Ethiopia March 2017: Halo and Alaka washing stations
Once again we have been back in Ethiopia, and this time we have sourced some new and exciting coffees to share with you.
I, Lukas Kragelund, was fortunate enough to join Casper on a journey to the motherland of Arabica coffee. This was my first time in Ethiopia, while Casper has been here seven years in a row.
Our purpose of this trip was divided in two; to find new coffees and to bring farmers together.
We have for the past 3 years been working closely with Akmel Nuri, who you can read about in this blog post: Ethiopia 2015
Akmel owns and runs an organic coffee farm in Limu Kossa, and here he produces some of the most clean and sweet natural coffees we have ever tried. We have been serving Akmel’s coffee in our coffee shops for two years now and have been very happy with this co-operation.
Although we have been very happy with Akmel’s coffee at the same time we have also wanted to find another coffee from the same origin to showcase the diversity in Ethiopian coffees.
Where Akmel’s coffee is a combination of body and sweetness, we were on the lookout to find something that was lighter, elegant and more aromatic. These kind of coffees we have previously found in the Yirgacheffe region. Our other ambition was to find farmers we could establish and build a direct relationship with.
At The Coffee Collective we have always believed very strongly in the idea of sharing knowledge to learn and grow together. This is something we work with in all aspects of our business from the way we source coffee, the way we roast, to sharing recipes for guests and colleagues.
Therefore, our second goal for this trip was to travel with Akmel Nuri allowing him to meet, learn and share experiences with other coffee farmers in a different region.
Our Ethiopian trip started in Addis Abba at the Metad headquarters cupping room where Aman Adinew had set up a cupping of 8 different coffees for us to try. Four of them were washed processed and four natural processed. For me, the four washed coffees were some of the brightest and sweetest coffees that I have ever tasted. Some of the naturals were equally impressive in their cleanliness, but had more tropical fruits in the aromas. Despite the exceptionally high quality on the table we still managed to spot some favorites in Alaka washing station from the Guji region, and the Halo washing station from Yirgacheffe.
After the impressive cupping on our minds and full of excitement we went to meet up with Akmel. He took us on a 14-hour journey in his classic pick-up truck from Addis Abba to the Hambela coffee factory in Guji, which is in the southern part of Ethiopia. The first 3 hours we drove on asphalt roads, but the next 11 hours were spent on the bumpiest and dustiest roads imaginable. Despite the uncomfortable roads we had the most incredible views of the picture perfect mountains and small clay hut villages. Of the coffee trips I have been on, this is by far the most rural and wild I have had.
The next morning the manager at Hambela, Mr Dellnesaw, took us on a tour to show us the facility. Hambela factory is situated at 2200 masl, and is a very organized and beautiful mill. Where Akmel’s farm is small-scale the Hambela factory is much bigger and served as a good inspiration for him, seeing organized systems for picking, storage, and processing.
In Ethiopia it is forbidden by law to start dry milling naturals before all washed coffees has been dry milled. So here, in this Guji warehouse, all the natural coffees are waiting to be processed.
After our tour of the facility and many interesting discussions we went to their very well kept and arranged coffee nursery. Amongst the nursery they also planted other species of plants to make sure the coffees will grow in a natural environment. They use different plants like Spania for nitrogen fixing, shade and to provide nutrition. Potaria is also used to provide nutrition but does not fix the soil with nitrogen. It will ensure shade for when the coffee plant grows bigger.
Continuing our journey the next day, we continued on to the Halo washing station close to Gedeb in Yirgacheffe. This is where the standout Chelchele is processed. When we visited they had already processed the coffees from this year’s harvest. That didn’t stop us from taking a look around the wet mill and imagining the work that goes into creating such an incredible cup. All the machinery was packed down and cleaned thoroughly ready for the next year’s production.
The new Halo coffee is now on shelves in all three coffee bars and are also available through our webshop. Alaka will be released later this year.