June 9, 2015


Travelling to origin is a rewarding experience for anyone in the coffee industry. We travel to origin for many reasons.

Primarily, to connect face-to-face with producer partners and broaden our sourcing tendrils; but more importantly, to deepen our understanding of this dynamic industry we are a part of.

Where better to go to further our knowledge than the birthplace of coffee itself; Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a steady origin on our annual itinerary and never ceases to impress. Coffee is embedded in the culture of the country and has forged strong ties with the people of Ethiopia over its history. Coffee provides a livelihood for one in four people in Ethiopia. It is an integral part of the economy and accounts for 60 percent of export earnings. With the export economy so heavily invested in coffee, Ethiopia finds itself in a precarious position. A slight shift in supply and demand – a decline in production due to a poor harvest or an increase in global excess supply, for example – can considerably affect export earnings and quickly upset this already negative balance of trade.

Nearly 98 percent of coffee grown in Ethiopia is produced by smallholder producers, farming on average less than a hectare of land. The remaining is produced by State owned farms. Approximately 30 percent of coffee produced in Ethiopia is processed using the washed method, with the remaining 70 percent processed using the traditional natural method.

Smallholder farmers deliver their coffee in cherry form to local washing stations during the season and are paid by total weight. Generally there are three harvests during the season; however, this year most of the coffee ripened at the same time, requiring farmers to pick feverishly to ensure all the coffee cherry was picked at optimum colour. When a farmer delivers coffee to a washing station, notations are made regarding weight, farmer details, farm location etc. and at the end of the season the notes will be tallied and farmers will receive payment. For farmers who are not able to reach a washing station, there are collection depots where cherry can be delivered, which is then transferred to the nearest station.

Coffees bound for the washing tanks are pulped using a machine with three disc burrs that are set to a specific grade, to ensure that the skin of the cherry is removed without damaging the bean inside. Once the coffee has been de-pulped, it is transferred to fermentation tanks to break down the sticky mucilage that surrounds the bean and parchment layer. Fermentation times vary between 24 – 36 hours, depending on the weather. Once this process is complete, the coffee is transferred to soaking tanks for up to 10 hours to remove any fermentation residue. The clean parchment is then swiftly and evenly distributed over raised drying beds and left for 10 to 15 days until it reaches the desired moisture level.

Naturally processed coffees are kept in whole cherry form and transferred directly onto raised drying beds, allowing the sticky mucilage to be absorbed into the coffee bean, producing the sweet fruity flavours that natural coffees are renowned for. The drying process for natural coffees takes between 21 to 30 days.

The highlight of this visit was a week spent in the famed growing region of Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia. We have been sourcing coffee from this region for many years, and it is home to some of the best cup profiles in the country. I was disappointed to learn that the current season in Yirgacheffe has been poor, with farmers experiencing significant volume reductions of up to 30 percent. These reductions have prompted upward pressure on the price paid to farmers, and washing stations are paying up to 20 birr (Ethiopian currency) per kilogram of cherry, almost double the price that was paid last season.

Nearly all Ethiopian coffee is traded through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Only cooperatives, unions and licensed farm owners are able to export directly to the international market, so the majority of the coffee that is exported to consuming countries is via the ECX.

Introduced in 2008, the goal of the ECX is to empower farmers and increase financial gain. By centralising the export market, the ECX claim to be connecting buyers and sellers in an efficient, reliable and transparent global commodity market. The problem with this model is that it does not allow for the detailed traceability and transparency that is sought after in the emerging specialty coffee market.

This model also makes sourcing consistent quality and supply through the ECX somewhat hit and miss. Coffees are blended and regional flavour attributes are blurred. Identifiable lots are consolidated and traceability is lost. The ECX have a quality team who grade and cup every lot of coffee that passes through the system. This information, in addition to the region, is the only detail that is offered to potential buyers in the market. Exporters are asked to bid at auction on coffee lots they have not been able to sample and as such, have no assurance as to quality or provenance. It is only after a coffee has been purchased that a sample may be drawn for evaluation and to, ultimately, determine its market potential.

Discussions within the Ethiopian coffee industry suggest that there are potential changes forthcoming to the way the ECX is currently operating, specifically in regards to specialty coffee. These changes may be a few years away; however it has been suggested that authorities are slowly realising that exporting coffee like other agricultural commodities does not promote the effective marketing of Ethiopian coffee.

