Dark Chocolate. Toffee. Blackberry Jam.
Farm: Casa de Piedra
Grower: Gerardo Arias
Country: Costa Rica
Elevation: 1,400 - 1,500m
Varieties: Caturra, Catuai
Sourced Through: InterAmerican Coffee Australia
Casa de Piedra is located in the Tarrazu district, in the micro-region of “Llano Bonito de Leon Cortes”. The farm’s name means “Stone House”, and its yearly production is around the 2500 fanegas, with varietals in production such as Caturra, Yellow Catuai, Red Catuai, Venecia, Villa Sarchi, and Geisha.
The Arias family began to mill their cherries themselves in order to gain a better control over their coffee’s quality and fetch better prices. Semi washed, honey, and natural are some of the processes most popular processes for Casa de Piedra, but they also process some very nice anaerobic fermentation coffees.
In addition, Gerardo Arias recently obtained his Q grader and Q processing certification which only adds to his already wide knowledge and experience.
The cherries for this lot are hand-picked before they are immersed in a floatation tank to separate unripe/defective fruits. The cherries were dried with the entire fruit on concrete patios for 8 days, before being transferred to the mechanical dryer where time and temperature are meticulously controlled to achieve the best possible shelf-life.
When the coffee reaches the desired humidity point, it is stored and left to rest for 2 months before being hauled. It is then dry-milled, process during which dry husk is removed from the seeds, and the resulting coffee beans go through weight, screen, density, and colour sorting.
The farm has 3 rock formations near the river that used to be inhabited by the first settlers. Don Gerardo says that when he was a kid he would go spend summers living in these caves.
Mechanical driers are commonly know as Guardiolas in Costa Rica. “G#2” stands for “Guardiola 2” which is Gerardo’s favourite guardiola on his farm.
Dark Chocolate. Toffee. Blackberry Jam.
Strawberry jam, candied pecans and px sherry.
Elevation: 1,600–1,650 masl
Variety: Caturra, Catuaí
Producer: Carmela Aduviri
Sourced Through: Melbourne Coffee Merchants
This coffee was produced by Carmela Aduviri from Copacabana, a small and remote settlement located 180 kilometres from La Paz in the heart of the Caranavi province. This region is the epicentre for specialty coffee production in Bolivia, with incredibly high altitudes, rich soil, and wide daily temperature ranges providing the perfect conditions for exceptional coffee.
The inhabitants of Copacabana first began farming coffee around 35 years ago. Farms here are small and traditional. Almost all work is carried out by the farm's owners and their extended families, with a handful of temporary workers taken on to help out during harvest. All of the producers at Copacabana were born into the Aymara, an ancient indigenous group which lived on the Altiplano (a vast plateau of the central Andes that stretches from southern Peru to Bolivia and into northern Chile and Argentina). The region was known for the world’s highest lake, called Titicaca, and when their families moved to Caranavi, they named their ‘colony’, or settlement, Copacabana.
Carmela has worked in coffee for fourty years while raising eight children. Her farm, “Carmelita”, is about 2 hectares in size, and is located at an altitude of 1,400 to 1,550 metres above sea level. Today Carmela manages the farm with her son, and together they have worked incredibly hard on improving and producing the best quality coffee they can. They grow a mix of Caturra and Catuaí variety trees on their farm, which grow in a rich clay soil under the protective shade of native forest trees, whose heavy leaf fall creates a natural mulch fertiliser, and whose canopy provides an important habitat for the many bird and insect species in the area.
The families who live in Copacabana, including the Aduviri family, used to depend on the local market to sell their coffee, meaning low prices and little reliability. Now they selectively pick their coffee cherries and are able to sell their top-grade coffees for substantially higher prices to MCM's partners at Agricafe, which processes specialty lots at its Buena Vista wet mill which is located in Caranavi.
The first of its kind in the country, the Sol de la Manaña program is aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with local producers to create better quality coffees in higher quantities. By doing so Agricafe hopes that coffee production can be a viable and sustainable crop for producers, like Carmela, in the region for many years to come.
Carmela joined the Sol de la Mañana program in 2015. As a member of the program, she has followed a very structured series of courses, focused on improving her quality and yield. The curriculum focuses on one aspect of farming at a time, and covers things such as how to build a nursery, how and when to use fertiliser, how to prune, has how to selectively pick coffee. Agricafe also hosts workshops with leading agronomists throughout the year. These forums have allowed the producers to meet one another, share their experiences and discuss ways to tackle problems they are experiencing. Over time the producers have become more experienced and confident and actively sharing their learning with each other.
The results of this program have been profound, with improved quality and quantities for all participating producers. In addition, the producers have become more confident and proactive and engaged as a community and are sharing their learnings and experiences with each other. Daniela explains that this is where the program becomes really powerful: “We are giving them the tools and know-how, but they are actively choosing to follow our advice and invest in their farms. Now they can see the results, they trust us 100% and helping their neighbours achieve similar results.”
