Duromina currently have two washing stations. These businesses have been financially beneficial for the farmer members and producing award winning coffees. They have some hundred members delivering cherry, plus non-members who sell their coffee to this washing station as well. The members receive a second payment after harvest once the coffee has been milled and graded for quality.
Technoserve is the organisation behind Duromina. They supported farmers to set up the washing stations and create a new cooperative structure. The aim of the project was to increase sustainability and quality in the west, with transparent and environmentally friendly production, and increased premiums for the producers. From the outset they used eco pulpers and built water treatment systems based on Vetiver grass which naturally filters the water from production before it is pumped into lagoons to be absorbed into the earth. They also established farmer training programmes and implemented a traceability system.
We discovered Duromina, and other cooperative washing stations, like Nano Challa and Biftu Gudina, the year they were established. It was clear from the beginning that this would be a different kind of operation. The management is strong and Duromina succeeded in producing high quality coffees from year one. This project has revealed a great new range of coffee flavours not found elsewhere. They were initially part of Oromia Cooperative Union, but a few years ago they established a new local Cooperative union in the area called Kata Muduga.
We currently work with the Sidamo Union in southern Ethiopia and Kata Muduga Union in the west, which represents an area around Agaro Town in Jimma.
Even before the liberalisation of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), cooperatives have always been allowed to sell coffees directly to an international buyer as a fully traceable product outside the ECX. They are always marketed and sold through a Cooperative Union. Generally the name of the Cooperative Union represents the zone and area where they operate. For example, a cooperative in Limu is sold and exported by the Limu Union, In Oromia the Oromia Union, Sidama the Sidamo Union, and so on.
There are some farmers in this area with farms of up to 3 hectares, which is a large farm by Ethiopian standards. However the average smallholder farm size is half a hectare.
Most coffees are organic by default. Organic compost is common, pruning less common. A farmer typically has less than 1500 trees per hectare, and one tree typically produces cherries equal to 100 - 200 grams of green coffee.
Mainly an improved native varietal called 1274, but also a mix of Ethiopian Heirloom, usually native coffee trees from the forest that have been transferred to family smallholder plots.
Post-Harvest Processing - Washed
Harvest and cherry selection
Coffee cherries are harvested by family members, then hand-sorted to remove unripes and overripe cherries before they are delivered to the washing station for processing.
The farmers will be paid based on the current cherry prices in the area that day. The cooperatives will pay the members a dividend as a second payment when the coffee is sold at a premium.
Pulping and pre-grading
A Penagos Eco Pulper removes the skin, pulp and mucilage. This machine removes mucilage without the need to ferment the coffee. After the mucilage is mechanically removed, it is soaked in clean water in concrete tanks for about 3- 10 hours.
Coffees undergo a brief fermentation when soaking due to the small amount of mucilage that remain. White or yellow honey coffees also ferment further on the drying table.
Drying and handsorting
Skin dried and sorted under shade for about 6 hours after soaking. After skin drying it is moved out in the sun and dried about 10 days on African drying beds on shade nets or hessian cloths. Coffees are covered in plastic or shade nets during midday and at night.
Warehouse and Supply Chain Management
Warehousing at the washing station
After drying, the coffees will be packed in jute bags and stored in the local warehouse onsite, separated by process and grade. Lot sizes can vary from 100 - 300 bags. This process helps condition the coffee and achieve a more uniform humidity. They will normally be stored 1-2 months before they are moved.
Transport and ECX checkpoint/grading
The cooperative washing station will deliver the dried parchment to a local ECX warehouse that will grade the coffees accordingly. They will be assigned a grade from 1 to 5, depending on the physical qualities and the flavour profile. The coffee gets a ”label” based on the region and the quality before it’s offered directly to buyers through the cooperative unions.
Warehousing and dry milling
After grading the cooperative unions will in most cases move the coffee to their position in Addis Ababa, where the coffee will sit in parchment. This is when our team will go to the warehouse and collect the samples from the specific stocklots. It remains in parchment until it is contracted and the destination for shipment is confirmed.
Tropiq Lab and quality control.
Our team on the ground in Addis personally collect samples which we cup and grade, and measure humidity and water activity. When the specific lot is selected for purchase, we register the contract with a shipping destination and approve it for milling and shipment. We are present at the dry mill during processing, grading and bagging, and we immediately take a PSS sample for approval.
Container stuffing and transport
We generally try to get our containers stuffed in Addis at the dry mills and moved to the port and straight on a vessel in Djibouti. This way we reduce the risk of delays or mistakes at port that frequently happen when moving coffee by truck for stuffing in Djibouti.
Technoserve measure their success of their coffee initiative based on several factors:
- Environmental sustainability
- Value and quality of the coffees produced and the
- Increase in farmers income.
They implemented Eco Pulpers to save water, and wastewater treatment processes to preserve the local water ways. All cooperative members qualify for second payment. This has so far contributed to a significant increase in income for the local coffee farmers.
The unions are working with hundreds of thousands of smallholders across the country. They give producers technical support, help them with finance, maintain traceability and run sustainability programs like water treatment systems at the washing stations. Many of the coffees are certified Organic and Fair Trade.
In addition to paying premiums for quality, the cooperatives have some washing stations as Rainforest Alliance and Organic. That means means some producers earn two premiums, one for the certification and another for quality. Hunkute and Bokasso, our two primary cooperative washing stations in Sidamo, have both paid out quality premiums in the last few years.