The Koke washing station is named for the Koke kebele, or town, where it is located in the Yirgacheffe district of the Gedeo Zone. Ally, our importer, has a long-standing relationship with the family-owned Koke washing station, which was built in 2011 and has seen many improvements since 2015, when the washing station staff began providing guidance to contributing producers regarding steps to increase coffee quality. Ally has been providing feedback to Koke and sourcing with them for more than five years, and looks forward to many more years of fruitful partnership.
The Koke station stands on the side of a hill, with coffee grown above and below the station. For the last three years, the Koke station managers have been separating out the higher elevation cherries for Ally, and the quality clearly shows. 96 small scale farmers provided cherries to Koke this harvest most of them multi-generational family farmers.
The Koke Honey process begins with coffee dried for two days in cherries, as in the Natural Process. Cherries are then depulped and dried on Koke’s 89 raised beds for 18-21 days. The extra time the mucilage is in contact with the beans adds fruity flavors to the cup profile.
Coffee Production in Yirgacheffe
Coffee grown in the many districts and kebeles of the Gedeo Zone is often referred to as Heirloom varieties, many of which were propagated and distributed to farmers in the last 40 years. Trees grow in red brown fertile soil under the shade of many tree species including Bibira, Cordia Africana, and the subsistence crop Ensete ventricosum.
In the southern region of Ethiopia, farmers pick coffee selectively, harvesting only ripe cherries individually by hand. Pickers rotate among the trees every eight to ten days, choosing only the cherries which are at peak ripeness.
Many pickers average approximately 100 to 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day, which will produce 20 to 40 pounds of coffee beans. Each worker’s daily haul is carefully weighed, and each picker is paid on the merit of his or her work. The day’s harvest is then transported to the processing plant.