Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dehab's Ultra Sustainable Farm in Kaffa, Ethiopia

I was impressed with the emphasis on sustaining community and mother

Dehab on her farm.

 that Dehab has invested in her large coffee farm in the Kaffa zone of Ethiopia. In this blog, I'll share few things, as I suspect most readers share a love of our mother earth and things that are healthy and life-giving. 

The coffee trees on Dehab's farm are growing under giant, old-growth rainforest trees in way that can only be described as magical to foreigners like us arriving from urban, agro-chemical territories. Her land is in the buffer zone of the UNESCO protected Kaffa Biosphere. Walking through the farm you feel like you're in the movie Avatar, only all the low-growth is coffee! 
Coffee growing under old growth trees.
Dehab has developed a modern honey/ bee-keeping farm which has multiple objectives: bees help the organic growth of the coffee trees. Honey is a good second income-earner for Dehab's business. She uses the honey-farm to teach bee-keeping to men and women, because she knows that the women will be allowed to do the bee-keeping business by themselves, because it is something they can do close to the home. Earning money from honey will mean that the woman has to spend less time cutting down trees to make charcoal to sell for money, which will help save the forest. Regenerative agriculture at its best, I think!

While we were walking through the farm, one of Dehab's friends, Dr. Mitzi, who

is a remarkable, well-educated, well-traveled woman with long experience with the United Nations. Dr. Mitzi is also an herbologist, and she was showing us the herbs that are growing among the groundcover plants and telling us the medicinal properties. 

Then, when the entire group (about 30-35 people) was together in the center of the farm (approximately), Dr. Mitzi had us all be still for 2 minutes of silence to listen to the earth and the sounds of the forest. For those who wanted to join, she demonstrated some yoga poses. We were silent and hear the sounds of the forest.

Pause to hear the forest.

After that, we hiked to the top of a nearby hill and Dehab pointed out an area of about 30 ha. that she does not farm so that the animals and plants are all natural there. It's like a forest reserve within the reserve. You could hear the moisture dripping, see the moss hanging from ancient branches and we happened to be there on a beautiful sunny day. Magical!

To top it off, at the end of the hiking, we enjoyed the entire Ethiopian coffee ceremony, (starting with roasting the green beans), live and close-up, while we ate lunch at the offices of the farm.

In the midst of a rainforest.

Molesh Demisse lead the coffee ceremony.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Courier Delivers Coffee and Suprises in Portland Oregon

Courier Coffee in Portland, Oregon is one of those cafes that seems to be steeped in the culture of the city where it "lives". The cafe today is downtown at 923 SW Oak Street, just steps away from the famous Powell's Bookstore. The roastery is in a separate building in another famous Portland neighborhood: SE Hawthorne St. 

The cafe is ecletic, unpretentious and "granola" and at the same time surprisingly wholesome and classy. The sign for the cafe is a hand-painted board leaning against the sidewalk window, but the french pastries are baked fresh, in the cafe, every morning from scratch by the owner. He even makes his own condensed milk!

The cafe space is shared with a Japanese ex-patriot who is an expert in a sumptuous ice treat called Kagigori, known in English as Japanese shaved ice. She has the authentic machine for transforming the condensed, sweetened milk into a beautiful dish of cream, cold sweetness drizzled with fresh fruit and hand-made fruit sauce.

Joel Domreis, Couriers founder, owner, roaster and baker, rides his bike about 4 miles every day to bring fresh milk to the store. You often see his sturdy, blue cargo bike parked right outside. 

There is a record-player playing Ethiopian jazz music for the clients as they file in throughout the morning, many of them regulars. One gentleman with many piercings has a trusty bulldog in tow. A father with 6 year-old child enjoy the baked treats.

We can't forget to mention the great coffee! Courier is one of the loyal buyers of our Agasaro, women-grown coffee from Rusizi district, Rwanda. Joel roasts it to a perfect medium-light roast. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Paying Women's Premiums - A Little Goes A Long Way

We'd like to share how Artisan’s women's premium program works in Rwanda. 

Basics of how the program operates

·        Cooperative agrees to pay $0.136/lb of the green coffee price to the women’s group. The president of the women’s group signs the green contract. We believe we may be the only importer where every contract at origin is signed by a woman representing the women’s group, (along with the signature of the president of the cooperative, who is typically male, but not always).

·        Artisan wires the women’s premium to the cooperative’s USD account separate from other coffee payments. The cooperative’s leader is required contractually to send Artisan a receipt showing the deposit to the local currency account of the women’s group.  

·        The leaders of the women’s group agree on the amount, timing and process for distribution of the cash to its members. This is approved at an assembly of all group members. If the amount is small (< $1,000) they may decide to use the funds for a community project instead of direct cash distribution to each member. Documentation of the distribution of funds is sent to Artisan and always available to roasters.

 2017 General Assembly Celebration: Click here to view the YouTube video

2018 General Assembly Celebration: Click here to view the YouTube video

Click here to read our 2018 blogpost about the day the premium is distributed.


Symbolic check given to Ejo Heza - $7,920 premium for the 2018 season.