Mustefa Abakeno, a dedicated smallholder farmer in the Jimma Zone of Western Ethiopia, manages an extensive 18-hectare farm located at an impressive elevation of 2,040 meters above sea level. His farm is a testament to the rich coffee heritage of Ethiopia, featuring a diverse array of coffee varieties sourced from the esteemed Jimma research center. Mustefa's coffee processing methods artfully blend tradition and innovation to create exceptional coffee beans.
At the beginning of his endeavour Mustefa purchased a three discs Coffee Pulper, this was used to enable him to process half of his harvest as Fully Washed coffees. The other half undergoes the natural process, where cherries are carefully dried with the fruit pulp intact. However, due to water scarcity and limited fermentation space, the pulped coffee experiences a concise eight-hour fermentation period before being skillfully transferred to drying beds. The outcome of this rigorous process resembles a light honey in flavor. In contrast, the naturals enjoy a more leisurely drying period, taking 24-27 days to reach perfection on the African (raised) beds.
In 2018, Mustefa embarked on his journey as an exporter, benefiting from regulatory changes that allowed him to engage directly with discerning buyers. To facilitate this endeavor, he established the "Beshasha" wet mill, a versatile facility processing both his coffee and that of local outgrowers. These outgrowers, Mustefa's neighbors, collectively oversee land parcels ranging from 4 to 10 hectares.
Mustefa's partnership with the Falcon team in Addis Ababa exemplifies the potential for enhancing coffee quality through direct relationships. This collaboration spans various facets of coffee production, encompassing cherry selection, drying, and farm management. It also streamlines the supply chain, ensuring that a significant portion of the proceeds directly benefits the producers.
In 2021, the addition of agronomist Harun to the Falcon team marked a pivotal moment. Harun's primary focus during the most recent harvest season has been the training and support of Mustefa and local farmers who supply cherries to the washing station. His efforts have led to numerous improvements at the washing station, including the installation of shade netting to protect drying beds during the hottest hours of the day. Cherry selection at the delivery point, tagging day lots for separation, and vigilant monitoring of moisture levels during drying ensure uniform drying before lot assembly.
Mustefa maintains a small field lab, equipped with a high-spec Sinar moisture reader acquired in 2020. This device ensures that all parchment dried in the stations reaches a consistent moisture level before storage in the warehouse. Harun takes charge of assessing and grading dried day lots, categorizing them based on quality and cupping profile. In parallel, he imparts training in good agricultural practices (GAP) to local farmers, with the aim of elevating the quality and productivity of their coffee gardens.
Notably, Mustefa's commitment to excellence extends to infrastructure development. He has constructed a modern warehouse in Agaro, impeccably equipped for milling natural processed coffees. This investment underscores his dedication to refining and enhancing coffee cherry processing to meet the highest standards.
In a significant move during the 2022 off-season, Mustefa acquired four additional purchasing sites: Echamo, Jarso, Badeyi, and Saadi. These sites serve as crucial collection points, where cherries are meticulously selected and purchased from neighboring farmers. The cherries procured at these sites are subsequently transported to the two main processing stations, Beshasha and Kabira, where Mustefa's exacting standards and coffee processing expertise are consistently applied.
This strategic expansion not only fortifies Mustefa's capacity to source exceptional coffee cherries but also reinforces his role as a catalyst for community development within coffee-growing regions. Through these initiatives, he contributes to the economic well-being of local farmers and the preservation of Ethiopia's esteemed coffee heritage.
Mustefa Abakeno's journey remains a source of inspiration, characterized by an unwavering commitment to excellence and an unrelenting pursuit of quality in coffee production. His dedication to innovation, quality, and community support embodies the essence of the coffee industry's ongoing evolution and growth.