Deeply isolated within the Yirgacheffe countryside, in the majestic green valley of Torre, the village of Semalo, Gelana and the Semalo Pride Mill are surrounded by acacia trees, bright green grass and tiny bonsai-like bushes. Small farm holders at the base of Lato Samalo Mountain are producing producing two, local, high grade varietals called Karume and Tulenge at elevations of 6,069 – 6.889 feet to be processed by the nearby Semalo Pride mill and its workers.
In only its second year in production, Semalo Pride is already employing 200 people and several key permanent staff members who oversee daily operations. The mill is owned and operated by female producer, Firewoyne Tesfaye along with its sister mill, Reko Koba (also managed by Firewoyne Tesfaye). Semalo Pride utilizes fermentation tanks to remove low-density cherries or floaters before processing. They have also replaced their raised bamboo drying beds which are prone to mold, with newer ones constructed of a metal and plastic mesh. All of the mill’s workers are trained in strict processing protocols. Growers are incentivized with premiums to produce high quality, ripe cherries, and the emphasis on quality has resulted in some outstanding special preparation lots.
Operations Manager, Zodi has worked in coffee processing his entire life, contributing to his team a rare and valuable understanding of the Ethiopian coffee process. Their accountant, Tesfaye oversees transport of the coffees and is responsible for the payment of every small farm producer who contributes cherries to the wash station. Engineer and mechanic Teriku is responsible for operating and maintaining the pulping machine, a critical role when it comes to the success of processing high quality coffees. The pulping machine must be properly calibrated for different coffee types – if done improperly, it is very easy for coffee to become nipped, bruised and torn during pulping.
Each lot of washed coffee undergoes an initial fermentation that lasts 36-48 hours, with the water being refreshed twice daily after its initial fill. After the fermentation, 6-8 workers begin to agitate the parchment with wooden rakes using a uniform motion and flush it with fresh water, allowing for lower density parchment to be separated and dried, while the heavier density parchment will undergo a traditional “double wash” for an additional 12-24 hours as needed. Finished parchment is laid out on raised drying tables that are labeled per lot. Raised drying tables expose the parchment to valley winds to help aeration; they’re covered at noon, overnight and also in the case of rainfall to protect from overly stressful or extreme conditions. Drying can take up to 7-10 days during which the parchment is constantly monitored and turned to painstakingly remove defects and maintain a uniform degree of moisture (between 10.5 – 11.5%). When ready the parchment is removed from the beds and kept at a storehouse until it is sold and shipped to the dry mill for final processing.
The Gelana District is located in the Borena Zone which borders the SNNPR, Gedeo and Guji. Although technically classified as the Gelana Abaya District, it borders Kochere and lies within the larger coffee growing area known as Yirgacheffe. The Borena Zone is just one of many zones within the larger Oromia region, but in as early as 2005 it accounted for nearly 6% of Ethiopia’s total coffee production. Today coffee production remains a major component of the Borena economy along with several gold mines that are located here.
|Variety:||Karume, Tulenge (Gesha type)|
|Processing:||Washed & Sun Dried|
|Altitude:||6,069 - 6.889 ft (1850 - 2100m)|
|Harvest:||November - January|