In March of 2019 we featured three coffees produced by women lead coffee projects from around the world; Sumatra, Peru and Ethiopia. These spectacular coffees have incredible stories to tell about the women responsible for their creation.
Produced by The Ketiara Women’s Cooperative, Central Aceh Province, Sumatra
Ketiara Co-Op members picking coffee cherries.
Ketiara has been our primary offering from Sumatra for many years. Its classic syrupy body and low acidity are highlighted by spicy, earthy and stone fruit flavors. Flavors like these are only possible through careful plant husbandry and impeccable application of the traditional wet-hulled process. This fastidious care is undertaken each year by the almost two-thousand members of Koperasi Pedgang Kopi (KOPEPI), also known as The Ketiara Women’s Cooperative.
Though Ketiara has its roots in the 1990’s, the cooperative was founded in 2009 with thirty-eight original members. Ketiara is the only women-lead coffee cooperative in Indonesia. TheChairwoman, Ibu Rahmah, has been with the organization since its inception, carefully guiding its development. In 2011, the Co-op attained Fair Trade Certification and now includes only small, independent farm members. The current geographic area they farm comprises over 836 hectares. A shade canopy and companion planting of staple food crops is found throughout the Co-op, along with a broad diversity of wildlife including the endangered Sumatran tiger, elephant and orangutan.
The coffee varieties cultivated at Ketiara are little known outside of Indonesia and include Tim Tim, Bergendal, Sidkalang and others. Once picked, the coffee cherries are wet-hulled. The wet-hulled process is unique as it involves simultaneously removing the fruit and the hull surrounding the coffee seed. Once stripped, the seeds are then dried in the sun. Because of its heavy body and low acidity, this coffee is quite versatile. Even at our light roast treatment this coffee is a great choice for those who drink their coffee with milk or cream.
The Ketiara is a part of our Origin Certified(TM) Program and has been certified at origin by Control Union Certifications B.V. as having been produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers as we’ll as having been certified Fair Trade at Origin by Fairtrade International (FLO).
Produced by Las Damas de San Ignacio, Cajamarca, Peru
Luzmila Feliu, Sales and Logistics Coordinator for COOPFASI
The Gato Negro is grown high up in the Andes Mountains along the northern most border of Peru. This shared equity cooperative was formed in 1969 by a priest named Francisco Cuentas and ten coffee growers. The Co-op now includes just under four hundred farmers who work together as the Cooperativa Agraria Frontera San Ignacio (COOPFASI). Women comprise a majority of the membership and they are locally known as Las Damas de San Ignacio.
In 2016, COOPFASI designed a loan distribution program. This program supports members with land improvement, livestock husbandry, home renovation and local craft production. They have also built a computer lab open to all members. Women serve as board members, managers, quality control evaluators as well as producers.Tenets of gender equity and the empowerment of women remain central to their cooperative mission.
This coffee is a go for dark roast lovers. Our roast profile for this coffee celebrates super smooth, dark roast character with tons of chocolate flavor. It is versatile enough for all brewing methods and it is great straight or with milk.
Asnaketch Thomas is Ethiopia’s only female coffee grower, miller and exporter. Her farm is located high in the Amaro Mountains, a region characterized by beautiful bamboo forests and abundant waterfalls. At her mill she has the capacity to produce natural processed as well as fully washed coffee. Cherry selection and her attention to every detail from sorting through processing elevates her coffee to grand stature and year after year her coffee displays its characteristic heady profile.
This natural process Amaro Gayo has a plush aroma with fruit flavors of blueberry, blood orange and dried cranberry along with spicy qualities of mace and cacao. It is great in the press-pot and also makes for a hefty single origin espresso.
Asnakech’s pioneering work as an agricultural leader in Ethiopia has involved her commitment to help establish an advocacy program for other women coffee growers. The group she helped to establish group is called the Ethiopian Women In Coffee Association (EWiC). You can learn more about the EWiC and their involvement at the 2017 World of Coffee Budapest Convention here.
In 2018, Asnakech’s coffee farm and coffee mill were destroyed during tribal warring on the border of Sidama. Acres of her coffee trees were lost. Her husband was shot and her Farm Manager was killed. Through sheer conviction, Ansakech has been able to hold onto the farm, rebuild the mill and Amaro Gayo continues to produce. In spite of the trials she has endured we are all hoping for another great harvest in the upcoming year.
This coffee is part of our Origin Certified(TM) Program and has been certified at origin by the USDA as having been produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.
Monsooned Malabar coffee is a Geographical Identification Certified Product (GI Certified) that is unique to the South-West shore of India called the Malabar Coast. Monsooning is a processing method in which green coffee is exposed to the high humidity conditions present during the monsoon season. Throughout this process, the coffee undergoes complex changes and new aromas and flavors are unveiled. The highest grade is Monsooned Malabar – AA Super Grade produced at Aspinwall Coffee in Mangalore. This refined degree of processing is the brainchild of once nuclear physicist, now green coffee importer Dr. Joseph John of Josuma Coffee.Aspinwall has been processing green coffee since 1867. The AA Super Grade was first realized through Dr. John’s direction in 2000 and was given its formal name in 2001. The resultant cup is supremely smooth with qualities of sandalwood, dark chocolate and nut. Monsooned Malabar boasts the lowest acidity of any coffee.
Inside the gates of Aspinwall Coffee, the monsooning process begins by sorting and selecting AA grade coffee cherry which is spread out on concrete patios and sun dried. The coffee is then hulled, sorted and stored until the onset of the monsoon season. When the monsoon hits from June through September, the beans are spread out beneath tile roofed, open walled structures where they are raked at regular intervals. When exposed to the high atmospheric humidity, the beans absorb the moisture and expand. In this vintage photograph of the drying yard at Aspinwall, you can see coffee being raked out to sun dry prior to monsooning.
The monsooning process was first developed in the mid 20th century as a way to emulate the organoleptic effects of transporting coffee in the hold of a wooden ship. This “natural” monsooning process which was once commonplace, was effectively eradicated when steel hulled cargo ships became ubiquitous in the early 1900’s.
After hulling, the beans are mechanically sorted by a high tech Spectrum Color Analyzer. Once the monsooning process is complete, they are subjected yet again to mechanical sorting. During this second stage of sorting forty to fifty percent of the monsooned beans are rejected. After the mechanical sorting is complete the beans are hand sorted numerous times, or “garbeled” as it is called, to achieve the AA Super Grade.
The beans are vigilantly raked and turned over many days. During this phase the beans are absorbing monsoon moisture. They are then bagged and stacked in windrows at which point the beans swell. The spreading, sorting and re-bagging is repeated up to three times until the coffee beans acquire a golden hue and a moisture content of 14.5%.
Here the final product is being bagged for export. The entire process comprises many months of careful attention. Monsooning is the most time and labor intensive coffee processing method in the world.