It seems that the spread of globalisation had hastened since my last visit to the country 12 months ago. This trip included visits to areas of Ethiopia that were previously unknown in the wider industry, where coffee farmers have formerly catered solely to the domestic market. The increase in global communication has facilitated a wave of information, carrying quality and market knowledge to farmers across the country.

It seems that the ECX has attempted to adapt to these developments; however, it is clear the processes in place are inadequate. The lack of traceability and inconsistent quality have caused issues for exporters who are catering to a quality focused market. These admissions are beginning to surface, and it will be interesting to watch the progression of the system over the coming years.

Bennetts have been sourcing Ethiopian coffee for over a decade. Some of our longest standing cooperative and export partners hail from the origin, and we are proud to have established a solid reputation within the Ethiopian coffee industry. While washed coffees have historically had a larger appeal in the Australian market, the recent trend towards fruity natural coffees have seen us begin to import a wide range of natural Ethiopians. This trip has seen us break new sourcing ground, and we are looking forward to exploring these new opportunities.

Ethiopia is a diverse and multi-faceted origin, faced with many challenges but also opportunities ahead, and it is definitely one to watch. Many times during the trip I was told to remember TIA – This is Africa! If you can conceive something happening, it probably will or already has!

About the Author

Guy Wilson is a green coffee buyer and trader with Bennetts. A third generation family company, Bennetts is the leading importer of quality coffees and teas from across the world. Since joining Bennetts in 2008, Guy has travelled extensively establishing partnerships with coffee producers and exporters around the world. He is a certified Q Grader and is an active member of the international specialty coffee industry.

MPM Advertisment


A recycling revolution is underway at Planet Ark in 2018

Save the dates as Planet Ark celebrates its 25th birthday and unveils its plans for 2018. Planet Ark, Australia’s leading environmental behaviour change foundation, has laid out its plans for 2018 and will kick the year off b...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Almond Breeze wants to know what makes you froth

Almond Breeze Barista Blend, Australian baristas’ almond milk of choice, is giving baristas, roasters and cafes the opportunity to decide its new packaging design. By deciding what makes you froth, you could win $20,000 – t...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Are you struggling to understand your business tax obligations?

Find out about free assistance to help you understand your business tax! Last updated: 6 March 2018  If you’re new to business and confused by your super and tax obligations, why not sign up for the Business Assistance Progr...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Introductory Espresso Machine Technician course

Do you have a handy team member in your coffee business that is repairing your espresso equipment but needs some assistance in understanding the technical side of being a coffee technician? This two-day course is designed for n...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Coffee is the hero of the Australian Food Service Industry

Coffee is the hero of the Australian Foodservice Industry… however cafe owners are telling us that they are more focussed on improving their food offerings in 2018. It’s all about getting the formula right and the smart ope...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Countrywide Distributors can help you!

Countrywide Food Service Distributors are the largest group of independent wholesale Distributors in Australia. From Kalgoorlie to Toowoomba, Darwin to Hobart and everywhere in between, our Distributors span the country to deli...
by Cafe Culture Mag


DIGITAL ISSUE 1 – Out now!

You are going to see a lot more from us in 2018! Cafe Culture International are pumping up our digital presence. Via this NEW monthly digital magazine we’ll keep our content fresh and we endeavour to keep you informed and abr...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Piccolo To Go

E. F. I. Established in 2007, Piccolo To Go has evolved from coffee carts, cafes, catering at large events & festivals to ...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cultured Products – Puqpress Automatic Coffee Tamper – White

Puqpress Automatic Coffee Tamper is the latest precision tamping technology that is taking the Australian specialty coffee industry by storm. Our newest self cleaning model eliminates the need for daily cleaning which reduces d...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Castaway Packaging – Helping Roasters Build their Business

The specialty coffee industry has continued to grow, creating more competition and specialised approaches to not only how coffee is sourced and served, but also to how it is packaged. Your packaging is more than just a vehicle ...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Contact Us

Mailing: PO Box 5728, Port Macquarie NSW 2444 Australia Phone: (02) 6583 7163 Fax: (02) 6583 7169 Email:    
by Cafe Culture Mag