Since becoming a member, Carmela has built a vibrant coffee nursery and learnt to prune, feed, and manage her coffee plantation in order to increase her yield. The program has helped her invest in her plantation and encouraged her to take a long-term view, and in doing so she has established the foundations for a more sustainable and ultimately more profitable future for her family. As her farm has increased its yield and quality has improved Carmela has recognised that she can live off her 2 hectares of land if she focuses on quality and takes a modern farming approach. She is now actively teaching her sons what she has learnt so that they can buy a farm themselves and implement best practice farming techniques from the outset.
After the coffee was delivered, it was placed into a floatation tank and all floaters were removed. The whole cherries were then dried on on raised beds in the sun and turned turned regularly to ensure it dried evenly. The drying was then finished off at a very low temperature in a stationary drier. The coffee was then transported to La Paz where it was rested, and then milled at the Rodriguez family’s brand new dry mill. At the mill, the coffee was carefully screened again by machines and also by hand to remove any defects.
Carmela worked hard to collect and process the cherries for this special micro lot and carefully hand polished all of the cherries before delivering them to the mill! A whole lot of love and hard work has gone into this coffee.. we hope you enjoy it!
Read about the Sol de la Mañana program here and Pedro Rodgriguez here and about Bolivian coffee more generally here.
Toasted nuts, butterscotch and milk chocolate.
Region: Chapada Diamantina
Altitude: 1,150m above sea level
Owner: Borré Family
Awards: Cup of Excellence 2015 #15
Sourced Through: Melbourne Coffee Merchants
Fazenda Progresso is a beautiful farm nestled in the Chapada Diamatina mountain range in the heart of Bahia. The farm is surrounded by the Chapada Diamantina National Park, known for its mountainous cliff formations (Chapada) and 19th century diamond mining (Diamantina).
The history of Fazenda Progresso dates back to 1984, when the Borré family migrated from southern Brazil to the northeast and purchased some land in the municipality of Ibicoara, near the town of Mucugê. In the early years, the family tried growing crops such as soybeans, wheat, and English potatoes. The potatoes turned out to be an incredibly successful crop, stimulating investments and making the family one of the largest producers of potatoes in Brazil!
In 2005, the Borré family sought to diversify the activities on their land, and so began to focus on coffee. As MCM learnt when they first met the family, when they commit to a new project, they seek to do it to the very highest possible standard. Their work with coffee is no exception. The family’s commitment to producing exceptional coffee has been unwavering over the last decade. They have sought advice from some of the most respected professionals in the field, including Silvio Leite, founder of the Cup of Excellence and president of the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association, with 30 years’ experience in coffee grading, tasting, and quality control.
The Borré family has invested heavily to ensure that they have the very best infrastructure to process coffee, which allows them to control quality every step of the way, from picking right through to export. They have a dedicated quality control lab with a talented cupping team headed up by Ednaldo Nascimento (AKA ‘Gandula’—nicknamed after the boy that replaces the ball during a soccer match)! Gandula and his team assess every lot of coffee produced and ensure that the quality is the very best it can be.
The Borrés are very hands-on in their approach to managing the farm. They are extremely professional in the way they conduct their business, and they take great care to create an excellent work environment for their staff. Throughout the year, there are around 200 permanent staff members on the farm, and this number grows to 650 during the harvest. Many of these harvest workers return every year, and all are provided with daily bus transportation and food.
In total, 700 hectares of the property are dedicated to coffee; this land is divided up into different plots, which are processed separately. Over time, the family has worked out the optimum way to plant coffee trees in order to maximise productivity, with 50 centimetres between each tree and three metres between each row of trees. This year we have purchased coffee from four different plots on the property; each is extremely unique in its profile, and all are exceptional!
The Borré family business has always been managed and directed by family members and is now in its third generation of operation. Fabiano Borré looks after everything to do with the coffee side of the business. He is young, focused and very motivated to produce the very best coffee he can. You can read an interview with Fabiano Borré here.
White chocolate, dried cranberries and baked apple.
Washing Station: Chelchele
Region: Gedeo, Yirgacheffe
Elevation: 2,200 - 2,400m
Varieties: Dega, Kurmi & Welisho
Sourced Through: Upstream Imports & Ethio Gabana
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."
Mandarin, black tea and bergamot.
Washing Station: Hadeso
Owner: Faysel A. Yonis
Region: Guji, Sidamo
Processing: Fully Washed
Elevation: 1,800 - 1,950m
Variety: Heirloom Bourbon & Typica
Sourced Through: Melbourne Coffee Merchants & Testi Coffee
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.