While we take great pride in all the coffees that we bring into our range, and share with our customers, Olke Bire, Ethiopia is certainly a special one, and a coffee we'll remember for a long time to come.
The coffee is named after the man in the photo above, Mr. Olke Bire; a coffee farmer and now washing station owner, located just outside the village of Suke, in the renowned Ethiopian coffee growing region, Yirgacheffe. Until recently, Mr. Bire just grew coffee cherries, and like other farmers in the region, sold them to a local trader at a fixed price, regardless of the quality of the cherries. By participating in a new programme ('One Farmer, One Roaster'), Mr. Bire has been encouraged to take out a small loan to finance his own washing station, allowing him to control the quality of the coffee from the tree, right down to the dried green seeds that we purchase from him. In this way, Mr. Bire can take control over how the coffee is grown, processed and dried, and most importantly -- how much the coffee sells for.
Through this program, we've been able to identify farmers and washing station owners that are committed to quality coffee production, and reward them financially for their superior quality. Last year's additional revenue allowed Mr. Bire to build a well on his land, cutting out the need for his family to walk a 6km round trip for fresh water.
Though unfortunately we arrived quite late at night, we were able to visit Mr. Bire's farm and washing station on a visit to Ethiopia in February this year, so we were delighted when the samples we took with us turned out to be of such great quality! Of more questionable quality was the local 'hotel' we stayed in that night, resplendent with cockroaches, bed bugs and toilets that flushed onto the floors... But that's a whole other blog post.
This coffee has a wonderfully silky mouthfeel, carrying fresh peach and Bergamot orange sweetness. It was a very small lot, and we secured just 10 bags, so don't take too long to get your hands on this one.