FIRESTARTER: A Day of Roasting Lectures with Rob Hoos & Roastress Coops

Equilibrium Master Roasters is proud to kick-start your week at MICE with an Inspirational Day of Roasting Lectures presented by SCA Roasters Guild Education Committee Associates Rob Hoos & Roastress Coops at Proud Mary Cof...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Golden Bean Hall of Fame 2017- Fulvio Pagani of Rio Coffee

The hall of fame is all about acknowledging people and businesses which have made a significant contribution to making our industry what it is today. This year accolades go to Fulvio Pagani of Rio Coffee who is such a deserved ...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Record keeping systems: digital or manual?

Having a good record keeping system for receipts and record keeping is vital…   Just starting out in business and trying to decide whether or not to invest in record keeping software? It’s crucial to have a strong record k...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Sean Edwards discusses the Top 10 Global trends in the Café Industry

I personally get to see the best of the best traveling the world visiting thousands of cafés yearly in my role of Head Bean at Café Culture International. I spent several months this year in London, New York and San Francisco...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cultured Products – Cappucine – Smartfruit

Smartfruit is an all-natural fruit smoothie concentrate. Shelf stable and non-GMO, they can be used to make juice or healthy smoothies. Being 100% natural they contain no added sugar, preservatives, or artificial colourings at ...
by Cafe Culture Mag


What receipts should you keep as a small business owner?

A good record keeping system can make tax time much easier!   Is that shoebox marked ‘receipts’ under your desk beginning to overflow? Keeping and managing your receipts can be tedious, but as someone who’s self-employed...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Zest Coffee: Flavour creation in PNG turns to Golden Bean Success

Sitting amongst the anticipative crowd we listened attentively as the medal winners of the 2017 Golden Bean Awards were ceremoniously announced. You see, of all the coffees we submitted, our Project Raggiana Lot 1 was a very sp...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Tilly Edwards

Media  The youngest member of the Cafe Culture team, Tilly has been learning and growing within the company for a decade, and is now officially full time. She is a very vibrant and driven professional, with her lifetime of exp...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cultured Products – Ordermentum – Online ordering on time

Ordermentum is a complete business tool for coffee roasters that handles everything from orders to payments and production. Ordermentum helps thousands of businesses get their orders and payments in on time, every time and elim...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Connor Fox

Business Development Manager Connor is an energetic café industry professional who has worked on the front lines of the coffee industry in the United Kingdom for several years. Constantly striving to find the next BIG thing i...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Australasian Cafe School Upcoming Roastery Cafe Model 5 day course

THE AUSTRALASIAN CAFÉ SCHOOL Gain a comprehensive understanding of the retail café industry and the confidence to open your own successful café. The Australasia Cafe School offers a 5 day course for new and existing business...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Get Roasted Coffee – Online store – Featuring award winning ONA Coffee Finca Deborah

Cafe Culture International are pleased to announce the launch of #GetRoasted coffees. This new addition to will feature award winning and outstanding coffees from the Pentair Everpure Golden Bean Coffee Roaster...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Justin Metcalf explains how to keep your cold brew safe

Whether its microbial or pathogen you need to know what this all means to the safety of your cold brew. The sources of microbial contamination can be your water, the containers you are using, your equipment that you’re br...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cultured Products – Nuvia – A natural sugar replacement

Nuvia Sweetener is a sugar replacement created with the extract of the naturally sweet stevia plant. We source pure, high-quality stevia which has a clean, sugar-like taste. Our delicious, signature sweetener has been specifica...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Leading Japanese food retailer, Sushi Sushi has today (11 Jan) announced it will again be available for players, media and tennis fans to enjoy at Australian Open 2018. For the third year in a row, Melbourne’s favourite sushi...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Pimpin’ Profiles with Anne Cooper

So. you’ve read the books, the websites, tried to follow the information & example profiles presented, & you still can’t produce the results you’re after! Having the awesome opportunity to regularly visit roasters...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cultured Product: Uniwell4Cafes

Uniwell 4 Cafes Uniwell POS Australia has been providing high quality, purpose built Point of Sale terminals to Australian hospitality venues for over 15 years. The Uniwell4Cafés system combines the latest compact ePOS technol...
by Cafe Culture Mag

