Having been under construction for the past five months and nearing completion Israel Degfa’s new washing station is just needing those few finishing touches that will make it a great example to other washing stations and the largest in the surrounding area.
Mezgebu Mokonen who is the accountant for the washing station and has been for the past three years, is showing me some of the new features at Anasora. He explains that they have recently put down 100 new drying beds with green shade netting to allow better ventilation as well as protection from the sun, they will be adding extra beds throughout the harvest.
The station employs 70 regular staff all year round although in December and January they can have up to 300 workers helping with the harvest. The extra staff will help with the running of the wet mill and washing as well as the quality control of the coffee. Traditionally in Ethiopia, the picking out of bad, over or under ripe cherries and defected washed coffee is largely done by hand and so requires a large seasonal workforce, this greatly increases employment in the surrounding area.
Housing for the new pulping machine and the new fermentation tanks are just about finished. There is a large generator close by to keep power going through electricity cuts as well as to increase production at night time. This maximises the time available in a busy harvest as well as allowing more workers the opportunity to work night shifts.
Many of the farmers delivering coffee, some having travelled a number of miles, will only reach the washing station in the evening. This means that the sorting and pulping of the cherries at night time while still fresh is a crucial part of the quality control for the production of this and most stations.
They have recently installed large concrete drying patios which have been put down to experiment with the difference in profile from using the shade netting that they have traditionally used in recent times.
Yohanis Harga and Tesfane Bunte proudly showed me some of the drying coffee they are working on, covered slightly by the shade netting to keep the hot sun off. As the production assistants for the washing station, it is their business to know the current status of all the coffees on the station, whether they are drying, in the tanks or ready to be washed. They tell me that good forward planning helps increase the quality and yield for the station.
It is looking to be a large albeit late harvest at Anasora this year and we are very excited to cup some samples in January to see what sort of profiles they are producing this year. Watch this space.