It’s not that Tega & Tula Specialty Coffee Farm is the birthplace of coffee, but the chances are good that it’s not too far off the mark: The 500-hectare pair of farms is nestled among the wild forest coffee of the famous Keffa zone of Ethiopia, where some say the first Arabica plants most likely sprouted and spread. In fact, it’s thought that the name of the area itself is born from the same origin story, related to the Arabic word for coffee: qahwah.
The farms’ origin story is as interesting as its main crop: They were purchased by a former chief operations officer of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and a longtime business and financial professional Ahadu Woubshet, who happened to find himself some partner-investors who shared his dream and saw the great potential for specialty coffee not only as personal investment but also as a way to support a community.
After several years with the ECX, Ahadu found himself interested in a more first-hand experience with coffee, and began a search for a promising piece of land where he could explore what he thought could be transformed into something like a model coffee farm, focusing on quality of coffee as well as quality of life for the people and plants involved. Ahadu found an area in the Keffa zone that was pristine, beautiful, and looked like the perfect place to build not only a coffee farm and farmhouse but also a treehouse for his kids and the occasional coffee-buying visitor. Before too long, he found just the right spot—or spots, actually, as Tega & Tula technically comprises two farms—and now that he’s got the coffee business up and running, he’s turning his attention to that magical treehouse and a guest lodge, among plenty of other things.
Ahadu renovated the existing farmland and has nearly 400 hectares planted with coffee, being careful to keep lots separated by variety and particular location and topographic conditions and soliciting advice from longtime coffee professionals about how to improve his processing and achieve better prices. Over the past few years, he has invested in better drying techniques and technology, and trains and pays his pickers considerably better than the local average—investments that lead to longtime relationships with the employees who staff Tega & Tula, who also happen to be Ahadu’s neighbors. The combined farm is named for the two villages it straddles, Tega and Tula, and has become a significant part of the local economy, employing many locals and paying higher-than-usual, and purchasing and processing coffees from small nearby farms. Nearly 50 permanent full-time staff work on the land and processing facility year-round, while the harvest season can see as many as 350–400 workers at its peak.
Ahadu is committed to supporting the wellbeing of this chosen community and has contributed to school programs as well as other efforts in the villages. In fact, Ahadu and his team are currently preparing to build an elementary school, which should be finished by the beginning of the school year in 2020. The school is completely funded by Tega & Tula, and so is a local scholarship that’s awarded annually to two women graduates who intend to go off to university after their studies. Tega & Tula has also made plans to repair a road that connects the villages of Tega and Tula, nearly 10 miles in total.
Another focus held by both Ahadu and his partners is the conservation and protection of the environment in which Tega & Tula thrive: The farms are surrounded by UNESCO forests and is home to an incredibly diverse range of animals and plants that represent the rich and vibrant landscape of Ethiopia. Tega & Tula’s organic certification is an important part of the business model, and Ahadu is clear to show how valuable it is for the farm to be part of a healthy ecosystem rather than simply deplete natural and human resources in order to simply make a profit. Not only that, but the commitment pays off in terms of quality as well: In the past three years, Ahadu reports that his coffees’ average scores have gone up from a solid 85 to an even more impressive 87.25—no small jump, and simply a sign of things to come.
This year, Cafe Imports’ relationship with Tega & Tula has expanded considerably, and our lots have begun to arrive already. We love the bergamot, raspberry, orange, caramel, rose, and jasmine notes of the stellar Washed offerings from Tega & Tula, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to an example of sustainable, traceable, single-farm coffees from Ethiopia.
Click below to browse our offerings from Tega & Tula Specialty Coffee Farm.