Producer Profile – Ethiopia
Roast Profile: Medium
Cupping Notes – Limu: Citrus lime acidity, notes of stone fruit with a hint of spice
Cupping Notes – Yirgacheffe: Soft lemon flavours and acidity up front
As the birthplace of coffee, the Oromia region is home to unique and diverse plant species. Arabica coffee has always grown wild in the forests of the south-western highlands of the Kaffa and Buno districts. About 98% of the coffee in Ethiopia is produced on small scale farms and it is the country’s most important export. Ethiopia is Africa’s third largest coffee producer.
Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU)
Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) is the largest Fairtrade coffee producer in Ethiopia. Founded in 1999, OCFCU is owned by democratically organized coffee farmers coops in the Oromia regional state. Today there are 217 primary cooperatives in the Union, representing 180,080 households. It’s members own 57 wet mill (pulperies) , 16 hulleries and 71 coffee warehouses.
The union has chosen to bypass many of the middlemen that characterise the international coffee trade, sorting, roasting, and exporting its own coffee, this means better traceability and quality control. The union returns 70 percent of its gross profits to its cooperatives.
Coffee growing and processing
Generations of Ethiopian coffee producers have avoided agrochemicals, and OCFCU reinforces this with advice and workshops. Over 80% of OCFCU’s Fairtrade certified coffee is grown organically under a canopy of Acacia and Oak trees in bird-friendly conditions. The natural decay of plants and leaves, as well as animal manure enriches the soil. Coffee is also grown amongst with cardamom, ginger, papaya and sweet potatoes. This creates ideal conditions to grow a unique coffee. OCFCU produces six types of coffee, all award-winning.
OCFCU coffee is both wet and dry processed. Some farmers deliver their harvest of red cherries directly to the primary cooperative for wet processing, others will sun dry and hull their coffee before taking it to the nearest primary cooperative.
OCFCU now have a cupping lab for quality control located at its office and have massive central facility for technical, financial, administrative and also high tech processing facility. OCFCU have also recently created its own members bank which is one of the greatest benefits to its own members for the much needed pre-harvest financing. They also provide their farmers with insurance options to cover coffee against loss.
Benefits of Fairtrade
I’ve built a new house with a corrugated iron roof and have been able to put aside some reserve money for my family
– Shafii Awal Jibrael
OCFCU runs training for farmers on sustainable, bird-friendly techniques, composting and natural fertilisers. Farmers are encouraged to intercrop their coffee with productive plants such as avocado, mango and cardamom. This both supports the household and develops unique flavours in the coffee.
OCFCU has provided loans to five primary cooperatives to purchase eco-friendly machines to prepare washed coffee. This saves water, reduces pollution of the surrounding water sources, and saves money on running costs.
OCFCU is the biggest shareholder in the Co-operative Bank of Oromia, which it co-founded in 2006. This has enabled primary cooperatives to access loans so they can purchase their members’ coffee, and provide other services.
The Union provides financial contributions to people who have suffered natural disasters. OCFCU have also set up a fund for repairing equipment if it fails.
Recognising the essential role of education in the fight against poverty, Oromia used the Fairtrade Premium to build 15 schools and 42 additional classrooms, to help farmers keep their children in school. OCFCU has also constructed a kindergarten for the Coche Community to help promote early education. OCFCU has also funded the construction and operation of four local health clinics, established 56 clean water supply stations for coffee growing communities; and farmers have used the extra income to build or repair houses and purchase livestock.
I’ve received training on how to best manage my coffee trees, my children are taught at a school constructed using our Fairtrade Premium, reducing our family’s expenses on education, and development of a local spring has provided us with clean drinking water and all the health improvements that come with that.
– Tura Abba Goja, OCFCU farmer