Farm Focus | Wolichu Wachu, Ethiopia
So much has changed in Ethiopia since 2017 and it's due to these changes that this year we are buying more and more from the country. Only until recently were washing stations in Ethiopia able to sell their coffee directly to roasters and green suppliers. Prior to 2017, all coffees had to go through the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange 'ECX', a central government controlled system where all coffees were graded and allocated to a region. This would not only prevent traceability back to the washing station and co-ops, but also incentive for the farmers – knowing where your produce will be sold, the end user, that the processes you use as a farmer will be maximised, played with and celebrated by the roaster. Finally farmers are being rewarded for better quality produce - lots are separated and highlighted and these are then able to sell at higher prices and allowing these stations to work with the same buyers year on year.
We've never bought from Wolichu Wachu, but based on this coffee, it's a co-op we are truly excited about.
Wolichu Wachu is situated approximately 30km from the nearest town - Haro Wachu - in the Uraga District, Oromia. The washing station works alongside 4500 smallholders in the area, who farm small parcels of prime coffee growing terroritory, an average of half a hectare. Fertile clay soils, yearly rainfall levels of 1500 - 2000mm and soaring altitudes of up to 2300 masl all contribute to Wolichu Wachu's output and profile. Unusually for Ethiopia, around 90% of coffee delivered to Wolichu Wachu for processing is Bourbon - not the usual Heirloom varieties you might expect.
Established only in 2017, Wolichu Wachu produce both fully washed and natural process coffees. The new infrastructure has been designed and built to limit the use of water pumps and to work with maximum efficiency. The process for washed coffees involves meticulous sorting, followed by screening and floating, which is incorporated by the station's state of the art de-pulper, which sorts lights and floaters into different tanks after it has removed the pulp from the cherry. After this, the coffee is soaked in clean water in tanks for between 36 and 72 hours.
Next, the coffee is pushed through grading channels to clean and sort the coffee by density, before the top qualities undergo a further soaking period of between 8 -12 hours.
Drying at Wolichu Wachu is done in the lower field at the station. Pre-drying on separate tables is done to remove excess water from soaking, and additional sorting is carried out. After a day, it is then moved to raised beds where it is turned and dried for approximately 12 days.
We cupped more washed Ethiopian coffees than we can count this season and only selected two which we know to be extraordinary and unique, scoring 87 and over.
Soon to be found online for purchase ... watch this space!