Israel Degfa - Adola & Ana Sora
Israel was born on a coffee farm near Sidamo, Yirgalem, and his parents were both in coffee in different ways. His mum sold coffee at the bus station and his dad was a farmer. This is where he found his love for coffee. He studied primary school in Yiralem and went to high school and college in Addis Abeba.
In 2013 Israel founded the company by Kerchanshe trading company that is named after the nearest town, Kerchanste town (fondly referred to as Kercha). Today he has about 21 washing stations and a few dry-mills. Add to that, the guy is in his 30’s only had the business for few years.
Israel visited us the first year in 2015. Before we were working together, he was the one looking after me, Joanna, when I got sick on a buying trip in Ethiopia, and the rest is history. From that, we have worked together and visited each other every year. With Israel having a private estate it is making it easy to build a close relationship, but also as we share many ideas about sustainability. To say the least, Israel is standing up for the local society and sustainable income for the farmers. I have trust in Israel and his working model and am extraordinarily proud to work with him.
Location: Guji Zone, Oromia region, Ethiopia
Elevation: 1900 – 2350 meters above sea level
Varietals: 11/714 which is a hybrid of local landrace
Bought since: 2016
This is for sure the highest grown coffee we have. Ana Sora is located in the famous Guji region in Yirgalem, on no less than 2350 meters above sea level. The extreme altitude contributes to the acidity in the coffee, but also the sweetness in the coffee for the longer drying time. Drop Coffee has been working for several years with Ana Sora and Israel Degfa. We have seen the process station being built and developed. And off all the process stations we have seen in Ethiopia, Ana Sora is the most advanced and quality-focused one. And you can truly taste it in the cup.
Six years ago Israel started clearing the wild forest to plant coffee plants that are now known as Ana Sora. Israel and his team started teaching local farmers how to grow coffee, so they could expand their crops from only corn, and now there is an abundance of coffee being grown at this high. The coffee trees are tightly planted, with the idea that they could shelter each other from the harsh weather, and all survive, and it seems that they are all thriving today! All the replanting is done with Heirloom 74120 as it is resistant to frost and Coffee Berry Disease.
Most coffee in Ethiopia comes from cooperatives, not private farms. Working with Israels' private farms makes it easier to maintain our relationships and keep in contact with the producer. Up at 2350 meters above sea level, it is difficult to take the picked coffee to another processing station, so Isreal took it upon himself to build their own washing station as well as drying beds, all the way up at Ana Sora. This coffee might be the highest processed coffee you have ever had. Turo is a river that runs along the side of Ana Sora, and where they get their processing water from.
Ana Sora is built up to produce mainly specialty coffee. When we started working with Ana Sora, the coffee cherries were being delivered to another washing station by truck. With bad roads and high altitude, this was challenging, and if it rained it was impossible. We are beyond excited for the process- and drying stations now built and in use at Ana Sora. But also because we are amazed by Israel's processing standards.
The surrounding land of Ana Sora is populated by smallholder farmers who are of Oromo ethnicity and speak mainly Oromo. Israel believes in helping those farmers with education in husbandry and financial assistance. The surrounding farmers delivering to Ana Sora is being paid by cash and all of the payments are logged in the books. To pay cash they have a security house on the farm for all of the money.
Nearby Ana Sora there is a school called Yerba Buleye, which works with the farm to teach the children how to work and farm coffee. Israel also supports an orphanage school in the neighbouring village.
Installing and building 18 fermentation tanks, steady drying tables and pulping process creates a lot of work for people in the Ana Sora area. All of the workers are registered and covered by the rainforest certification.
Location: Guji Zone, Oromia region, Ethiopia
Process station: Adola
Elevation: 2100 meters above sea level
Varietals: 11/714, 74110
Bought since: 2015
At Adola, local farmers are delivering their freshly picked coffee cherries to the washing station, most of the farmers only have 1 to 2 hectares of land. The days they are not delivering coffee, many of them are working at the washing station. Most of the coffee being delivered to Adola is organically produced, but not everything.
Israel has been traveling to other coffee origins, such as Brazil, where he has been inspired in ways to improve coffee processing. Isreal is always investing in better systems and putting better protocols in place at his washing stations. We want to support Israel Degfa's work on sustainability with the farmers aiming to get them out of poverty through coffee and he is producing some really stunning coffees that we are more than happy to buy. Adola is one of four of his washing stations where the producers are being certified and given a second payment, based on the premiums.
When you visit Ethiopia, what you remember the very most is all of the children. With a fertility rate of 4.14 children born per woman, there are indeed children everywhere.
Although public education is free at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels in Ethiopia, only about 60% of the children go to school. Approximately 2.6 million children of primary school age are not in school, of which 43 percent are boys and 57 percent girls. Only 25 per cent of secondary school-aged children are enrolled in secondary school. Traditional gender norms, a high burden of domestic work, especially for girls, long distances to school are some of the barriers to education. Many of the out-of-school children are from pastoralist, internally displaced or refugee communities (Unicef).
An entire 10% of the profit of Israel Degfas company, Kershanse, goes into a non-profit sustainability company called Nakala. With Nakala, Israel is exclusively doing sustainability projects, such as clean water supply and electricity instalment, but also building roads and other urgent needs for the community. The NGO is controlled by the local government.
Through the NGO, Israel has also invested in schools within the local communities. At Adola, Israel has built a school for the children living in the area.
As we visited in 2018, the year the school was ready built, but the government had not been able to supply the furniture to the school as planned so the school was totally empty inside. We decided to buy all of the furniture for the school from Drop Coffee. In total there are about 150 children going to school today. In the year to come, we bought educational books and learning materials for the pupils.