Carve Coffee - Ethiopia
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Smallholders near Banco Gotete in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia
Local Landraces & JARC 74 selections
2000 - 2100 masl
Notes of Floral Earl Grey and Raspberry
This exceptional lot was processed, dry milled and exported by Legu Trading. It was grown by smallholder farmers living around the town of Banco Gotete in Gedeo County, Yirgacheffe region. Most contributing farmers own less than a hectare of land, and they grow coffee simply as a cash crop. Coffee will usually be interspersed with other subsistence crops, such as sweet potato, mangos and avocados. Income from coffee is important but minimal for most farmers due to the small size of their farms. As such, inputs are minimal – most coffee grown in the region is 100% organic, though not certified, as farmers simply can't afford fertilisers. Legu trading tries to help with this situation by offering a premium price and by hiring as many individuals as possible in their mills and facilities. The company hires at least 300 people year round and up to 600 in the high season.
Varieties of coffee grown here are traditionally referred to as ‘heirloom’ by exporters – a catchall terminology which often masks the wide assortment of varieties that may be present within various regions…even, within farms. Many of these varieties will have been developed by Ethiopia’s Jimma Agricultural Research Centre (JARC), which, since the late 1960s, has worked to develop resistant and tasty varieties for the Ethiopian coffee industry and also to provide the agricultural extension training needed to cultivate them. The dual factors of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) forced anonymisation of lots combined with the relatively low awareness of formal variety names outside Ethiopia has meant that the JARC’s work has historically been under-recognised by speciality importers and roasters, but a new book issued by Counter Culture Coffee in the USA (2018/19) has drawn new attention to the topic.
It is important to note that varieties in Ethiopia fall within two main groups – regional or local landraces (of which there are at least 130, 33 of which would hail from the Southern growing regions) or JARC varieties. It is still very hard to tell but it is highly likely that this lot contains a great percentage of JARC 740110 and 74112 varieties, developed in 1974 by the JARC, which are directly descended from local landraces indigenous to the Gedeo Region. Most farmers have a mix of both the improved and the indigenous landrace varieties (inherited from parents and grandparents) on their farms, though research by Counter Culture’s Getu Bekele does show that there is a strong concentration of the JARC ’74 varieties.