Producer: Kolla Bulcha Farmers Cooperative
Region: Gera, Jimma
Elevation: 2,000 – 2,100 m.a.s.l.
Variety: Bishari 74110, Other JARC Selections, and Indigenous Landraces
Flavor Notes: Vanilla, orange, blackberry, honey, lemon candy
Kolla Bulcha Farmers Cooperative was established in 2017, and is comprised of 267 smallholders who deliver ripe red cherry to local wet mills from the nearby mountainsides.
TechnoServe, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to create market-based solutions to poverty, has invested in more than 45,000 smallholder coffee producers in Ethiopia through the Enhancing Market Efficiency and Resilience for Growing Ethiopia’s New Coffee Economy (EMERGENCE) project. Kolla Bulcha is one of 45 cooperatives to receive assistance in the form of technology, education, market access, and washing stations - which 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.
Kolla Bulcha Farmers Cooperative is a member of the larger Kata Muduga Farmers Cooperative Union, which was established in 2016 for cooperatives in the area to join forces to market and export their coffees. These unified cooperatives are redefining the coffees from this area.
A note about spelling...
This coffee has been marketed in consuming countries for several years under the name "Kolla Bolcha." ASCI has confirmed with Kata Muduga leadership that the correct spelling is "Kolla Bulcha." They realize that consistency is key in marketing a coffee year over year and have no issue with packaging continuing to be spelled as it has been historically.
The Kolla Bulcha Cooperative 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.
Thoughtfully designed ...
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 small amount of 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 which 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.) 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 done in channel can use hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water each day.
Bishari 74110, Other JARC Selections, and Indigenous Landraces
One of the most widely-used varieties in Ethiopia, 71140 was approved by the Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) in 1979 because of its coffee berry disease (CBD) resistance and high-yield potential. It was developed from the offspring of a mother tree from the Bishari village of the Metu province in Illuababora. The variety is known for its floral and citrus flavor notes.
Additionally, this coffee will include other JARC selections that have been bred for disease resistance and yield, as well as indigenous landraces, which are varieties native to specific localities of Ethiopia.
Gera, Jimma, Ethiopia
Jimma is one of the zones in southwestern Ethiopia, under the large Oromia region. In the 1800s, Jimma was one of the most important kingdoms that would later become part of the country of Ethiopia. What is today the town of Jimma, was once one of the largest trading markets in the country, and the town itself was also considered an education center for different studies. The 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.
Coffee farmers in Gera tend to have on average 2-3 hectrares of land - but much larger estates, that are even a part of cooperatives can be found. Unlike coffee producers in Sidama, Guji, or Yirgacheffee, 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 system, semi-forest production does maintain a fair amount and 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 farmers' homes.