The buying guide I was working on for Ethiopian coffee, under the aegis of the USAID-ATEP project there, is finally finished.
We are printing up about a hundred coffees to take to the SCAA show in Houston at the end of the month. In the meantime, people can get access this document online here. This is a very big file and will take a couple minutes to load, even with a fast connection. Or you can download the pdf file by right-clicking the link.
This is a complete guide to understanding Ethiopian coffee, from production, to processing, to buying and selling. It includes phone numbers and emails of all the major cooperative unions and exporters, logistical information about buying Ethiopian coffee (and coffee in general). It even has an extended section showing the morphology of different coffee beans from different regions of Ethiopia (with astonishing high-resolution pictures).
I'll post some of the most interesting pictures and information here on the blog, but if you want to take a free master class on understanding how coffee really works, I recommend you download a copy for yourself.
I made this video for the Ethiopian Coffee Roundtable that's happening in Addis Ababa this week, and figured I would share it here. A couple of the clips you have seen part of before on this blog. The music is Mulatu Astatqe.
I'm transforming this coffee from rattling yellow, papery bits of paper into a cup of delicious coffee. First step: hand milling the sample to take off the "parchment" (or "pergamino"). Beneath that papery shell is the little green nugget of goodness.
On a beautiful sunny, breezy day in southern Ethiopia, I shot this video of how coffee gets washed and dried. There's a lot more to coffee processing than what you see here, including de-pulping the cherries and fermentation, which come before what you see in this video, chronologically. Then, after the activities seen in this video, comes sorting, milling, and packing (and yet more sorting).
But this is the heart of the whole thing. Hard to believe this was just a couple weeks ago... it's been raining non-stop in gloomy Seattle since I got back to the States.
Although most of my visits to coops in Sidama, Yirgacheffe, and Harar involved a lot of indoor meetings, explaining our quality improvement and marketing project to the committee members, there were some amazing moments like this one. This is the Bele Kara cooperative in the Wenago district of the Yirgacheffe region.
I actually shot a much longer video of these women singing, but I've edited it down here for size. Part way through you can see the men in the upper areas of the facility, carrying coffee and helping with the washing of the coffee. The women do most of the work of sorting and turning the coffee in the sun. At the end of the video you can see what a beautiful setting this is.
Since a couple people have asked me, yes, I get permission from people before taking pictures and videos. These people understood I was not a tourist, and that this video would ultimately go toward the promotion of their coffee in the United States. (I will be editing together a video of this trip to show when I host cuppings around the US featuring this coffee in 2010.)