Kokie Washing Station
KOKIE WASHING STATION
The Kokie washing station contains ten fermentation tanks for processing cherries supplied by local smallholder growers. The Gedeo zone, located just outside Yirgacheffe town, offers excellent growing conditions and is well-known for producing traditional ‘Ethiopian’ coffee. The reputation is enhanced by the introduction of Ethiopia’s first washing station in Yirgacheffe in the 1970s. Coffee is generally farmed on a tiny scale in producer gardens. It is intercropped with other subsistence crops such as Enset, a calorie-dense crop lacking vitamins and minerals. This is frequently on a tiny plot of land close to the residence; the area’s urban population is only 7.74 percent.
Wolisho, Dega, and Kudhume are grown in the Gedeo Zone. At least two of these types are produced by the majority of farmers. There is, however, little documentation history on them. It is unclear if they are distinct types or members of a more prominent coffee family. Other zones have these varietals under somewhat different names. Thus a minor variation in spelling is not unusual.
Ethiopia’s genetic variety is informally classified into regional denominations for purchasing – Limu, Djimma, Lekempti, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Harar – with coffees acknowledged as having distinct qualities to each location. Among these locations, there may be a variety of regional varietals, generally referred to as heirloom for convenience of reference, albeit they may not have the same traits as an heirloom plant from another region. This is why there is so much interest in the genetic variety of Ethiopian coffees, although it can be challenging to find out precise details.
Kudhume (Kudhumi, Kurume) is a disease-resistant bean that is popular in the Guji. Dega falls somewhere in the center, with average bean size and tree height, but Wolisho (Walichu) has a greater bean size. The names are derived chiefly from local indigenous trees – Dega is frequently used as firewood and is known for its aromatic qualities (though it might be derived from an Amharic language phrase referring to height and temperature that correspond with its topography). Kudhume relates to the Kurume tree that produces small fruit with a good yield – the coffee varietal displays the same characteristics, and Wolisho resembles the characteristics of the tree too, being larger fruit but an inconsistent yield year after year.
Wet processing was introduced to Ethiopia in the 1970s, with Yirgacheffe being the first wet mill. Coffees have been offered since then, either washed or totally natural, and the push toward honey-produced coffees is relatively new. This innovation is in line with increased agricultural investment and the opening up of Ethiopia’s traceability and buying system, shifting away from the country’s historical reliance on the ECX. The Kokie cooperative has 828 members and joined the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperatives Union in 2002 to enhance their exposure to customers and push up coffee prices.
Cherries are harvested when ripe, then lightly pulped and fermented for 36-48 hours before drying to 11.5 moisture content, which takes 18 days. The Hafursa Waro processing plant features 10 fermentation tanks and 89 separate drying beds for Kokie, providing full lot traceability. Coffee is stored away from the wall and off the floor in their warehouses to allow airflow and prevent mustiness from forming.