Nano Challa is a cooperative and washing station, established in 2009. They were the first washing station in Agaro, set up as part of the Technoserve coffee initiative. This lot is part of a small and carefully curated selection from the cooperatives in the west. They are located in Agaro, close to Jimma. The cooperative has about 500 members from the Genji Chala area. This specific area has recently established a reputation for very flavour-intense and spiced coffees with unique flavour attributes. Before these cooperatives were established, the farmers mostly produced lower grade naturals which were sold as Jimma Grade 5. 

The cherries for this lot are selected from smallholders with less than 3 hectares per farm, mostly from farms located around 2000 meters above sea level. They use Penagos ecopulpers, and barely ferment the coffees. After pulping the coffees are often soaked under clean water overnight before they are dried on raised tables. 

Origin name: Limu
Mill name: Nano Challa
Founded: 2009
Altitude: 2000 masl
Region: Limu
Sub Region: Agaro
Number of farms: 100-200
Farm size: 0.5-3 hectares

Keta Muduga is a union that was formed in 2016 by nineteen cooperatives in Agaro, Ethiopia. These cooperatives were part of the Oromia Union until they formed a new union for themselves. A union is a group of farmer cooperatives united under one company. Farmers form cooperatives in order to own their own washing stations as a group. Washing stations then supply the warehouse in Addis Ababa that is owned by the union. The union is responsible for dry milling, warehousing and exporting. Thus, each farmer is a shareholder of a washing station, and each cooperative is a shareholder of the warehouse in which the dry mills are located. In other words, the farmers own the entire supply chain. This makes transparency a must since each farmer needs to be informed about every price and margin. It is transparent to the point of being public information.

Keta Muduga has grown and now represents 36 cooperatives, exports about 80-100 containers a year and has twenty permanent employees. The union owns 40 washing stations and each washing station is supplied by about 200 farmers, on average. The union was established by the support and consultancy of TechnoServe, so since the union’s formation, operations have been based on best practices, with great attention to quality control, transparency and fair trade. Due to its relationship with Technoserve, the union is also very focused on specialty coffee, and is currently working with Feed The Future in training farmers on harvesting best practices.

Keta Muduga’s relationship with Tropiq began when the cooperatives were still part of the Oromia Union. Ephrem, the General Manager explains his satisfaction with the long standing relationship they have with Tropiq: “They understand cooperatives and unions, they understand the structure of the value chain so they give us decent prices. They know farmers benefit directly from dividends. It makes your job easy when you partner with a company that understands you,” said Ephrem.

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.

Keta Muduga is actively involved in other community support programs. They have built high schools for the students in their community, who previously had to travel a very long distance on foot to the nearest school.

There is a lot of coffee in Ethiopia, and many good lots, but things are not always as straightforward as they seem. What you cup is not always what you get. With most washing stations, this really depends on the relationship to the suppliers, at what stage you draw the sample and the local warehousing and dry milling facilities used.

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.