Orders are shipped every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Blends are roasted on Mondays and Fridays each week whilst single origins are roasted only on Wednesdays at this stage (due to batch size requirements).
Taking its name from Gabana Mountain, a peak standing proud on the horizon throughout the Oromia region in west Ethiopia, Ethio Gabana pays tribute to a powerful sense of place. These lands are the birthplace of coffee. Their natural elements foster fundamental gifts, both environmental conditions and gifts of culture: a living tradition so rich and tenacious, the celebration of which is a celebration of life itself. It’s the passion of these families embodying this tradition that Ethio Gabana bring to celebrate with the world.
Providing ongoing training, certifications and thereby increasing their premiums, Ethio Gabana partners with farming families local to their washing stations that share an upmost commitment to producing their land’s highest quality coffees. Chelchele Wet Mill Station in Gedebe District of Gedeo Zone, brings together 488 small farm holders from Chelchele and Kore villages in SNNPR.
Sourcing only from a selection of coveted varieties endemic to the area, coffee trees of Dega, Kurume and Welisho are commonly intercropped beneath mango, avocado and false banana. Innovation on the shoulders of generations of coffee farming, best practices are second nature in all areas, including organic composting and water conservation.
During harvest, multiple passes are necessary to ensure cherries are only picked when perfectly ripe. For their natural processed lots, cherries delivered to the washing station are soaked to remove any floaters. From the tanks, they are transferred to raised drying beds and further graded for visible defects by hand. A natural processed lot can spend up to 3 weeks spread across the beds, being carefully turned, protected from the night’s humidity and shaded from the hottest period of each day. The patience and hard work of these families is a labour of love. Their dedication to delivering cups with exhilarating aromas and flavours of immense complexity is a legacy to be revered and indeed celebrated together.
About Ethio Gabana
Ethio Gabana is a specialty coffee company founded in Ethiopia by Ethiopians. Their dream is to share the taste and tradition of Ethiopian coffee with the world while sharing the value with the people who grow it.
Established in 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethio Gabana takes its name from a mountain in the western coffee region of Ethiopia. They source specialty coffee from the finest growing regions in Ethiopia, with six washing stations in West Guji and Gedeo in the southern coffee heartlands and a plantation, Anderacha, in the southwest. They partner with the very best suppliers and farmers in each region to produce top-grade quality coffee in some of the country’s most sought-after varietals. Each of their sites is located in a different zone and produces its own unique coffee.
In Ethiopia, the roasting, grinding and drinking of coffee form part of a ceremony, in which people gather together to experience the spectrum of sights, sounds and aromas that accompany the preparation of a perfect cup, before enjoying the results in company. Ask any Ethiopian and they will tell you this is how coffee should be drunk. Respect the coffee, celebrate its journey from bean to brew and share the experience with people you love.
"For us, it’s not just about the diverse and exhilarating flavour profiles that Ethiopian coffee provides. It’s about the sense of reverence and community that comes with every cup. This is the attitude that we at Ethio Gabana want to share with the world."
Hadeso (pronounced “Had-ess-o”) is a privately-owned washing station that is located in the Shakisso ‘woreda’ (administrative district) in the Guji locality in Ethiopia’s renowned coffee region, Sidamo, in the south-east of the country. It is named after the ‘kebele’ (local village) of Hadeso. The washing station is one of ten owned and managed by Testi Coffee, a family-owned company founded by Mr Faysel A. Yonis. Hadeso produces exceptional washed and natural processed lots.
Coffee is delivered daily to Hadeso by around 850 small local coffee growers. The majority of these families farm organically on tiny plots of land, which average just 2–5 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 very high – around 1,900–2,050m 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.
This coffee lot was produced as part of Testi’s quality improvement initiative, Premium Cherry Selection (PCS). Launched in 2018, the Premium Cherry Selection program ensures that best practices are used for growing, harvesting and processing the coffee cherry. Through the program, Testi pay a premium to farmers who pick and deliver only the ripest cherries from their farms. Coffees produced as part of the program represent the highest quality and cleanest cup profile available from the washing station and wider region.
