Qore, is a privately owned washing station in Kochere, named after the kebele where it is located. They collect cherries from various smallholders in the area which they process as Washed, Naturals or Honeys. The cherries can come from kilometers away in well known areas such as Biloya. Besides producing stand-out coffees they are certified UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. The farmers delivering cherries are registered and entitled to second payments and premiums, plus they have access to training programs on composting, pruning and mulching and other topics focused on increasing quality and yield. The washing station drilled for ground water which is used in the coffee production and by households in the local community.

The altitude is high and the climate chilly. Qore manage traditional wet fermentation, grading in channels by water and drying on raised beds, resulting in a unique character in their coffee.

This coffee is from a privately owned communal wet mill in Kochere (in the Gedeo zone that also includes Yirgacheffe), called “Qore”, named after the kebele where it is located. The washing station is owned by Israel Degfa. Qore means “sharp”, as in sharp as a knife or sharp spikes on plants.

Many of Israel’s washing stations are great simply due to their location and altitude, and he is building on this potential quality by investing in better systems and protocols. In addition to high quality Washed coffees, we also buy improved Naturals, Honey coffees, and shade dried coffees from these washing stations.

Their focus is mainly on specialty, but all washing stations in Ethiopia produce a range of coffees. Every day of production Israel’s team differentiates what goes into the improved and better qualities (Grade 1) from the normal preparation for Grade 2 and Grade 3. He has invested in flotations systems for cherries and systematically separates some of the coffees for better performance on-site. They generally do lot separation based on 150 bags of parchment, equal to 100 bags of greens, but they also do smaller lot sizes, especially for honey, shade-dried or other improved preparations.

They aim at producing five containers each of higher grades Washed and Naturals, and two containers of Honey. They have a separate and designated cherry collection point for higher quality lots, and separate drying space for these and the experimental lots. They also have a small dry mill for naturals and new warehouses for parchment.  They use their premiums to invest in the community through projects providing ground water and electricity for the community, and they support the local church.

In addition to paying premiums for quality, Israel has registered some washing stations as Rainforest Alliance and Organic. That means means some producers earn two premiums, one for the certification and another for quality. They also run agronomy training programs and seek to improve the varieties grown by providing new seedlings to farmers in the process of replanting old trees.

The cherries are brought by surrounding farmers who either deliver cherries directly to the washing station, or to a Qore collection centre in the more remote areas. Farmers are immediately paid a small premium for higher quality cherries/pickings, and most farmers here are registered for a second payment after the coffee is sold with a quality premium.  They produce greater volumes of Washed coffees the first part of the harvest, and Naturals in the later part of the harvest.
We have been working with Israel Degfa for several years, a young business man with a sure and steady focus. When the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) operated in a way that obscured the origins of coffee, Israel was more focused on producing high volumes. However he predicted the eventual opening up of the ECX and several years ago shifted his focus to quality. He hired a separate team dedicated to specialty, and built a dry mill specifically to process specialty and micro-lots. Finally, in 2017, the coffee market in Ethiopia was opened to allow businessmen like Israel to sell directly to importers like Nordic Approach, and Israel was ready with high quality and fully traceable coffees.

Israel runs more than 30 washing stations in Ethiopia, and after several years of working together we have narrowed our focus to a handful of specific regions and washing stations where we know we can expect quality, and Israel gives us priority. We pre-contract and book coffees at the start of the harvest to both demonstrate our commitment,  and to increase our access to the best coffees. With up-front investment, the producers are able to budget and invest more in quality control and improved processing and selection.

Many of Israel’s washing stations are great simply due to their location and altitude, and he is building on this potential quality by investing in better systems and protocols. To maintain quality standards Israel has invested in a modern warehouse and dry mill in Addis. There he has separate areas for washed and naturals, as well as for specialty and for the normal commodity. He also purchased high-tech colour sorters, and built a quality control lab, all to produce and maintain high quality lots.

Every day of production Israel’s team differentiates what goes into the improved and better qualities (Grade 1) from the normal preparation for Grade 2 and Grade 3. Flotation systems separate some of the coffees on-site for better performance. These coffees are assigned a quality team to carefully tend to their processing. They generally do lot separation based on 150 bags of parchment, equal to 100 bags of greens, but they also do smaller lot sizes, especially for honey, shade-dried or other improved preparations. The coffees are separated according to the days and areas of harvest as well as by preparation.

