Suke Quto Honey
Peach Jam, honey, lemon rings
alt: 1,800-2,200 MASL
producer: Ato Tesfaye Bekele
process: Honey: Pulped Natural
varietal: Kurume, Welicho
Coffee For a Cause ☕️⠀
We are partnering with Ato Tesfaye Bekele of Suke Quto Farm to give back $1 from each bag of the Suke Quto Honey. The proceeds from sales will provide the Suke Quto School Project with essential needs. ⠀
Changing communities in coffee origin countries does not happen overnight. It takes years & months before you see the impact. But the Suke Quto school project, which started in 2015, is proof that long-term commitment towards communities pays off. Tesfaye's commitment to his community inspires us. ⠀
Ato Tesfaye Bekele is one of the people that put Guji specialty coffee on the map. While the Guji zone was dominated by cattle farmers, he sought new ways to make coffee popular in Guji. “I don’t consider myself to be a coffee farmer, because coffee is everything to me. All my time and energy are placed into the beans that I harvest and process.”
“I come from a coffee-producing family, so during my childhood, I started to work with coffee early on”, Tesfaye continues, “At first, coffee did not have my interest. The labor was hard, and the days were long. But after several years of study and other work I returned to my home in the Shakisso woreda, Guji. I found myself in coffee again”.
Tesfaye coffee story
Tesfaye started to work in Natural Resource and Environmental Protection for the government of Ethiopia. He was responsible for the Guji and Borena zone. From 1997 to 1999 Guji was terrorized by large bushfires that destroyed 5000 forest acres. A true crisis for the Guji people that often remained clueless about the cause of the fires. Tesfaye had the grand responsibility to rebuild and find new ways to conserve the area.
“After the fires, locals returned to the lands to change these in agricultural fields. They started to produce teff and maize, for instance.” Tesfaye, as a responsible government official, realized that he could not stop people from returning to these deforested lands to rebuild their livelihoods. He needed to give people an alternative. “I came with the idea to replant the forests and also add coffee trees to enhance diversity. The local community agreed to my proposal and they asked me to provide the coffee seedlings.”
Tesfaye distributed large amounts of coffee seedlings among the community. He rented a big truck and started to divide this evenly. “People started to ask me how long it would take before this crop starts to yield cherries. I answered, ‘four to five years’, they gave the seedlings back to me after hearing this”. Disappointed by the lack of faith among his community, Tesfaye reserved a piece of land. Upon this small plot, he started a coffee seedling nursery with government money. Tesfaye wanted to prove that his idea to preserve Guji’s forest was the best alternative for the Guji people.
Tesfaye appointed several managers to overlook his nurturing ground, but all found the job not appealing because of years without tangible results. He could not find eager people, so he resigned from his job and became a coffee farmer. After his first harvest, the community, that first rejected the idea, returned to Tesfaye. “First, they run away, but later they came back and asked me to provide coffee seedlings. I am very proud of this idea because all the farms you see today in Guji are inspired by the Suke Quto Farm.”
Tesfaye focusses on environmentally friendly coffee and on the economic growth of the community, Suke Quto farms collects cherries from 287 neighboring outgrowers and generates 200 seasonal jobs . he has also initiated a community project that aims to renew local schools. Through donations raise by importer Trabocca, Tesfaye has built a new school building in the neighboring village Kurume and currently in the Suke village.
About the Process
Preparing the pulped coffees at Suke Quto is a 24-hour rat race. Everything needs to be done within this time-frame. No room for slacking. The cherries that are meant for pulped natural processing have priority. Tesfaye plans these production days well ahead during harvest.
Pickers deliver the cherries at Tesfaye’s station and floaters are immediately separated from the quality cherries. Then, the pulping machine separates the skin and reveals the mucilage covered parchment. Another round of floater elimination occurs, and parchment is divided by grade 1 and 2.
The Grade 2 is processed as a washed coffee. “Within the pulped natural process, I only use Grade-1 coffees.”, Tesfaye explains. He reserves a few drying beds and instructs his employees to spread the parchment thinly. A thickness of one-centimeter suffices. This ensures that all coffee beans dry evenly.
After 15 to 17 days the parchment leaves the beds to rest in Tesfaye’s warehouse. The last stop before coffee milling.
“An educated person will grow, and grow the country”, says one of the priests who is part of the Suke school committee.
Suke School was established in 2003 with just one teacher for 200 students and a thatched roof, mud-walled classroom. Community members raised money and helped build the first teachers’ quarters on the premises, using traditional wood and mud building methods. The first blocks of classrooms in the school were also built with traditional mud walls and floors; While this is a sturdy and proven building method, rooms tend to have fewer windows and can be dark inside. In addition, the dirt used to build the walls – and especially the floors – eventually start getting kicked up into the air, making it difficult to stay in the room, particularly when each room holds over 80 children.
The community constructed their own school, but funds were soon exhausted, and the building and sanitation were in bad shape. They sat on the floor, learning in extremely dusty classrooms during the dry season and very muddy ones during the rainy season. This became the starting point of the Suke Quto School Project.
In 2015 Ato Tesfaye, the owner of the Suke Quto farm, initially helped the school with a cement floor in the existing block. This helped with some of the cleanliness issues. However, the school has grown quite a lot in the years since it began. It now caters to 950 students from six kebeles (neighborhoods) with the help of 13 teachers, two of whom are paid by the community.
Due to the lack of classrooms, students study in shifts. The need for new classrooms is very apparent, and something that is being addressed with the construction of two new blocks of classrooms and additional to a new set of toilets is also being built on the premises. The school has classes from grade one to grade eight; Anyone who wants to pursue their education beyond grade eight faces many challenges. At the least, they will have to walk by foot many miles to the nearest high school. This is particularly challenging for young girls who want to continue their studies.
Suke Quto school is in need of the following essential
- Access to clean water – there is no well and no pump at the school, so 950 students have no access to water during school hours.
- Desks – There are not enough desks for all the students, and the desks that do exist are quite rundown.
- Living quarters for teachers – Teachers currently live in the first mud building built for them when the school began. They have a shared kitchen and share their residence with rodents and sometimes snakes. Since most of these teachers are college-educated from other parts of the country, they find the living conditions difficult.
- Lab equipment – Teachers do not have chemicals and equipment to practically demonstrate the lessons they teach their students
School books: $49,95 per set of books (57 sets needed)
Desks: $56,98 per piece (300 desks needed)
Blackboards: $142,47 per blackboard (5 blackboards needed)
Bookshelves: $142,47 per shelve (5 bookshelves needed)
Tables and chairs for teachers: $142,47 per teacher (5 table/chair combinations needed)
Water pump at Suke school: $2849 in total.
Changing communities in coffee origin countries does not go overnight. It takes years and months before you see the impact. But the Suke Quto school project, which started in 2015, is proof that long-term commitment towards communities pays off. We are inspired by Tesfaye to his community. we are proud and eager to donate XX profits of this coffee to help essential school needs.