About Testi Coffee
Testi Coffee was established in 2009 by Mr Faysel A. Yonis as a coffee exporting company. Testi’s objective is to build long term relationships with buyers and growers by producing exceptional coffees and establishing transparent business practices. Today, the company owns ten washing stations – located in Guji, West Arsi, Sidama and Yirgacheffe – which are operated with meticulous attention to sorting, screening and processing, with the goal of achieving the highest coffee quality. The company aims to secure high prices for their coffees, which allows them to pay fair and sustainable prices to the growers who deliver cherries to their washing stations.
Testi’s business model is to buy coffee cherry from local ‘out-growers’ (an Ethiopian term for a smallholder farmer who contributes to a particular washing station) to be processed at their own washing stations, as well as coffee in parchment from partner washing stations. The company is committed to maximising the potential and profitability of Ethiopian coffees and works closely with their producing farmers and washing station partners to improve the quality and yields of the coffee at farm level and in processing.
The company’s philosophy revolves around supporting and growing with the farming communities that produce their coffee. Mr Faysel strongly believes that increased rewards for the out-growers should be shared with, and benefit, the entire community. In pursuit of this goal, Testi has launched a social program called Project Direct, which focuses on directly supporting coffee farmers and their families in tangible and positive ways. Project Direct initiatives are funded by Testi and are designed to motivate and empower farming communities, develop social conditions and improve livelihoods. To date, Project Direct has built a primary school in both Aricha and Guji, where they fund all school supplies and provide financial support and scholarships to top performing students. The project has also helped communities’ access clean water and electricity in the remote areas around their washing stations. Beyond providing increased opportunities, such initiatives contribute to improved safety, healthcare and productivity at the farm level.
About the Guji Region
The Guji zone was established as a unique production area in 2002. It is located in the Southern portion of Sidamo and is named after the Oromo people: a tribe with a long, proud history in coffee production.
Coffees from Guji were previously classified as ‘Sidamo’ (a very wide geographical classification encompassing much of central-south Ethiopia), however more recently they have been separated from this classification and recognised for their unique and distinctive cup profiles. This distinctiveness is driven by the unique combination of elements in this production area, including high altitudes, rich, fertile soil, and exceptional heirloom varieties.
Guji is bordered on the south and west by Borena, on the north by Gedeo and Sidama, and on the east by Bale and the Somali Region. Coffees that are classified as ‘Gujis’, originate from the ‘woreda’ (administrative regions) of Adoola Redi, Uraga, Kercha, Bule Hora, and Shakisso, which is where this lot is from.
Most communities in the region still live rurally and make a living from farming. Coffee remains the major cash crop for most families in the Guji region, who grow coffee alongside food for consumption.
About the Sidamo Zone
Sidamo is a wide geographical classification that encompasses much of central-south Ethiopia and includes renowned coffee producing localities such as Yirgacheffe, Kochere, West Arsi, Bensa and Guji. Sidamo is located in Ethiopia’s South East Coffee Zone, extending across the states of Southern Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), one of nine ethnically based regional states of Ethiopia. The Sidamo zone is named for the Sidama people; a tribe with a long and proud history of coffee production. After a 2019 Referendum, the zone is currently awaiting separation from the SNNPR and transformation into an autonomous Sidamo Region.
Sidamo is a renowned coffee area and produces exceptional natural and washed coffees that showcase an extremely diverse range of flavour profiles. Coffees from Sidamo are noted for their intensely fruit-forward, tea-like, floral and complex character and are sought after worldwide. It is widely accepted that the coffee species, Arabica, originated in the lush forests of southern forests of Ethiopia and hence growing conditions in this area are perfectly suited for producing exquisite coffees.
