February's Roasters Choice Subscribers will be drinking a coffee from Kennisa, Ethiopia.
Kennisa is the Oromifa word for bee and this undoubtedly reflects the efficient and communal nature of this collective of 350 micro-entrepreneurs. The farmers within the collective have produced a fine example of a washed Ethiopian coffee. This is a cup bursting with stone fruit, floral notes, and a rounded citric acidity.
The Kennisa collective sits at 2000-2100 metres above sea level and this high altitude provides a cooler temperature, prolonging the growing cycle and helping to develop a more complex, mature cherry. Once picked, eco-pulpers and drying racks are turned by hand and then modern equipment is used to remove the parchment layer and grade the coffee by density and size ahead of export.
The collective is supported by the Kata Mudunga Union farmer’s co-operative - a community that provides significant technological and financial support to local producers.
Kata Muduga Union
Named after the what is widely recognised as the birthplace of coffee, The Kata Muduga Union was founded in 2016 by 35 farming cooperatives and spans five districts in the Jimma zone, south-western Ethiopia. Within the Union close to 20,000 farmers work across 60,000 hectares of land at altitudes between 1800-2300 masl.
The Union exists to improve the life standard of member farmers by increasing household income – it consistently pays its farmers some of the highest prices in the country. Marketing and administrative training and support is provided, and there is full transparency on both Union costs and the payments returned to producers.
Export-related expenses (transport, materials) make up 5% of the costs and another 5% goes towards the Union’s commission that supports its development. The remaining 90% of export proceeds go directly to the cooperative. Seventy percent of that then goes to members as dividends and the remaining 30% pays for cooperative expenses and social projects including the building of schools, constructing roads and clean water supply.