The kebele (meaning community) of Worka Chelbessa is located in Gedeb, which is the southernmost part of the Gedeo region.
For the last decade, the area of Worka Chelbessa has become well known for producing spectacular coffees, which is why coffee producer Negusse Debela wanted to invest in this area when he established SNAP Specialty Coffee in 2008.
In 2017, Negusse started operating his first site in Worka Chelbessa, but quickly expanded in 2019 by buying another washing station a few kilometers away in a small sub area of Worka Chelbessa called Danche.
The two sites, run by Negusse and his team, execute immaculate washed and natural processed coffees, like this natural lot from the Danche site.
Negusse Debela has not been in the coffee industry long. Nugusse is known in Ethiopia as a computer guy, running a successful computer part import company. While coffee does not seem like a natural leap, Nugusse was inspired on trip to Minnesota where at a cafe he had a pour-over that for him was an epiphany.
At that moment he realized the potential of coffee in his home country and upon his return he got right to work. Nugusse started off by touring coffee processing sites throughout southern Ethiopia to understand the farming and processing better. From that initial tour, Nugusse was determined to set his company SNAP on a course to be one of the best quality exporters in Ethiopia.
To do this Negusse started by hiring Abenezer Asafaw, an energetic young coffee professional as his quality and coffee manager. Negusse, with Abenezer by his side, has since bought land for SNAP to process coffee themselves, but have also started managing processing sites in Nensebo, Yirgacheffe, and Guji. In early 2019, SNAP finished the final touches on their own export dry mill, giving them full control of their product and quality.
Berry Jam, Red Fruits, Syrupy
Coffee cherries are laid out in thin layers and dried on raised beds for approx 15-21 days depending on weather. During this time the coffee cherries are constantly turned throughout the day to ensure even drying. During the initial drying all under-ripe cherry is sorted out.
Yirgacheffe is famous for putting washed coffee on the map in Ethiopia decades ago. People fell in love with the floral and citric profiles that the washing process brought out in the coffees of Yirgacheffe, and almost instantly this small town became famous for its coffee.
Southern Ethiopia, and Yirgacheffe in particular, can get very confusing when figuring out the geographical areas and names. Yirgacheffe is actually the name of a small town, AND the name of a small wordea (district). However, the name Yirgacheffe also became synonymous for coffees coming from a much greater area than just the town or the woreda. Today, Yirgacheffee coffee is mostly from the political boundary area called the Gedeo Zone (named after the Gedeo ethic group). Notably though, a very small amount of coffee labeled as Yirgacheffe comes from the Oromia region that borders the western edge of Gedeo. The Gedeo Zone is broken down into 7 woredas; Dilla, Dilla Zuria, Bule, Wenago, Yirgacheffe, Kochere, and Gedeb.
Gedeb is the southern most woreda (district) of the Gedeo Zone, and in comparison to other areas, coffee is somewhat newer to this area. Many farms here have only been growing coffee for one or two generations, and much of the coffee is only 20-30 years old. Farms in this area tend to be slightly larger than in the northern part of Yirgacheffe, but are still relatively small- averaging around 1.5 -2 hectares. (However a few larger farms that are 5-20 hectares do exist.)
The Gedeb woreda is home to the coffee producing kebeles (communities) Worka Chelbessa, Worka Sakaro, Banko Dhadhato, Halo Hartume, Harmufo, Gedeb Gubita, Gedeb Galcha, Banko Chelchele, and Banko Gotiti.
Photos courtesy of SNAP Specialty Coffees