We buy improved Naturals, Honeys, and shade-dried coffees from select washing stations.
About thousand smallholder farmers deliver small quantities of cherries on a daily basis to the communal washing station, or to collection centers in the nearby villages. The average farm size for producers delivering to the Uraga washing station is 2 – 3 hectares, which is larger than the average farm in Ethiopia. These semi-forest farms have red clay soil and coffee grows amongst Kerero, Tikur Enchet, Besena and Berbera trees. Most coffees are organic by default. Organic compost is common, pruning less common. A farmer can typically have fewer than 1500 trees per hectare, and one tree typically produces a quantity of cherries equal to less than 100 – 200 grams of green coffee.
Farmers deliver a mix of local improved varieties like Certo and local Wolisho, plus native forest varieties that have been transferred to family smallholder plots. The varieties are referred to collectively as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a myriad of local native Typica hybrids, plus new and improved varieties based on the old strains.
Harvest and cherry selection Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripe and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing. Israel generally pays a higher price for good quality cherries, normally 2-4 Birr/kg on top of the general cherry prices.
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 36-72 hours. Fermentation is slower at higher altitudes as temperatures are generally lower.
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 6-12 hours before it is moved to the drying tables.
Drying and hand-sorting Parchment is dried on raised beds in the sun for 12 – 15 days. The time depends on the thickness of the layers and temperatures. For the premium grades they will continuously sort the parchment at the drying tables. Coffees are piled up and covered in shade nets or plastic during the hottest hours of the day and overnight.
Harvest and cherry selection Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripe and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing. Israel generally pays a higher price for good quality cherries, normally 2-4 Birr/kg on top of the general cherry prices.
Soaking and pre-sorting The cherries are soaked in water. The healthy cherries will sink, while the diseased and damaged cherries will float and are skimmed off and removed. The cherries will then be moved to the drying beds. Underripe and defective cherries will be sorted out by hand during the first days.
Fermentation When producing naturals the level of fermentation will be determined by the thickness and layer during the first days of drying in combination with temperature. Fermentation is slower at higher altitudes as temperatures are generally lower.
Drying and hand-sorting The cherries are dried in a relatively thin layer at about 3-4 cm the first days. They will build up the layers to 6-10 cm after a few days. The coffees are moved frequently and they will be covered during the hottest hours of the day to protect the cherries from intense sunlight, then again at night to protect against humidity. This will also help improve quality as the coffee is rested and the drying more homogeneous. Drying naturals at these altitudes can take up to 20 days.
Harvest and cherry selection Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripe and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing. Israel generally pays a higher price for good quality cherries, normally 2-4 Birr/kg on top of the general cherry prices.
Soaking and pre-sorting The cherries are soaked in water. The healthy cherries will sink, while the diseased and damaged cherries will float and are skimmed off and removed. The cherries will then be moved to the drying beds. Underripe and defective cherries will be sorted out by hand during the first days.
Pulping and pre grading Red Honey
The cherries are fermented in bags for up to two days, until the mucilage takes on a pink/red hue. It is then pulped by a traditional Agaarde Discpulper. Skin and fruit are removed before the coffee goes to the drying beds with all the mucilage left on the parchment.

White Honey
The cherries are pulped by a traditional Agaarde Discpulper immediately after picking and cherry sorting. Skin and fruit are removed before the coffee goes to the drying beds with all the mucilage left on the parchment.
Drying and hand-sorting Parchments is dried on raised beds in the sun for 12 – 15 days. The time depends on the thickness of the layers and temperatures. For the premium grades they will continuously sort the parchment at the drying tables. Coffees are piled up and covered in shade nets or plastic during the hottest hours of the day and overnight.
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.
Besides the ability to produce great coffees on a good scale, we work with Israel because he genuinely cares  about the farmers. He grew up in a coffee producing area, and he shows great respect for the farmers, both as business partners and as people.

Education
Israel builds schools to support the local communities. He contributes the land and pays for the construction, and ensures access to clean water for the students. The government is in charge of managing the school and paying its teachers, and Israel provides school materials on occasion. Israel has already built schools in Adola, Kercha (Mokonesa and Mokonesa Bulga) and is currently constructing schools in Gelana Gesha and Kilenso Mokonesa. We strongly support education, both in general and in coffee, and we invest in educational projects that help increase yield and quality, and those that prepare the coming generations of coffee farmers for climate change and the developments in the market. Nordic Approach supports Israel’s school projects as part of our buying program which means when you buy coffee from the Boji washing station, you are supporting these school projects too.

Farmer Premiums
In addition to paying premiums for quality, Israel has registered some washing stations as Rainforest Alliance and Organic. That means means some producers earn two premiums, one for the certification and another for quality. Boji and Adola washing stations are both certified organic, and organic certification for Uraga is in process.
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.  

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