Town: Sheda village
Farm: Assefa Estate
Farmer: Assefa Dukamo
Variety: Ethiopian Heirloom
Meet Assefa Dukamo
Assefa is a mountain of an Ethiopian man. Standing well over six-feet tall, he is a presence to be reckoned with. His unrelenting work ethic and contagious drive inspires everyone around him to excellence, which is easily evident in the communities where he works and in his own 100+ hectares coffee estate.
Assefa takes his responsibility to his employees very seriously. For example, during a recent national shortage of physical currency, he couldn’t withdraw any money from his account to pay his workers. Rather than have them go without, he called some friends from other coffee mills, borrowing the necessary cash to pay employees on time.
Some 460 km to the southwest of Addis Ababa, we find the Kaffa zone. Here wild Arabica coffee flourishes in the volcanic soils of the forest understory, high on the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
The Kaffa region was once dominated by spreading rainforest. But when coffee prices declined, farmers turned to other crops, and to grow those crops, they began destroying the rainforest until the jungle had been reduced to a bare 3% of its original area.
However, there is a large-scale conservation project in operation in which the last wild stock of rainforest coffee is being carefully preserved and cultivated. Approximately 30 co-ops harvest and market this coffee to specialty markets, and over 40,000 people are seeing a boost in their income as a result. Furthermore, in 2010, Part of the Kaffa province was officially recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and in 2012, lions were photographed there for the first time.