Coffee has been cultivated in the Sidamo Zone for centuries and is an important source of income for rural households, who grow it as the primary cash crop. Family plots are small and intensively farmed with intercropped coffee, food crops like pulses, grain and yams, and other cash crops like khat (similar to tobacco) and Ethiopian banana. Most farms are planted amongst or alongside indigenous forest trees, which provide a thick canopy of shade for the coffee trees. Historically, farmers in this area will use organic farming practices (although it is unlikely to be certified) as there is no ready access to artificial fertilisers or pesticides.
This coffee is a mix of varieties that we refer to as “heirloom varieties”. This is a term that is all-encompassing and used by many actors in the coffee industry to generally categorize 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 recognise varieties that have been specifically developed and widely distributed by the Jimma Agricultural Research Centre (JARC) or locally recognised and cultivated 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.
JARC varieties are developed for disease and pest resistance, rather than cup profile, and are released by number. For example, 74110, 74112 and 74116 are all widely propagated in the Sidamo growing region. There are also native or “landrace” varieties in the region that were originally selected from the forest and have been propagated in the Sidamo region for decades. There are five popular ones that all have been named after indigenous trees in the area—they are Bedessa, Kudhumi, Mique, Sawe and Walichu. There is little documentation on the history of these varieties, and it is hard to know if they represent single varieties or a wider group of varieties, however, it is widely accepted that they play a major role in the quality of the coffee from this region, with a distinctive floral and citric cup profile.
This coffee has been processed using the washed method, using fresh, clean water. 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 hand-picked coffee cherries are delivered to the Hadeso 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 then pulped to remove the fruit and skin and graded by weight; heavier beans are of superior quality and deliver a sweeter cup. After grading, 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 is dry and has reached its desired humidity, it is rested in parchment until it is ready for milling and export.
Hasambo (Natural) - Tanzania
Mixed berries, granola and brown sugar.
Washing Station: Hasambo Co-op Region: Mbozi District Country: Tanzania Processing: Natural Elevation: 1,600m Varieties: Bourbon & Kent Sourced Through: Upstream Imports
Ripe cherries pour in from the villages of Ilembo, Hasamba, Masangula and Kilimapima, into the Hasambo Agricultural Marketing Cooperative and Society (AMCOS) located in the southern highlands of Tanzania. One of the producers working with this cooperative is Communal Shamba who specialises in working with smallholder producers to deliver sustainable, high-end specialty coffees as a part of their program “Goods for Goodness of our Communities”.
Communal Shamba, meaning ‘Farms’ in the Swahili language, is spearheaded by Kerembe Warioba and Dr Mkunde Chachage. Together, this duo not only supports the farmers of the Mbozi district with better coffee cultivation techniques but they also helped to build the local health clinic. In 2018, Dr Chachage was recognised by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) as the ‘Best Scientist in Tanzania’ and as the ‘Best Research Scientist’ for her efforts in finding permanent solutions for HIV, TB and co-infections.
Just like Communal Shamba, Hasambo AMCOS, too, is actively involved in community building and environmental initiatives. The group protects the regional water bodies by building 2-metre-wide buffer zones along the rivers and springs. Discharge channels and water collection tanks are also constructed to collect hazardous waste. The cooperative supports cultivation by planting shade trees and efficiently using fertilisers and pesticides.
Farms in the region are located at over 1600 masl and growers cultivate Bourbon and Kent varieties. Over 500 members and 500 non-members are part of the Hasambo AMCOS, who collectively produce 100 to 400 tonnes of parchment, annually. Hasambo was registered in August 1993 as a subgroup of Mbozi Cooperative Union before striking out as the first independent AMCOS in 2002.
This coffee was produced by 32 small holder producers who farm coffee in the high hills surrounding Remera washing station, located in the Gaseke Sector of Nyamagabe District, in Rwanda’s Southern Province. The farmers are members of the Twitezimbere Farmers’ Group, a small association of producers who deliver coffee to Buf Coffee company, who own and manage Remera along with three other washing stations.
