Ethiopia: An Update from Green Buyer Claudia Bellinzoni

Posted on January 3rd, 2022

For all of us that work in coffee, “Happy Near Year” directly translates to “Fresh-crop Ethiopia season” — a time to taste some of the most beautiful coffees of the year.

As we excitedly await the arrival of peak harvest washed coffee samples this month, and natural coffee samples beginning in February, we wanted to take a moment to update you on our perspective regarding the current political landscape in Ethiopia as it pertains to the coffees we are sourcing for the 2022 season. It’s times like these that we are thankful for the long-term relationships we have built with our partners in Ethiopia.

We sat down with our green-buyer, Claudia Bellinzoni, to get a better understanding of how the current political and economic situation is affecting the coffee sector. She has been in constant communications with our exporting partners since early November:

1. What is the current situation in Ethiopia like?

“There’s a war. It’s affecting everything. It looks like the war is going to continue but people are having a difficult time talking about it, in general. Economically, it’s very unpredictable. Liquidity is very low and the government is encouraging farmers to sell cherries at a very high price, so the farmgate price has almost doubled from last year. The price fluctuation is about 5 cents, up and down every week, following the market price.

2. How is this all affecting coffee?

“Our partners are saying that quality is slightly up from last year. We have just started to cup the first samples of the year from Limu and are seeing the same trend. Availability of the highest scoring lots may be slightly limited but we are being as proactive as possible to book into contracts based on pre-shipment samples. Overall, we are seeing a price increase of 0.70-1.00 FOB over last year’s pricing, largely influenced by the farmgate price increase — something that is crucial to producers during these challenging times.”

3. Will there be any delays?

“As of now, we aren’t seeing anything that indicates delays. Harvest has been on time and samples are moving. We are staying in constant contact with our partners and will continue to monitor shipping of these coffees when the time comes.”

4. When can roasters plan to book coffees?

“Currently, we are planning to start contracting washed coffees by the end of January and natural coffees starting at the end of February, so reach out now to your sales representative to start planning your Ethiopian coffee needs.”

As we continue to navigate this ever-changing landscape, we will do our best to keep you as informed as possible when it comes to your Ethiopian needs.

Should any major changes occur, we will let you know.  We will also share additional updates once we have more information surrounding the pricing of ocean freight for these coffees starting middle of February.

Until then, “Happy New Year” !