A little to the South of Yirgacheffe town, the town of Banco Gotete is surrounded by smallholder farmers, most with plots of less than a hectare. Coffee here is grown as cash crop amongst subsistence crop such as sweet potatoes, mango and avocados, thus representing a small but significant income for farmers.
Whilst not certified, the lack of pesticide use and other chemical interference – the cost being too high for farmers and plots too small to make its use worthwhile – means that most coffee from the region is, in fact, Organic – rather like home grown lettuces. You know they are ‘organic’…but you actually can’t sell them as such.
The local coffee varietal – Heritage Gedeo, is, much like ‘Heirloom’, simply named as a result of coffee trees being inherited with the land, farmed by ongoing generations.
Harvested by hand during November and December, freshly picked cherries are delivered on a daily basis to the local Mill. On arrival, cherries are pulped and then fed into a fermentation tank, where the cherries ferment for 12-18 hours depending on the climate at the time. After fermentation the coffee is fully washed through grading channels and dried on African beds. The parchment is turned regularly and protected from hot sun until it reaches the optimal humidity – at which point it is bagged and rested.