Trader: Collaborative Coffee Source
Washing station: Dimtu
Micro region: Hambela
Altitude: 2164 masl
Farm Size: 3HA
Harvest Season: November – December
Approx. annual production: 2480
Average production per tree: 400g
Average trees planted per hectare: 2780
Drying notes: Raised beds, 12days
Resting period: 6weeks
SNAP COFFEE are licensed exporters, based in Addis Ababa. Headed by coffee-passionate entrepreneur, Negusse, the company runs, or works in partnership, with three coffee washing and processing stations:
1. Chelelektu, Kochere District, Gedeo Zone
2. Uraga, Guji
3. Nensebo, West Arsi
First, the ECX restored traceability to coffees traded through their system.
Secondly, licensed exporters were given the freedom to sell coffees outside the ECX, giving them the scope to source and develop quality coffee, and pair the right buyer with the right coffee.
Combined with the most exotic and unique cup profiles and thousands upon thousands of not-yet-known coffee varieties, we suppose it is only fitting that the “Queen of Coffee Origins” is as multi-faceted as she is.
ABOUT THE EXPORTER: SNAP COFFEE
The company also own warehousing and processing facilities and their own laboratory in Addis.
SNAP COFFEE has been operating for over ten years as licensed exporters of Ethiopian coffee, but recent changes in the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange (ECX) presented a unique opportunity to enter the specialty market. Previously, standard licensed exporters had to trade coffee through the ECX. Only Unions or producers with over 30 hectares of land could sell outside of the ECX, and only if they had an established buyer. Until 2018, coffees traded through the ECX were stripped of their data, vital information such as farm, region, variety and even water content was lost in the process of combining and dividing lots.
Beginning in 2018, two things happened.
Why do we work with SNAP? While SNAP were one of the few companies who seized the opportunity presented by these changes in the ECX, their entrepreneurial spirit is not what attracted us to this company, rather it is their commitment to specialty coffee. Negusseisan experienced and successful entrepreneur with a passion for coffee, but limited experience in specialty. So, Negusse surrounded himself with the right people, coffee professionals like Abenezer, who understands the value of coffee through long and dedicated experience.
And then there is their commitment to sustainability. SNAP COFFEE invests heavily in education for their outgrowing farmers (those who sell their cherries to SNAP washing stations) through training in processing and cleaning methods. They also invest in waste recycling systems and aim to have the majority of their coffees certified organic by 2019.
HISTORY AND MARKET IN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopian coffees notoriously change the perceptions of coffee drinkers about what coffee can taste like. This is no doubt due to the amazing genetic variety the ‘birthplace of coffee’ boasts; the vast majority of coffee varieties here have yet to be even categorized. This is perhaps why Ethiopia’s coffee sector is so protective, making it one of the most frustrating origins for sourcing. Navigating Ethiopia’s labyrinthine and ever-changing coffee politics make finding trustworthy partners absolutely vital.
The birthplace of coffee is arguably the most challenging place to work in for a coffee buyer. Coffee is not only an important export commodity; Ethiopian locals are also high consumers of coffee, making for dynamic and competitive local marketplaces. Added to this are protective trade laws and policies that sometimes change overnight without warning.
There are three ‘windows’ for buying coffee in Ethiopia: (1) Directly from a private estate that can export their own coffee; (2) From a cooperative that is represented by a union that acts as the exporter; (3) From a private exporter that has a license to buy coffee from the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX).
The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX) was established in 2008 and is a private company made up of both private parties and the Ethiopian government. Initially, smallholders sold their cherries to a ‘collector’, who in turn sold to suppliers/washing stations. Collectors had to obtain licenses in order to buy from their specific areas (e.g. Kochere). They were only allowed to buy from their specific areas.
Once processed by a washing station, coffee was delivered to the auction in Addis and were cupped and graded by the Coffee Liquoring Unity (CLU). Auctions happened every day and exporters had the opportunity to see, but not cup the samples, and together with knowing the coffee’s region, made their purchasing decisions.
In the next version of the auction, which was implemented quite soon after the first, collectors were eliminated, and centralized marketplaces were implemented. Rather than suppliers buying from collectors or specific smallholders, they bought from centralized markets and cherry prices are based on ‘market price’.