Most washing stations in Rwanda receive cherry from hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of farmers who own very small plots of land. Separation of such tiny lots is expensive and impractical, so the large majority of coffees are processed as a mixed lot from multiple producers. Typically, lots are separated as day lots (ie. cherries that were all picked on the same day) rather than by a single farm or producer group.
The farmers who make up the Twitezimbere group come from a nearby village called Nyabubare. Recently they banded together and made the decision to process and market their coffees separately as a smaller, more selected lot. The group also provide each other with invaluable support, by sharing resources and labour during the busy harvest period. They named their association Twitezimbere, which roughly translates to ‘we work together for development’ in the local Kinyarwanda language.
To distinguish their coffee and ensure it is processed separately, the producers have organised to deliver cherry to the washing station on certain days of the week. Selling their coffee as a separate lot allows them to directly benefit from any higher prices paid specifically for their coffees (rather than these profits being shared equally amongst all contributing producers) and results in a higher income to support their families. This creates an effective incentive for the farmers to work as a collective towards achieving the very best quality, and the results are evident in the complex and clean profile of their coffee!
About Remera Washing Station
This coffee was processed at Remera washing station, which was established in 2007 and is the largest of Buf’s washing stations, servicing about 722 local coffee farmers. The washing station sits at 1,953 meters above sea level in the high, rugged mountains of Rwanda’s Southern Province. The area surrounding the washing station has mineral-rich soil and a lush environment that is well suited to specialty coffee production.
Quality control and day-to-day operations at Remera are overseen by station manager, Alexis Dushimimana, who is assisted by Head of Quality Control, Esther Ingabire. Together, they ensure that the coffee is harvested and processed with care and that production standards are kept at the highest possible level. Remera provides jobs for 60-80 people during the peak harvest and staffs seven permanent positions. At the end of each season, any surplus profits are shared with the producers and washing station managers.
About Buf Coffee
Buf Coffee was founded in 2000 by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a pioneering businesswoman and a source of inspiration to countless other female entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee community, and beyond. Buf is owned and operated by Mukashyaka – known to all as Ephiphanie – and her son, Samuel Muhirwa, who has taken an active role in the day to day operations of the business. The word ‘Buf’ is derived from ‘Bufundu’ and refers to the former name of the region in which all of their washing stations are located.
Epiphanie’s story is one of great resilience and fortitude. After losing her husband and a child during the horrific 1994 genocide, Epiphanie was faced with the responsibility of independently caring for and rebuilding a life for her seven surviving children. With limited education and little money or support, Epiphanie – whose husband was a coffee farmer – decided to focus on coffee as a means to a better and more stable livelihood. By participating in the USAID-financed program, Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), Epiphanie began to learn more about specialty coffee propagation and processing. This transformational program aimed at switching the focus of Rwandan coffee production to quality, rather than quantity, and thereby ending reliance on the notoriously volatile coffee commodity market. Rather, farmers were given access to far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The program and its successor, Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development (SPREAD), have been invaluable in helping in assisting Rwanda’s small scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the genocide, and the world coffee crash of the 1990’s.
Using the knowledge and resources she gained through PEARL, along with a small loan from the Rwandan Development Bank, Epiphanie was able to establish Buf Coffee in 2000, and purchased their first washing station – Nyarusiza – in 2003. She was the first woman to own a private coffee company and to establish a washing station in Rwanda. As Epiphanie says, “I came up with the idea to build this, and nothing was going to stop me.” Nyarusiza was followed by Remera in 2007 and now the family also own two other washing stations, Umurage and Ubumwe.
Before the proliferation of cooperatives and centralised washing stations in Rwanda, small farmers sold semi-processed cherries on to a middleman, and the market was dominated by a single exporter. This commodity-focused system – coupled with declining world prices in the 1990s – brought severe hardship to farmers, some of whom abandoned coffee entirely.
