10ha farms, coffee is a major crop income shared with wheat and false banana. The smallholders carefully pick their cherries and bring them to the station for processing, where they are not distinguished as individual lots due to their respective low yields. They are paid per kg of cherries delivered (31 birr/kg or CAD$ 0.75, for context renting a house, costs 5-8 birr/month).
The cherries are assessed for overall quality, weighed, logged into the record books and purchased by the washing station agent. Once sorting has been done (primarily by local women hired for the season), the cherries are off to the pulper for removal of skins and pulp. Then washed and fermented in Robe Negele’s 12 washing tanks are submerged in clean water and allowed to ferment naturally to remove the mucilage left. This process takes 48 to 72 hours. Next, the parchment is taken to mesh screens where excess water can drain for 10 to 15 hours. Then the coffee is moved to link drying tables; Robe Negele operates more than 380 of these. The coffee cherries are carefully turned and handpicked throughout the drying cycle, which takes about 8 to 10 days. This meticulous and carefully handled process, paired with fantastic coffee quality, results in a clean, delicate and floral washed coffee.