Tigesit Waqa Natural
Blueberry Marmalade , Toffee , Honeysuckle
alt: 2042 MASL
Historically in Ethiopia, coffee farms are owned by men. When coffee cherries are harvested, they’re transported to nearby mills where they are processed in the order they are received with any other cherries delivered that day. As the depulped coffee seeds are inevitably mixed in the washing tanks and on the drying beds, traceability to the farmer is lost. The resulting coffee can be identified as mill-specific, but the exact farms that contribute to the flavors in the final cup maybe impossible to discover. These industry norms make this woman-owned, single farm lot from Ethiopia a rarity in many ways.
Tigesit Waqa’s eight hectare farm is located 2,042 meters above sea level in southern Ethiopia, near the town of Idido where she grew up. Located in the Yirgacheffe district - a part of the Gedeo zone - the area surrounding Idido has a reputation for producing stunning examples of Ethiopian coffee. Tigesit’s farm is no exception. Having worked in coffee for twenty two years, Tigesit’s experience, attention to detail, and unwavering work ethic allow her to realize her vision of “maximizing coffee production and quality,” enabling her family to be financially secure and ensuring her children’s education.
Growing on the farm are heirloom varieties native to Ethiopia, including Kurume, Wolisho, and Anigafa. The farm itself is organized in a system referred to as “agroforestry,” in which coffee and other agricultural crops are grown together and intermingled with shade-providing indigenous trees. To the untrained eye these agroforests may look untamed, but upon further inspection this balanced approach allows for economical and sustenance providing crops to be grown in partnership with native species while avoiding deforestation.
Once coffee cherries are ripe, they are picked and kept on-site as opposed to being transported to a mill. This pivotal step in the processing of the coffee ensures Tigesit can manage quality and maintain traceability until the coffee is ready for export. The cherries are placed on “raised beds” to dry. The beds themselves are constructed of wood with a layer of mesh fabric. This design keeps the coffee suspended off of the ground, at a height that allows workers to easily rotate cherries for even drying, and permits air to flow underneath and through the bed of coffee. The beds are covered with tarps twice a day. Once during midday when the sun threatens to scorch and tear the skin of the drying cherries, exposing them to mold and pests, and again in the evening, when condensation can cause the drying cherries to reabsorb moisture, prolonging the drying process and increasing the risk of mold.
Exemplary natural Ethiopian coffees feature floral, perfume-like aromas, fruity flavors of blueberries and strawberries, with underlying flavors of chocolate. Unsurprisingly, the terroir of Tigesit’s farm accompanied by her attention to detail results in one of the best natural processed coffees we’ve tasted this year.
From Keffa Coffee, the Importer:
"Tigist Waqo is one of the few women-owned coffee farmers in Ethiopia. She was born and raised in Idido town. She is a mother of 7 children and her husband, Mr. Abraham Azeze, helps during the harvest season. She is producing top quality Yirgacheffe coffee in her 8 hectares land that is her coffee farm. Her vision is to maximize coffee production and quality to allow her to send her kids to school without going through financial difficulties and changing her family’s life."