Chelbessa

Buy and process the most delicious coffee from the Gedeo District of Ethiopia

Year founded

2012

Partnered with Stumptown

2013

Varieties

Ethiopia Heirloom

Processing technique

Washed

What’s new

Road improvements have made the farmers’ journey to the washing station much easier — what used to be a three hour trip is now down to an hour and a half.

The Producer

The three siblings who oversee the coffee processing station, help wash and process coffee in what is truly a Garden of Eden — at least for coffee. Their heirloom varieties date back centuries if not millennia, grown in air scented with eucalyptus. The name of the nearest town, Worka, translates to ‘golden’ in the Gedeo dialect, and the coffee we buy from washing station is a crown jewel for Stumptown.

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The Place

Getting to the Gedeo Zone takes four days. Along the way, we always stop for the night at the Aregash Lodge, where we sleep in traditional Sidama huts and take part in coffee ceremonies. From there, we’re only 40 miles from the Gedeo Zone — but those 40 miles take six bumpy hours to traverse. The washing station itself sits more than 6,000 feet above sea level in a bowl­shaped valley.

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The Process

From all the surrounding mountains, more than a thousand coffee farmers bring their coffee cherry down to the station on mule or by foot. There, the Roba brothers carefully oversee the cherry processing— first washing, then delicately drying the fruit. The result is a classic Ethiopian coffee, both clean and complex.

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More Details

Chelbessa’s washing station is developing relationships with farms from higher elevations and utilizing lot separation to increase quality. The heirloom coffee cherry varieties native to this area display a unique and exquisite flavor profile. The majority of farmers and their families cultivate as little as half a hectare of land with an average of 90 coffee trees. Farmers consider coffee a main crop which pays for taxes, school fees, clothes and food items. Crops are managed and harvested by the family members. During the harvest, they transport pristine coffee cherry down the mountain to the washing station either by mule or on foot. At the washing station, they ferment the coffee under water for 48 hours, wash and grade it in channels, soak it quickly, skin dry it, then fully dry it on raised beds.