Ethiopian Coffee – the birthplace of coffee, and a very distinctive taste.
The original home of the coffee plant, coffee arabica

More than 1,000 years ago, a goatherd in Ethiopia’s south-western highlands plucked a few red berries from some young green trees growing there in the forest and tasted them. He liked the flavour – and the feel-good effect that followed. Today those self-same berries, dried, roasted and ground, have become the world’s second most popular non-alcoholic beverage after tea.

Fair Trade coffee Farmers in Ethiopia
Fair Trade guarantees a minimum a living wage and access to credit at fair prices to poor farmers organised in cooperatives. These fair payments are invested in food, shelter, health care, education, environmental stewardship, and economic independence. Fair Trade promotes socially and environmentally sustainable techniques and long-term relationships between producers, traders and consumers.

Khat, the (narcotic) alternative income.
The rise in poverty level among Ethiopian coffee farmers has developed into another unexpected problem. Many farmers have abandoned coffee and started growing a more profitable crop: khat, a leafy narcotic often mentioned as the region’s version of moonshine. Khat is chewed legally by millions of people in the Horn of Africa and Middle East.
Unlike coffee, khat bushes are drought and pest resistant. A farmer would be forced to abandon his coffee crops if he could no longer afford pesticides. Khat also grows on less water and less time than coffee. When chewed for a long time, khat has another powerful draw: it makes people feel less hungry.

The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU)
Ethiopia’s Oromia Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union (OCFCU) aims to help small-scale coffee farmers take advantage of the Fair Trade coffee market, the viable alternative trade strategy. OCFCU was established in 1999 in order to help farmer families. OCFCU returns 70 percent of its gross profits back to the Fair Trade cooperatives, in order to help coop members.
Coffee farmers would prefer to work their own way out of the current crisis, which is deepening each day. According to Tadesse Meskela the General Manager of OCFCU, Malnutrition is seen in coffee areas. We have a plan to establish societies to help them save, then to use the money for when they are short of cash to buy food [during the growing season] when there is no harvest.
Fair Trade coffee helps to provide living wages to the farmers, and up to three times as much income as the average coffee producer. This income will help farmers provide for their families, increase their quality of life and allow them to continue working on their farms.
Fair Trade represents a bottom-up approach, respecting the rights of people to make their own decisions and thus respecting their dignity and cultural traditions.

Robert Harris sells 100% Fair Trade certified Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee here in NZ. It’s bought directly from Oromia Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Union. Available in Supermarkets.

Put briefly, it doesn’t taste like your average coffee brew. “Ethiopian coffee can be described as medium-bodied and full of flavour. From good lots, you get a tangy, pungent brew with a lingering floral-almost perfumy-aroma.”
If it sounds exotic, it’s because it is. And the best Ethiopian beans are counted among the finest in the world.
Scott Pepler- Master Coffee Blender

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Team kiwi 09 member Paul Golding from Toby’s coffee shares his insights into Ethiopia,  the home of coffee. Click here