Region: Sidamo Guji, Southern Oromia
Farmers: 850 small producers
Altitude: 1,800 – 1,950 metres above sea level
Variety: Mixed heirloom varieties
Processing: Fully washed
Washing Station: Jigesa
Owner: Faysel Yonis, Testi Coffee
Clean, rich and sweet. Raisins, raspberries and stone fruit.
ABOUT JIGESA (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants)
Jigesa (pronounced “Jee-gee-sa”) is a privately-owned washing station that is located in the Shakisso ‘woreda’ (administrative district) in the Guji zone in Ethiopia’s Southern Oromia State. It is named after the ‘kebele’ (local village) of Jigesa.
The washing station sits at 1,945m above sea level and is located very close to Yirgacheffe. Coffee is delivered daily to Jigesa by around 850 small producers. The majority of these families farm organically on tiny plots of land (averaging 2 – 5 hectares in size) located 1,800–1,950m above sea level. Coffee is their main cash crop, and grows under the shade of Birbira, Wanza and Acacia trees.
Jigesa is owned by Testi Coffee, a family owned company that was founded ten years ago by Mr Faysel Yonis. The company is committed to maximising the potential of Ethiopian coffee and enriching the lives of the communities that are connected to it. They own 4 washing stations, two of which are located in Guji, and all have stringent standards to ensure the coffee is processed to the highest possible quality. Jigesa is one of their newer washing stations and was established in 2014.
Testi’s business model is basically to buy coffee cherry from their ‘out-growers’ (an Ethiopian term for a small holder who contributes to a particular washing station) as well as coffee in parchment from partner washing stations. The company works closely with their producing farmers and washing station partners to improve the quality of the coffee, and also help develop the social conditions in the communities for the out-growers.
Mr Faysel, the owner of Testi, strongly believes that increased rewards for the out-growers should be shared by their entire community as a whole, rather than just delivering more financial benefits to the out-growers themselves. To this end, Testi Coffee has launched an initiative called Project Direct, which focuses on directly helping coffee farmers, their families, and surrounding communities in tangible and positive ways. The project has helped to build schools and get communities access to clean water. Their goal in the future is to get support from their importing and roasting partners to make this initiative more fruitful.
ABOUT THE GUJI REGION
The Guji zone was established as a unique production area in 2002. It is located in the Southern portion of Sidamo, and is named after the Oromo people; a tribe with a long, proud history in coffee production.
Coffees from Guji were previously classified as ‘Sidamo’ (a very wide geographical classification encompassing much of central-south Ethopia), however more recently they have been separated from this classification and recognised for their unique and distinctive cup profiles. This distinctiveness is driven by the unique combination of elements in this production area, including high altitudes, rich, fertile soil, and exceptional heirloom varieties.
Guji is bordered on the south and west by Borena, on the north by Gedeo and Sidama, and on the east by Bale and the Somali Region. Coffees that are classified as ‘Gujis’, originate from the ‘woreda’ (administrative regions) of Adoola Redi, Uraga, Kercha, Bule Hora, and Shakisso (where this lot is from.
Most communities in the region still live rurally and make a living from farming. Coffee remains the main cash crop for most families in the Guji region, who grow coffee alongside food for consumption, and other cash crops such as the Ethiopian banana.
This coffee is a mix of local varieties, including native coffees from forest origin that are collectively known as ‘Ethiopian Heirloom’. All of these varieties are Arabica and most originate from a Typica predecessor, but with wild mutations that result in some exceptional and unique flavour profiles.
This coffee has been processed using the washed method using clean water from the Mormora river. It is classified as Grade 1, indicating that a lot of effort has been put into the selection and grading during processing.
Each day, carefully hand-picked coffee cherries are delivered to the Jigesa washing station and are meticulously sorted by hand and in a floatation tank prior to processing to remove unripe, overripe, or damaged fruit, in order to enhance the quality and sweetness of the cup.
The coffee cherries are then pulped to remove the fruit and skin, and then graded by weight; heavier beans are superior quality and deliver a sweeter cup. After grading, the parchment-covered coffee is soaked in tanks of clean water for 36–48 hours to remove the mucilage (sticky covering) by allowing it to ferment and detach from the coffee.
The coffee is then re-washed and graded again by density in washing channels and soaked in clean water for 12 hours.
The coffee is then dried for 10–12 days on African drying beds, firstly under cover (for around 3 – 5 hours) and then subsequently in the sun. Whilst drying, the coffee is carefully hand-sorted, and any defects are removed. It is also turned regularly to ensure that it dries evenly and consistently. At midday, the coffee is covered to protect it from full sun. It is also covered overnight to prevent damage from morning dew. Once the coffee is dry and has reached its desired humidity it is rested in parchment until it is ready for export.
WHY WE LOVE IT
This coffee showcases the distinctiveness and exceptional potential of coffees from the Guji Region. In the cup this coffee is incredibly complex and unique, with sugar cane like sweetness, pineapple, yellow peach and lemon myrtle.