Abiyot Ageze and his family grew up in the town of Yirgacheffe. Today, even though he is in the capital, Addis Ababa, for business for much of the year, Yirgacheffe is still the place Abiyot and his family call home.
With Abiyot Ageze knowing the history of Yirgacheffe and the quality potential for coffee there, he decided to buy and build new processing sites in some of the best areas. His two washing stations are located in the kebeles (communities) of Konga and Halo Beriti. His site dedicated to natural coffee processing is near the kebele of Aricha. In addition, in 2017 when the laws in Ethiopia changed to allow for private exporters to be able to legally export traceable coffees, he expanded the scope of what he did by quickly setting up his own export company. The name of Abiyot's company is Boledu, which is a river that runs through Yirgacheffe.
The operations of Abiyot's company Boledu started relatively small, but have grown significantly over the last few years. While the company has grown, it is not the growth that the company talks about first. It is rather their quality initiatives. From shade drying coffee for better self stability, to anaerobic fermentation, and building out their new quality control lab - Boledu is always tweaking their processes and focused on setting up their business for quality first.
Clover Honey, Citrus, Red Fruit, Floral
Once coffee is delivered to the processing site, it is put on raised beds and sorted for ripeness. The ripe coffee cherries are turned throughout the day by hand to ensure even drying. The drying process takes roughly 15-20 depending on weather.
Yirgacheffe - Gedeo
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.
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). Aricha is a kebele (village) located just outside the town of Yirgacheffe to the east.
It is also important to understand that Yirgacheffe is 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), but a very small amount of coffee labeled as Yirgacheffe does comes from the Oromia region that borders the western edge of Gedeo. The Gedeo Zone is broken down into 7 woredas, those are; Dilla, Dilla Zuria, Bule, Wenago, Yirgacheffe, Kochere, and Gedeb.
The Yirgcheffe Wordea (district) is in the middle of the Yirgacheffe coffee producing area/region of Gedeo. The elevation from the town to the east, where Aricha is located, increases dramatically - going from just under 1,900 meters to over 2,300 meters . (With even a few farms with coffee over 2400.)
Farmers in Yirgacheffe, are very small having on average between 1 and 2 hectares - of which around half of their land is planted with coffee. The farms are often classified as "garden" production systems, due to their size and the fact that often these owners are growing other substance crops. Most farmers in Gedeo alongside their coffee grow enset, a type of false banana that is used to make the a traditional bread called, "cocho".
Photos courtesy of Boledu Coffee