Ethiopia - Bench Maji Gesha Gizmaret Natural
"Upon grounding, the coffee has an aroma of strawberry jam, mango, passion fruit with mild winey aroma. At first sip, passion fruit, fruity tropical fruit as the main notes with grapes emerging as it becomes cooler, strawberries, peach at the later end. The flavour is solid and compact."
Bench Maji is one of the lesser known coffee producing region. Hyped up by the Adam and Rachel Overton, seekers of Gesha has been exploring the area in pursuit of Gesha that is naturally grown in the wild at the area. Long before the existence of Gesha Village the coffee processor, Bench Maji Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union has been around in developing small holders and assisting them in coffee production and export.
For years, private label coffee processors has been buying these uniquely distinctive coffee from Bench Maji for such low price and has been selling under the umbrella origin of Ethiopian Heirloom with zero traceability back to the region of origin. The idea of this coffee union is to put a mark for coffee originating from the region, similar to Guji, Yigarcheffe, Hambela and many other well known and highly sought after coffee from Ethiopia.
The idea is to change the power structure and give Bench Maji farmers the necessary skills and knowledge for the betterment of their livelihoods as well as putting Bench Maji on the Map. It’s a very long process as small holders has minimal business and negotiation skills as well as the right platform for export and to ensure the farmers being valued and being paid accordingly. Ensuring the sustainability is as important that the farmers grow in the future.
The Coffee Union now has 8022 smallholders in its umbrella and 22 others cooperatives. With an annual output of 13 million tonnes of green bean per year. This includes wide variety of quality that is produced in the region under the arm of the Union. Its operation is similar to what we see from the Coffee Union across Kenya.
Cherries are purchased through membership between the farmers and the union. Across Bench Maji, 22 processing centers has been created over the years in supporting its 8022 members in to sell of its cherries during harvest. The Union provides support for local farmers in the post harvest management where cherries is graded and sorted accordingly. There on farmers are paid on the spot by the processing centres.
Coffee is processed at the washing station before it is further pre-cleaned, magnetic separation, screen size sorting and grading, colour sorted and manually hand picked and finally a grading score is given for specific lot. The final activity is done at its main factory in Addis Ababa. Quality Certifying Certificate is issued.
What we have here is a coffee of a Wild Gesha variety that is produced mainly in the Sheko District. The name is given after the Sheko people whose homeland is located in this destrict near Dimma. The district is located in the remaining extensive natural forest of Ethiopia. It is located in between two mountain, Mount Bokol and Mount Gurafeda. The Gesha produced are mainly from the wild where the production are being managed by the Gizmaret cooperative which is also the members of the Union. Farmers usually had to camp out in the wilderness during the harvest season as the coffee produced grows deep in the wild with close to zero human intervention.
After the cherry has been picked, it is sent to Gizmaret processing station where it is sorted and processed. The riped cherries is dried on African raised beds for 3 to 4 weeks. Upon reaching at 12% moisture, the coffee is then hulled and sent to Addis Ababa for grading and prep for export.
Variety : Gesha 1931
Altitude : 2100 masl
Process : Natural
Origin : Sheko, Bench Maji