Exploring West Arsi: An Emerging Powerhouse in the Ethiopian Coffee Scene.
In the landscape of Ethiopian coffee, attention often gravitates towards regions known for their established reputation—Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Harrar. However, away from the spotlight, in the heart of the larger Oromia region, lies West Arsi—a locale exhibiting a quiet but steady rise in the global coffee scene. The catalyst for this ascendancy? None other than the driven Negusse Debela. Today, we dive deeper into West Arsi's vibrant coffee environment, highlighting the origins of our latest offering, the Refisa coffee.
Unearthing West Arsi's Potential
West Arsi, situated around 400 km south of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, boasts a unique combination of geographical and climatic conditions conducive to exceptional coffee growth. The region's high altitude (1,800 to 1,970 m.a.s.l.), nutrient-rich soil, and well-distributed rainfall create an environment that cultivates coffee with a distinctive character—bolder acidity and nuanced complexity—features that set it apart.
The Essential Role of Smallholder Farmers in Coffee Cultivation
Smallholder farmers are the backbone of the global coffee industry, and nowhere is this more evident than in West Arsi. They play a pivotal role not only in preserving biodiversity but also in driving the regional economy and maintaining the cultural fabric of coffee-producing communities.
In Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, approximately 95% of its coffee is produced by smallholder farmers. These hardworking individuals manage farms that average around two hectares, yet their contributions to coffee cultivation are immense. West Arsi's unique geography and climate coupled with these small plots lead to an intensely localized cultivation method.
Among the coffee varieties they nurture are the 1974-1975 JARC Selections, a testament to their commitment to both tradition and innovation. Additionally, they preserve and cultivate local landraces which have originated from the neighboring forests, adding a depth of history and uniqueness to the region's coffee output.
This diverse cultivation practice by smallholders leads to a plethora of taste profiles as varied and rich as the region itself. Each bean tells a story of the land, the climate, and the farmer's dedication, making every cup of coffee from West Arsi a sensory journey through time and place.
The dedication and expertise of these smallholder farmers ensure that West Arsi remains not just a producer of coffee but a vital player in preserving the legacy and future of coffee globally.
An Up-and-Coming Region with Deep-Rooted Traditions
Nensebo, the woreda (district) located within West Arsi, offers a tantalizing hint of the treasures within the region. Historically sold as a Sidama coffee, it has recently been making a distinct name for itself, capturing the attention of coffee aficionados around the world.
While West Arsi may not be a widely recognized name yet, its potential is vast. The promising future of this region is further amplified by the tireless work of visionaries like Negusse Debela, who, inspired by a chance encounter with an exquisite pour-over coffee, recognized the latent potential of Ethiopian coffee. Today, he partners with these smallholder farmers, ensuring that the traditions and innovations of West Arsi are known worldwide.
Negusse Debela: The Driving Force
Negusse Debela, originally known in Ethiopia for his career in the tech industry, found his calling in the world of coffee during a trip to Minnesota. Recognizing Ethiopia's untapped coffee potential, he returned home, immersing himself in understanding coffee farming, visiting processing sites, and eventually founding SNAP. His commitment to elevating Ethiopian coffee didn't stop there. He took over the management of various processing sites, including Nensebo in West Arsi, and established SNAP's own export dry mill.
Introducing Refisa: A Testament to West Arsi's Quality
At the heart of West Arsi, SNAP operates the Refisa processing site, managed by Negusse Debela. The coffees from this site, grown by the hardworking farmers from the communities of Refisa, Roricho, Bulga, and Solena, come together to create a brew that speaks volumes of the region's potential. Our Refisa coffee, a proud product of these collective efforts, presents a unique flavor profile that perfectly encapsulates the distinctive characteristics of West Arsi, offering enticing notes of honeydew melon, lemon verbena, and white tea.
The world of coffee, much like the regions from which it originates, is in a constant state of evolution and growth. With its unique characteristics, West Arsi presents a new frontier in the realm of Ethiopian coffee. As we introduce the Refisa coffee, Tectonic Coffee takes pride in being a part of this journey.
To gain a deeper understanding of the Local Landraces and JARC Selection Varieties used in our Refisa coffee, we invite you to explore our STORIES page, where we delve into these varieties in more detail.
With Tectonic Coffee, you're not just trying a new coffee—you're embarking on a journey into unexplored corners of the global coffee landscape. Embark on your coffee adventure with Refisa today!