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During a ceremony at the Coffee Quality Control and Inspection Center in Addis Ababa on Saturday, February 25, awards were presented to coffee cooperatives for 27 washed and sun-dried coffees of exemplary quality. A panel of professional cuppers from North and Central America, Europe and Ethiopia served as the international jury in this competition which featured high-quality Ethiopian coffees produced by smallholder farmers and marketed through unions. Coffees of over 65 cooperatives from five unions—the Sidama, Oromia, Yirgacheffe, Kafa Forest, and Tepi Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Unions—were represented in the competition.
Willem Boot, co-founder of ECAFE Foundation, which organized the competition together with ACDI/VOCA, explained the background of the ECAFE Gold competition, stating that Ethiopian coffee unions exemplify the three core values of ECAFE: full traceability, sustainability, and, “last but not least, quality, which is the best guarantee for success in the international marketplace.” He then presented awards for the winning coffees in the washed and sun-dried categories.
For the second year in a row, the highest scoring finalist coffee in the washed category was the coffee submitted by Kello Cooperative of Yirgacheffe Union. Kello’s washed coffee exhibited “a beautiful aroma of fresh flowers and berries, a texture like silk, and a delicate acidity,” said Mr. Boot, calling it “a true exemplary Messiah of Ethiopian coffee.”
|Naturally processed and washed Ethiopian coffees|
|The sun-dried coffee winners||The washed coffee winners|
|1||Hama from Yirgacheffe (92.5)||Kello of Yirgacheffe (90.6)|
|2||Kenteri from Oromia (Jimma type) (91.3)||Watadara of Sidama (90.1)|
|3||Shanta Goba from Sidama (91)||Gerbicho Lela of Sidama (88.2)|
|4||Wotona Bultuma from Sidama (90.8)||Halona Gelma of Sidama (87.7)|
|5||Shilcho from Sidama (90.3)||Nurakurate of Sidama (87.1)|
|6||Konga from Yirgacheffe (90.1)||Shilcho of Sidama (86.5)|
|7||Titira from Sidama (89.8)||Titira of Sidama (86.2)|
|8||Gerbicho Lela from Sidama (89.6)||Hafursa of Yirgacheffe (86.2)|
|9||Adado from Yirgacheffe (89.6)||Bokaso of Sidama (86.1)|
|10||Kampi from Oromia (88.1)||Wicho of Sidama (85.8)|
|11||Setamo from Sidama (88)||Bale Kara of Yirgacheffe (85.3)|
|12||Kello from Yirgacheffe (87.9)||Tigil Fire of Tepi Union (85.2)|
|13||Bale Kara from Yirgacheffe (87.2)|
|14||Michiti from Kafa (86.7)|
|15||Seneso from Oromia (85.1)|
Particularly unique to this auction were the 15 specially selected and processed unwashed varieties from the Yirgacheffe, Jimma and Sidamo regions. “This second ECAFE Gold competition has again proven that natural coffees from Ethiopia present exemplary flavor profiles rarely found in other coffee origins,” commented Willem Boot. In the sun-dried (unwashed) category, the Yirgacheffee coffee entered by the Hama Cooperative of Yirgacheffe Union won for its aroma of fresh flowers and berries, silky oily texture and floral end notes with lemon, fully ripened mango and vanilla.
These winning coffees were selected from 31 washed and 35 sun-dried coffees during an initial round of judging in a national competition last week. Mr. Abraham Begashaw, head of Coffee Quality Control and Inspection Center, described the lengthy, thorough competition process which involved a total of 2,300 cups of coffee, 21 cuppers, 5 roasters, 5 inspectors and samplers, and 10 pickers, to ensure that all coffees participating in the competition were Grade 1 and that the winners were worthy of being submitted to the internet auction. He also expressed appreciation for the nice flavors of sun-dried coffees and quoted the admiration of the cuppers for the exceptional quality: “If this coffee could have been kissed, I would have kissed it!”
The 2006 ECAFE Gold Cooperative Coffee Competition was organized jointly by ECAFE Foundation and ACDI/VOCA. ECAFE Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization whose mission is to assist subsistence coffee farmers with the production and marketing of rare and exemplary coffees, selected the volunteer cuppers who donated their time and expertise to make the competition a success. ACDI/VOCA (locally known as VOCA-Ethiopia), an international NGO which has been working with Ethiopian coffee cooperatives and unions through USAID-funded programs since 1999, provided technical support for the competition through its own staff as well as US volunteer Kelly McVicker, who worked with the Coffee Quality Control and Inspection Center staff to oversee the sample taking, sorting, labeling, and roasting of the coffees. “Farmers, cooperatives, and unions have appreciated the significant importance of quality,” said VOCA-Ethiopia Country Director Werqu Mekasha. “And consumers, roasters and importers are for the first time assured that these high-quality coffees are traceable to their origin at the cooperative level.”
President of Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association Hailu Gebre Hiwot thanked ECAFE foundation for honoring the best producers of Ethiopian coffee, and particularly the Yirgacheffee coffee whose unique qualities he identified and began marketing internationally over 45 years ago.
The ceremony concluded with remarks on behalf of the State Minister for Marketing, congratulating the winning cooperatives and thanking ECAFE, the international judges, and ACDI/VOCA.
Immediately following the award ceremony, members of ECAFE Foundation and the international judges will travel with union managers and staff from ACDI/VOCA to the Yirgacheffe and Sidama regions to present awards to several of the highest ranking cooperatives in the competition.
The 27 winning coffees, of which 17 lots are Certified Organic or Certified Fair Trade Organic, will be marketed internationally at the 2nd ECAFE Gold Internet Coffee Auction in May 2006. During the first-ever internet auction of Ethiopian coffee in 2005, in which the 26 winners of last year’s cooperative competition were marketed, the average price obtained was US $3.22 per lb ($7.08 per kg), with the highest at $6.50 per lb ($14.30 per kg).
For information on pre-registration and samples for the upcoming auction of ECAFE Gold Ethiopian Cooperative Coffees, please visit the ECAFE website at www.ecafefoundation.org.