This is the third year that we are buying coffee from Israel Degfa, but the first time we are taking in a natural processed coffee from any of his farms. The coffee from Ana Sora represents a lot of time and energy working at the farmers gate in Ethiopia; not only that, but this coffee is the only one which we have ever bought from a private estate in Ethiopia.
About Ana Sora
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.
Ana Sora contains no less than 150 hectare of producing coffee. It is located on a high altitude of 1900 to 2350 masl in Yirgacheffe, in the Goji region. It is far up in the mountains and Ana Sora is difficult to get to by car. The local commune could not finance the building of a bridge on the road up to the farm, so Israel built a bridge with his team and paid for it by the company Kerchanshe. That is how Israel is, he fixes things and looks after his staff and production.
The farm covers 250 hectares, only 150 of which are currently producing coffee; however, it is estimated that the remaining 100 hectares will be in full coffee production for the next harvest starting in a few months.
The surrounding land of Ana Sora is populated by small holder farmers who are of Oromo ethnicity and speak mainly Oromo. Israel believes in helping those farmers with education in husbandry and financial assistance. He feels this is the only way to produce sustainable coffee in Ethiopia.
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 in 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.
The natural process
Ana Sora is situated alongside the river Turo and the farm is surrounded by forest land, with many springs that are feeding into the Turo. The farm currently only produces naturally processed coffee. However, in the future the farmers will take advantage of the water source and the planned increased production capacity to begin producing washed coffee too.
Cherries are hand-sorted from unripe and overripe cherries before they go into floatation tanks, where the cherries are covered with water. Any cherries that float are removed. Whole, ripe cherries are then dried in the sunshine on raised African drying beds, which are laid out on hessian cloths for about 15–18 days depending on the weather conditions. The cherries are covered with plastic or shade nets during the midday heat and at night.
The natural process means that the beans are left to dry in the cherry after it is picked. This is a tricky process to do well, as the beans need to be turned over for a consistent and even drying. If some cherries are not dried it will give a moldy flavour to the cup as well as over fermented flavours. But when it is done well, it gives a sweet cup and a bigger body. In the case of Ana Sora, the natural process is what enhances the blueberry mousse character in the coffee.
This private farm is owned by Israel Degfa, a second generation coffee grower from Ethiopia.
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 highschool and collage 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 no less than 21 washing stations and a few dry-mills. Add to that, the guy is 31 years old and only had the business for 5 years.
Drop Coffee and Israel Degfa
Israel visited us the first year in 2015. A year later he is the driver looking after me, Joanna, when I got typhoid fever on a buying trip in Ethiopia. From that we have worked together and visiting each others every year. Obviously we are a tiny buyer to all of Israels 21 washing stations, but coffee buying is about relationships, shared quality goals and trust - and in that we meet and are important to each others.
Israel's visit to us in 2017, giving a presentation on his work at his several farm.
Invited to Israel's home and families home on lunch and Ethiopian coffee ceremony in 2017.
With Israel being 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 a trust to Israel and his working model and am extraordinary proud to work with him.
Farm: Ana Sora
Producer: Israel Degfa
Varietal: Indigenous wild varietals
Area: Guji zone
Nearest town: Yirgacheffe
Founding year: 2013
Altitude: 1,900 – 2,350 m.a.s.l.
Farm size: 250 hectares, of which 150 hectares are coffee.
Flavour profile: The coffee is sweet and round reminding a lot of blueberry mousse, with notes of blueberry, sweet lemon and papaya.
Drop Coffee Israel Defga box last year, signed by our staff to the man himself of course