New Coffee Release: Ethiopia Uraga Bisrat
The Guji region of southern Ethiopia is a remote place, beautifully forested and – in many ways – an untouched area of the country. Lush green forest covers the expanse of innumerable hills and valleys.
Bisrat Melaku is somewhat unique in the field of Ethiopian washing station owners: not only does he own and operate his washing station, Uraga Bisrat, but he also tends to his own farm, which is tucked beneath the Guji canopy. By farming and processing coffee, Bisrat proves he is an active coffee entrepreneur.
Bisrat’s passion for coffee comes from his grandparents who grew coffee long before it was a prized crop in Guji. He would stroll through their coffee gardens as a child, learning the ins and outs of the trade. Although he was the youngest child in his family, they involved him in growing and harvesting. His childhood experience would fuel his love for all of the steps in coffee growing and production.
Later, Bisrat’s grandparents would give him their farm, and he would pass down his passion to his children. His adult children help with tending the farm: mowing, chopping, pruning, and composting. This assistance is much needed, as the mill keeps Bisrat just as busy as 600 neighboring farmers deliver their cherries to his station.
He opened Uraga Bisrat in 2014, installing cement fermentation tanks, a six-disk pulper, and 150 drying beds. He uses the water from the small Tebie River to wash and ferment the coffees processed at his station.
Bisrat ferments his coffee between 36 and 48 hours, depending on the weather. Wastewater treatment tanks hold and refresh the used water after processing, which will be recycled for future processing. After washing the parchment, he sundries the coffees between 7 and 21 days, depending on the weather. Shade nets and cloths protect the parchment from the scorching sun and possible rainy days.
The Uraga Bisrat station is one that is still up-and-coming, growing, and improving each year. They are looking to increase the quality of coffee year after year, which has been accomplished through a communal approach. Farmers have been able to learn from one another by sharing compost and agricultural tips and tricks. In turn, this has produced better production techniques and agricultural practices.