Producer: Nano Challa Cooperative -- 723 farmer members.
Lot : #11
Region: Gera, Jimma
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,200 m.a.s.l.
Varieties: JARC Selections & Indigenous Landraces. In particular JARC Selection - Bishari variety 74110 is popular in the area.
Harvest: November- January
The Genji Challa washing station first processed coffee in the 2018/2019 coffee season, and is the second coffee site operated by the famous Nano Challa Cooperative. Hailing from the southwestern district of Gera, Nano Challa is known for being one of the first organizations in the region that challenged what to expect of the quality and profile of the coffees from here.
To further highlight the unique quality in this part of Gera, the Nano Challa cooperative keeps many individual batches of coffee separate from each washing station they operate. This often creates dozens of lots from the beginning to the end of the season. This particular selection, is lot #11 from their Genji Challa site, and comes from coffee harvested from the higher elevations and later in the season.
Like most coffee cooperatives, Nano Challa, was formed by growers coming together to pool their resources in an effort to differentiate their product and find a better market. To do this, the Nano Challa cooperative was founded in 2004, with just 25 members. From the start, the members of the cooperative knew that a higher quality product was one of the keys to their mission as a group. While the growers knew this fact, it wasn't until 2010 that this idea of producing significantly higher quality could take form.
In 2010, Nano Challa became part of a coffee project funded by an NGO named TechnoServe. TechnoServe started by holding training sessions on farming, quality coffee production, and other topics for many cooperatives in the southwest of the country. After the success of those early sessions, TechnoServe funded the building of washing stations, not only for Nano Challa, but for dozens of cooperatives in Jimma, Gera, and Illubabor in Southwestern Ethiopia. These washing station were a revolution for this area, and gave cooperatives the ability to sell washed grade 1 coffee, instead of the historically low quality and low price fetching natural grade 5- that most of the cooperative members were producing before.
Since 2010, many of the cooperatives that were a part of the TechnoServe project in southwestern Ethiopia, are not only producing a higher quality, but many have become some of the most well respected and famous organizations in the entire country for the quality of their coffee. In 2016, with a vastly growing market for this higher quality coffee, a few of the cooperatives that were a part of the TechnoServe project, including Nano Challa, came together to form the Kata Muduga Farmers Cooperative Union. With the forming of the Kata Muduga Cooperative Union, this meant that the cooperatives could come together for marketing and exporting their coffees. The benefits from this meant the cooperatives could grow to include more and more farmers. Since 2016, many new cooperatives have joined the Kata Muduga Farmers Cooperative Union, but also many of the original cooperatives have expanded their operations and grown in membership. Notably, in 2018/19 the Nano Challa Cooperative finished building their second processing site, named Genji Challa (sometimes also called Nano Genji) to accommodate their growing membership and demand for great quality coffee.
Floral, Peach, Red Fruit, Tea
This lot from Genji Challa is brimming with the characteristics we love from the southwestern coffees of Ethiopia. There is a medley of fruit tones that range from peach -to red fruits and brighter tropical fruits. In addition to the fruit notes, there are unmistakable floral and citric notes that are the backbone of the profile. With a bright but balanced acidity, a light juicy mouthfeel, and impeccable sweetness, this is an Ethiopian coffee that can be used for any type of brewing to create a great cup.
The Genji Challa site utilizes a *Penagos pulper and de-mucilager for producing their washed coffee. In this method ripe cherries are pulped and immediately go through the de-mucilaging chamber on the Penagos, which pushes the coffee across a metal grate that removes all but a tiny amount of the mucilage coating. After this step, the coffee is soaked overnight in clean water to dissolve any remaining mucilage and improve cup quality. After soaking, the coffee is dried on raised beds for 9-14 days depending on weather.
The washing stations built by TechnoServe were designed to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Primarily, TechnoServe built these sites with eco-pulpers (de-mucilagers) and systems that utilized substantially less water than older washing stations in Ethiopia. The water that is used in processing goes through filtration done by vetiver grass and then goes into a specifically design holding area where the water evaporates more quickly than other designed systems. This system as a whole limits the post- process water seepage and runoff - and limits the impact on streams and rivers nearby.
*Penagos, and other machines often called eco-pulpers or de-mucilagers, are designed to take off the mucilage of the coffee using a limited amount of water (but they still use a fair amount water.) Most of the water savings from eco-pulpers comes from not putting the coffees through an intensive washing process to remove the mucilage. This washing process often uses hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water each day.
Jimma is one of the zones in southwestern Ethiopia, under the large Oromia region. In the 1800's JImma was one of the most important Kingdoms in the area and would of course later become part of the country we know today as Ethiopia. What is today the town of Jimma, was also one of the largest trading markets in the country, and the town itself was considered an education center for different studies. This rich history of this town and region continues to this day, with Jimma having one of the largest Universities in all of Africa dedicated to research. The research in Jimma is especially focused on agriculture, and being Ethiopia - has a particular focus on coffee research.
Gera, which is one of the most western woredas (districts) of Jimma, and was also one of the Kingdoms of southwestern Ethiopia a little over a century ago. It is in the intact forests of Gera where wild coffee can still be found, and the lush environment and high elevations have made Gera a place of focus for new coffee farms producing high quality. (It is also known for producing incredible honey.)
Coffee farmers in Gera tend to have on average 2-3 hectares of land - but much larger estates, that are even a part of cooperatives can be found. Unlike coffee producers in Sidama, Guji, or Yirgacheffe, farms in Gera tend to mostly be what is known as semi-forest coffee production. In this production system, the forest canopy is pruned back, and the under-brush is cleared for coffee. While much is cleared for coffee in this production system, semi-forest production does maintain a fair amount of plant diversity and healthy upper canopy. (and is certainly better than many of the alternatives.) These types of farms can be found around the houses of coffee producers like you would see in southern Ethiopia, but it also very common for them to be stand alone farms away from the farmers homes.
Kata Muduga Farmers Cooperative Union