Lalesa is one of the finest coffee producing areas in Gedeo. Known for its dense layered semi forest vegetation structure encompassing “false banana” trees as well as shade grown coffee trees, Lalesa is a great example of best practices in coffee growing agroecology.
Alemayehu Tilahun built his wet mill in 2018 with the hope of purchasing exclusively red cherries from the nearby farmers in Lalesa. Alemayehu is a native of the Gedeo Zone; he started his journey to the coffee industry 17 years ago and still describes it as a success built on a strong foundation of relationships with the community. Alemayehu Tilahun is now a vertically integrated supplier to SNAP Specialty Coffee Export and first partnered with SNAP through his wet mill in Chelchele, 17 Km away from the Gedeb town where he originally built his wet mill.
Origin name: Lalesa
Farm/washing station name: Alemayehu Tilahun
Altitude: 1900-2150 masl
Sub Region: Yirgacheffe
Number of farms: 476
Farm size: 1-2 hectares
The company’s supply policy rests on three main pillars:
- Process specialty coffee consistently;
- Transfer the required know-how to the outgrowing farmers along with a great desire and training in processing and cleaning methods;
- Protect the environment through waste recycling systems.
SNAP Coffee’s relationship with Tropiq began quite recently. “We are quite at ease because of Tropiq’s efficiency in communication, and even more on logistics facilitation,” Abenezer, SNAP Coffee Supply Chain Manager said. He also reports that Tropiq’s regular and timely feedback on coffee lots have given SNAP Coffee a lot of insight which helps them supply consistently great coffee.
Average lot size of farmers: 1-2 hectares
Soil type: Rich and fertile red soil
Number of trees per hectare: 1800-2400
How much cherries per tree on average: 3 kgs
Average selling price of farmers per kilo of cherries in 2019/2020 harvest: $0.80/25 birr
|Harvest and cherry selection||Cherries are collected manually and hand sorted later.|
|Pulping and pre-grading||The cherries are pulped by a traditional Agaarde Discpulper. Skin and fruit pulp are removed before the machine grades the parchment in water as 1st or 2nd quality, determined by density.|
|Fermentation||The parchment is fermented in water for 48 hours.|
|Washing and grading in channels||Coffees are washed in channels, and graded in water by density. The lower density (lower quality) will float and are removed, leaving only the denser and therefore higher quality beans which are separated as higher grade lots.|
|Soaked under clean water||Parchment is then soaked in tanks in clean water for 2 hours before it is moved to the drying tables.|
|Drying and hand-sorting||Coffee is then piled up in layers which are 2cm in height and dried over a 10 day period then followed by hand sorting for 2-4 hours.|
|Warehousing at the washing station||After drying the coffees will be packed in jute bags and stored in the local warehouse onsite, separated by process and grade. Lot sizes can vary from 100 – 300 bags. This process helps condition the coffee and achieve a more uniform humidity. They will normally be stored 1-2 months before they are moved. In some cases the parchment will be hand-sorted in the warehouse.|
|Transport and logistics||After the harvest season is over the coffees are moved to warehouses and dry mills in Addis. Trucking is expensive in Ethiopia. The coffee trucks must pass a local ECX checkpoint where its contents are graded and registered as an exportable product, before it continues to Addis Ababa.|
|Warehousing and dry milling||The coffee will sit in parchment in a warehouse in Addis. This is when our team will go to the warehouse and collect the samples from the specific stock lots. It remains in parchment until it is contracted and the destination for shipment is confirmed.|
|Tropiq Lab and quality control||Our team on the ground in Addis personally collect samples which we cup and grade, and measure humidity and water activity. When the specific lot is selected for purchase we register the contract with a shipping destination and approve it for milling and shipment. We are present at the dry mill during processing, grading and bagging, and we immediately take a PSS sample for approval.|
|Container stuffing and transport||We generally try to get our containers stuffed in Addis at the dry mills and moved to the port and straight on a vessel in Djibouti. This way we reduce the risk of delays or mistakes at port that frequently happen when moving coffee by truck for stuffing in Djibouti.|
Tropiq is a Nordic Approach company providing supply chain management services for transparent and traceable coffees direct from origin. Our team in Addis Ababa visit producers, washing stations and warehouses throughout the season. In the peak of the season we are daily in dialogue with the millers and exporters. Having people on the ground gives us early and direct access to samples, first-hand information on coffees, immediate entry to warehouses and timely quality control.