Correspondents from travelling Ethiopia in the early days of December 2014. I want to express my gratitude to all the farmers, workers, cuppers and mill managers who assisted me in travelling the country. Every person in these photos graciously gave permission.
Joshua Tarlo, Coffee Development Manager
Ethiopia runs on a different clock. A different clock, a different calendar, a different year. Right now if I was writing this in Ethiopia at 14:00 it would actually be 08:00 because 06:00 is zero hours and they count up to 18:00 at night and then call it a day. On top of that it isn’t 2014, it’s only 2007. Everything is different.
I woke up early at zero hour to beat the chaos of traffic that is Addis and to start our six hour journey south to our first processing site, Huntuke. Driving though a city before it wakes up always gives you a different perspective. Part of it might be seeing the late night bars sweeping out the final casualties of a long night or the folks slowly walking to their temples but it's intimate seeing a city so rested.
As we sped through the pot-holed highways out of town we drove under makeshift aqueducts bringing water to collections of houses. The country came awake over the next hour or so and I remembered this country lives on the road. In those six hours towards Yirgacheffe I don't know if a minute went by without passing people walking on the side of the road; this place is on the move and with warn out sandals, bicycles and an endless supply of donkeys.
Driving through the country in a car of coffee people the subject matter is pretty single-minded. At one point I think we were saying the word ‘coffee’ on an average of nine times a minute. I spent the long hours staring at the beautiful country and picking the brain of Seffie our kind guide who answered my questions about the Ethiopian coffee industry. It's one of the reasons why a lot of us come to Ethiopia - not just to find amazing coffees or to act as a bridge between the final cup and its producers, but to answer all the questions that we had. The coffee industry is tough, there are no real schools or degrees only experiences that give you knowledge.
As we approached the end of the six hour drive we turned off onto what could only be loosely termed a road through the forest. Here there was no dodging pot holes; the ride was almost fun in its endless bumps and jolts.
Arriving at Huntuke, the first of the dozens of mills I visited on the trip, we got to work. Piling out of the car I shook hands with the co-op manager and a handful of people that just seemed to be keen to shake the hands of strangers.
What I was looking for at this stage in the harvest was an insight into what I could expect from the coffee. First I looked at the pulper. The pulper is massively important. The pulper's used in Yirgacheffe are an old style disk type. Basically two disks with ridges are calibrated to rub the fruit off the bean which is then channelled to a sorting bath which separates the coffee into grades. This is done through weight with the dense beans dropping to the bottom of the water filled channel (grade 1) and then the slightly lighter into grade 2. Finally the floaters are separated into low-grade coffee.
Read the final article here http://bit.ly/OriginEthiopiaPart3