This soft and sweet light roast boasts aromas of grape jelly and amaretto, notes of starfruit and lemon verbena in the cup, and Concord grape acidity. Aftertastes of lime and creamy cashew provide the finishing touch.
Producer: Ato Tesfaye Bekele
Farm: Suke Quto
Region: Guji Zone, Ethiopia
Altitude: 5,906-7,218 | 1,800-2,200 masl
Varietal: Kurume, Welicho
Notes: Grape Jelly, Lemon Verbena, Peach
Coffee for a Cause—Suke Quto School Project
We're partnering with Ato Tesfaye Bekele of Suke Quto Farm to donate $1 from each bag sold to provide essential needs for the Suke Quto School Project.
Suke School was established in 2003 with just one teacher for 200 students in a mud-walled classroom with a thatched roof. Students sat on the floor, learning in dusty conditions during the dry season and muddy ones during the rainy season.
In 2015, Tesfaye poured a cement floor for the school, which helped with cleanliness. However, the school has grown quite a lot in the years since it opened. It now caters to 950 students from six kebeles (neighborhoods) with the help of 13 teachers, two of whom are paid by the community.
Due to the lack of space, students study in shifts. Two new blocks of classrooms and a new set of toilets are under construction now. The school has classes for grades one through eight; those who pursue their education beyond grade eight face many challenges. At the least, they will have to walk many miles to the nearest high school. This is particularly challenging for young girls who want to continue their studies.
We are donating $1 from each bag sold to help provide the following essentials for Suke Quto school:
Water pump: There is no well and no pump at the school, so 950 students have no access to water during school hours.
Desks: There are not enough desks for all the students, and the desks that they do have are run-down.
Living quarters for teachers: Teachers currently live in the mud building constructed for them when the school opened. They share a kitchen and must contend with rodents and snakes in their living quarters.
Lab equipment: Teachers do not have chemicals and equipment to practically demonstrate science lessons.
School supplies: 57 sets of books, 5 blackboards, 5 bookshelves, tables and chairs for teachers, and more.
Helping to improve communities in coffee origin countries does not happen overnight. It can take years before you see an impact. But the Suke Quto School Project is proof that long-term commitment pays off. We are proud to support Tesfaye's dedication to his community by donating $1 from each bag sold of this coffee to help with Suke Quto's essential school needs.
Ato Tesfaye Bekele is one of the people who put Guji specialty coffee on the map. “All my time and energy are placed into the beans that I harvest and process,” he says. When Guji zone was dominated by cattle farmers, he sought new ways to make coffee popular.
At his job in Natural Resource and Environmental Protection for the government of Ethiopia, Tesfaye was responsible for the Guji and Borena zone. From 1997 to 1999 Guji was terrorized by large bushfires that destroyed 5,000 forest acres. Tesfaye had the responsibility to rebuild and find new ways to conserve the area.
“After the fires, locals returned to the lands to change these into agricultural fields. They started to produce teff and maize.” Tesfaye could not stop people from returning to these deforested lands to rebuild their livelihoods, but he could provide an alternative. “I came up with the idea to replant the forests and also add coffee trees to enhance diversity.”
Tesfaye rented a truck and distributed coffee seedlings among the community. “People started to ask me how long it would take before this crop starts to yield cherries. I answered, ‘four to five years’. They gave the seedlings back to me after hearing this." Disappointed by this lack of faith, Tesfaye reserved a small piece of land and started a coffee seedling nursery with government money.
Tesfaye appointed several managers to overlook his nurturing ground, but all found the job unappealing because of years without tangible results. So he resigned from his job and became a full-time coffee farmer. After his first harvest, the community that first rejected the idea returned to Tesfaye. “I am very proud of this idea because all the farms you see today in Guji are inspired by the Suke Quto Farm.”
Tesfaye focuses on environmentally friendly coffee and on the economic growth of the community. Suke Quto Farm collects cherries from 171 neighboring outgrowers and generates 200 seasonal jobs. He has also initiated a community project that aims to renew local schools. Through donations raised by importer Trabocca, Tesfaye built a new school building in Kurume and is now working on improving the school in Suke village.
About the Process
Preparing honey process (aka pulped natural) coffees at Suke Quto is a 24-hour race to the finish. Everything needs to be done within this time frame. The cherries that are meant for pulped natural processing have priority.
Pickers deliver the cherries at Tesfaye’s station and floaters are immediately separated from quality cherries. Then, the pulping machine removes the skin and reveals the mucilage-covered parchment. Another round of floater elimination occurs, and parchment is divided into grades 1 and 2.
The Grade 2 is processed as a washed coffee. “Within the pulped natural process, I only use Grade 1 coffees,” Tesfaye explains. He reserves a few drying beds and instructs his employees to spread the parchment thinly. A thickness of one centimeter suffices. This ensures that all coffee beans dry evenly.
After 15 to 17 days the parchment leaves the beds to rest in Tesfaye’s warehouse, the last stop before milling.