Grade-1 Chelchele (GrainPro)

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This coffee comes from the Chelchele washing station located in the woreda (district) of Kochere, in Ethiopia's Yirgacheffe region. The lot comprises coffee from 500 farmers in the area, most of whom own farms that of an average 5 hectare. The Chelchele station produces between 180 and 216 metric tons of coffee per year, most of which is Grade 1. The washed coffee is fermented between 36 and 48 hours and dried for 9 to 11 days.

Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX)

The ECX was started in 2008 to help protect farmers from market forces that might prevent them from making a living. Most of the coffee in Ethiopia is produced by smallholders who own less than 1-hectare farms; bumper crops often lead to big price drops, which can make it unprofitable for farmers to harvest their coffee. What the ECX does is commoditize grains—including sesame, beans, maize, wheat, and most importantly, coffee. This ensures prompt payment to farmers. It also integrates all parts of the “ecosystem” involved in a grains market, including warehousing, grading, trading, and payment. Access to information is emphasized, as farmers can obtain information about trading prices and local delivery points easily through dedicated telephone lines.

Here is a general rundown of how the ECX chain works in Ethiopia:

  • Farmers deliver cherry to local wet mills. Some wet mills pay a premium for better quality cherry, some do not.
  • The wet mill then delivers parchment coffee to a delivery station warehouse. In Yirgacheffe, this delivery station is in Dila.
  • Coffees are labeled with a region and then are graded based both on physical qualities as well as cup quality. Higher quality coffee fetches a higher price.
  • Coffee is categorized into 81 generic grades of coffee at the ECX: Processing: Washed, Un-washed, Region: Yirgacheffe, Sidama, Limu, etc. Flavor: A (Representative of region's cup characteristics) B (Less so), Grade: 1-9 (defect count)
  • Tracibility on the coffee an exporter purchases coffee through the ECX will, at most, be labelled as “Yirgacheffe: Konga” or “Sidama: Borena.”
  • Once a specific lot is purchased, it is then shipped to the buyer (typically an exporter in Ethiopia).
  • Full lots come divided in 30 bag chop sub-lots (parchment). Exporters who are buying and selling many containers will cup through the sub-lots to select the top lots and build a full container from these.

While this system does ensure prompt payment and streamlines supply chain issues, it removes essentially all traceability from the coffee. This is problematic in the specialty world, where traceability is paramount.

The ECX does not allow for complete traceability, but coffee cooperatives in Ethiopia do have the ability to go around the ECX and export the coffee themselves. Coffees that are exported by a cooperative can have traceability, possibly even to a single farmer.

ID# 9012

Origin Ethiopia
Region Werka Chelchele
Farm Various smallholders
Variety Various heirloom Ethiopian Varieties
Altitude 1800–1830 masl
Proc. Method Fully Washed

The Cup

"Sweet and floral with jasmine, toffee and lemon."


Photos