It’s only natural that our "friendly" holiday offering this year comes from our dear friends at METAD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aman and Tariku, who are brothers, run what is widely considered the best Ethiopian coffee sourcing in the world. They also own and farm the famed Hambela estate coffee farm, from which we purchase many micro-lots. This lot from Gedeb in Yirgacheffe is from one of the washing stations they own, which has really developed over the years to become one of the highest quality cups in the country. We’ve purchased this exact lot for the last three years and have worked with METAD for six. They are one of our best partners, and every year our staff and customers highly anticipate what the new season of their coffees has to offer. Overall, METAD is a big part of what we do at Onyx, and over 50% of all our coffees from Ethiopia are either farmed or sourced through them. This year is an exciting new step for them, as they’ve built a state-of-the-art dry milling facility just outside Addis Ababa. They’ve strategically built this on a thoroughfare that can take the milled and stuffed containers of coffee straight to the port without getting too caught up in the traffic around the city. This mill has been custom-built to process micro-lots, as well as the FCL (full container load) lots that they export around the world. This year we were able to be some of the first buyers to cup at the new lab, and all the coffees we purchased through METAD this year were processed through the new mill.
The Adinews, Harmony, and Ethiopia’s First Female Pilot
by Dakota Graff
The primary word I’d use when describing the coffees and practices of METAD is harmony. That experience is evident in the cup, with its delicate florals and soft fruit characters, but it moves far deeper than the taste experience of the coffees. Since I’ve been involved with the Adinew brothers, it’s been proven time and time again that they are committed to producing some of the best coffees in Ethiopia, and they uphold high standards of business while doing so. Within our near eight-year relationship, both Tariku and Aman have proven to care deeply about their coffees, and about personal relationships. Tariku Adinew has the gift of hospitality, making me feel at home when I’m halfway around the world, sleep-deprived, and usually over-caffeinated. This hospitality lends to the harmony I experience in their coffees, and the efforts of their family work surpass the experience that buyers have with them and their coffees.
The soil that this coffee is grown in was a gift to Muluemebet Emiru in 1934. Muluemebet was Africa’s first female pilot, and after World War II, she was gifted farmlands in Harar that became a private coffee estate. This ultimately formed the family connection to the land and their harmony with the cycles of coffee production. The Hambela estate is now world-famous for producing the best coffees in Ethiopia, no small part to the commitment of the Adinew brothers to elevate these coffees to heights unknown previously. METAD sets the standard for quality at each washing station they own, adapting practices from all over the world to grow and process coffee to the highest standard. Doing such great and harmonious work in the sometimes dissonant setting of Ethiopia is what sets them apart, and they strive to elevate not only the coffees but the people as well. Over the past few years, they’ve adopted a local elementary school that provides over 400 students with supplies and financial support through Grounds for Health. It’s clear that each action they take in Ethiopia elevates not only the coffees they grow but the people they work alongside. We are honored to continue to work with them each season.
Over the last two seasons, METAD has opened up a state-of-the-art dry milling facility where all of our coffees are milled and prepped for export. This is advantageous for everyone, as the lines can be long at other milling facilities. (and fraught with issues) This has allowed our sourcing program to stay nimble in the last two challenging seasons. The milling facility is located strategically outside of the city, with a direct road circumventing the busy capital of Addis Ababa. From the facility, the stuffed 20-foot containers preferred for coffee shipping can take a quick two-day journey to the port of Djibouti, and thus onward, eventually arriving at our roastery in Arkansas. You can read more about this journey in the transparency section below.
The washed process begins with the coffee cherries being delivered to the washing station. The cherries are inspected, and an initial quick round of hand-sorting separates the defective cherries before placing them into the hopper. They are then funneled to the Penagos pulper, which removes the fruit from the seeds. This is a crucial step to allowing the seed to ferment and become an exportable green seed ready for roasting. After the de-pulping phase, the seeds are then fermented underwater for approximately 12-24 hours. This phase of fermentation is crucial, as the east and microbes are breaking down the stir y mucilage layer found on the outside of the seed following depulp. Once the 24-hour fermentation is complete, the parchment is emptied into the washing channels, where it is agitated with rates. During this step, the water is refreshed to ensure proper aviation and washing is taking place. Once the washing is complete, the coffee is taken to the raised drying tables for sun drying.