Today, it’s a different story. From the beginning, Epiphanie’s goal has been to produce high quality, specialty-focused coffees by improving farming and processing practices and maintaining high standards at each of her washing stations. In doing so, she has been instrumental in shifting the focus of the Rwandan coffee industry from producing high quantity, commercial lots, to more specialised, high-quality lots. As a result, the farmers that sell coffee cherry to Buf’s washing stations have benefited directly through increased income, and also indirectly through the access to important community resources like safe water and electricity, which have been brought to their villages via the establishment of the washing stations.
Buf Coffee buys cherry from over 7,000 smallholder farmers in Nyamagabe and Huye Districts of Rwanda’s Southern Province. The company has strong links with the local communities around their washing stations and provide hundreds of jobs during peak harvest (May-July) as well as nearly 50 permanent positions year-round.
Buf Coffee’s exceptional quality has been recognised year after year. It was awarded a prize in the 2007 Golden Cup and placed in the Cup of Excellence in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Epiphanie and Sam care deeply about the communities they work with. Outside of providing economic opportunities, Buf has initiated many social projects that support farmers in improving their and their family’s quality of life. In 2018 Buf partnered with the Rwandan Government’s One Cow per Poor Family program to distribute 500 cows across organised farmer groups within their supply chain over a five year period. Farmer groups nominate the member that should receive the cow with an expectation that the cow will eventually be bred, and its calves gifted to other members in the same group, creating a positive and ongoing ripple effect within the community.
Besides practical advantages like being an opportunity for additional income and providing dairy to feed the family and excellent manure for the coffee farms, cows are also a traditional symbol of wealth and status in Rwanda. By gifting a family with a cow Buf is not only providing farmers with a source of nutrition and alternative income to coffee, it also reinstates a sense of pride to the household (which most likely suffered devastating effects from the genocide).
In February of 2019 Buf opened a kindergarten next to Nyarusiza coffee washing station to service the children of local coffee farmers and washing station workers. While school is compulsory in Rwanda, kindergarten is not, and Sam noticed that many families weren’t able to work and supervise their small children during the busy coffee season. In partnership with Swedish coffee company Selector Coffee, Buf was able to open Umuvumu Kindergarten, which now has over 150 students aged between 3–6 years old. The children attend kindergarten from 7.30 am–12 pm, allowing their parents to put in a full morning’s work in the field or at Nyarusiza before picking them up. Tuition is free and the kids are currently provided with breakfast and will also be given lunch once the kitchen building and dining hall have been completed.
How Coffee is Processed by Buf Coffee
The ripe cherries are picked by hand and then delivered to the washing station either on foot, by bike, or by trucks that pick up cherries from various pick-up points in the area.
Before being pulped, the cherries are deposited into flotation tanks, where a net is used to skim off the floaters (less dense, lower grade cherries). The heavier cherries are then pulped the same day using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight.
The beans (in parchment) are then dry-fermented (in a tank with no added water) overnight for 8–12 hours. They are then sorted again using grading channels; water is sent through the channels and the lighter (i.e. lower grade) beans are washed to the bottom, while the heavier cherries remain at the top of the channel. The wet parchment is then soaked in water for around 24 hours, before being moved to pre-drying beds where they are intensively sorted for around six hours. This step is always done while the beans are still damp because the green (unripe) beans are easier to see. It is also always done in the shade to protect the beans from direct sunlight (which they have found helps to keep the parchment intact and therefore protects the bean better).
The sorted beans are finally moved onto raised African drying beds in the direct sun to dry slowly over 10–20 days. During this time the coffee is sorted carefully for defects and turned regularly to ensure the coffee dries evenly. It is also covered in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest.
Once at 11–12% humidity, the coffee (still in its parchment) is stored in the washing station’s warehouse in carefully labelled lots until it is ready for export. The coffee is then sent to Buf’s brand new dry mill, Ubumwe (built 2017), to be dry-milled. Here the parchment is removed, and the beans are sorted again by hand and using machinery to remove any physical defects. This is done under the watchful eye of Edouine Mugisha, who has worked with Buf since 2011. Having control over the milling of the coffee means that Buf has greater control over the quality of sorting and processing from cherry delivery right through to export.
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