Di Bella

A Glamorous Di Bella Farewell

Café Culture International had the pleasure to attend the farewell of Di Bella Coffee creators Phillip and Gianna Di Bella in Brisbane in November this year. The night was a magnificent display of emotions and gratitude combin...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Cultured Product: Bondi Chai

Bondi Chai… Bondi Chai, Australia’s most awarded chai latte, cuts through the frustrating “chai haze” for cafe owners and chai drinkers alike. It’s quick and easy to prepare and its award-winning taste and tex...
by Cafe Culture Mag


China Cafe Study Tour 2018

Attend the #1 Largest China Cafe Expo Over 6 halls of business and competitions Cafe Culture International and Cafe Culture China present: The Expanding Chinese Cafe Market Study Tour Shanghai Hotelex Coffee Expo Where: Shangha...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Issue 47 now online

Cafe Culture Issue #47 Featuring: • The Pentair Everpure Golden Bean wrap up • Product Showcase • Global industry trends • Origin Stories We know our online flipbook is great, but if you prefer a hardcopy in your hand t...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Issue 46

Cafe Culture Issue #46 Featuring: • Australian Cafe Supplier Directory • On the plate recipes • Coffee Origins • Cafés abroad  
by Cafe Culture Mag



Capturing the attention of restaurant-goers is difficult in a crowded market, but keeping that attention and building a loyal customer base is even more of a challenge. We spared five minutes with founder of online hospitality ...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Sometimes, you walk into other people’s venues and think: how are their staff so well behaved? Why is the place so clean? What are their secrets? Managing a bar isn’t easy. Among juggling stock, budgets, customers a...
by Cafe Culture Mag



TRENDING CAFES Brisbane & Beyond

Ever been desperate for a good coffee and didn’t know where to go? As a newbie in town or a local who’s in an unfamiliar ‘burb, this can be a serious problem, if you’re the slightest bit fussy about your coffee. Your pr...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Freezoccino – The Trendiest Summer Drinks.

Ready to take advantage of Australian Summer? Here’s the truism- as the outdoor temperature rises, the temperature of what’s in your coffee cup must fall. A flat white at 3.30 pm when the temperature peaks at 35 deg. C ...
by Cafe Culture Mag


The perfect condiment for your café

Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar Family owned condiment manufacturer – The Food Company, have recently released a 100% Australian Premium Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar to the foodservice market. Using Dark Balsamic Vinegar sou...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Red Roasters – Cafe Review

How refreshing is it to see an amazing cafe when you are travelling that reminds you of back home. Great coffee, amazing food and smart on trend design and a slick fit out. We did not hesitate to enter this vibrant Brighton caf...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Freezoccino – Keeping up your Summer Coffee sales.

Here’s the truism about the Australian Summer – as the outdoor temperature rises, the temperature of what’s in your coffee cup must fall. A flat white at 3.30 pm when the temperature peaks at 35 deg. C doesn’t e...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Changes are coming to GST

Make sure your business is ready from 1 July 2018… From 1 July 2018, the goods and services tax (GST) will apply to retail sales of low value physical goods ($1000 or less) that have been imported to Australia and sold to con...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Water – the mother of tea

I came across a beautiful quote while visiting The China National Tea Museum which is located on the Jilong Mountain in Hangzhou. “Water is the mother of tea, the teapot is its father, and fire the teacher”. Sometimes the r...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Stoddart – Functional Storage Solutions

Simply Stainless is the world’s leading range of quality modular stainless steel sinks, tables, benches and stainless steel shelving which covers a whole spectrum of industries – from commercial kitchens and laundries for h...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Free online courses to help Australians boost their digital skills

Is there someone in your business who’d like to get better at using computers and technology? Tell them about Be Connected! Be Connected is a new program to help all Australians increase their skills and confidence with digit...
by Cafe Culture Mag



Bare Witness – Cafe Review

Do yourself a favour and check out this new #nicespace located across the bay from the Sydney Olympic precinct. Barista & Cupping champion Franki Shi and John Suh have teamed up to launch this outstanding full service cafe ...
by Cafe Culture Mag


7 practical tips to help you save water and money in your business

Every drop counts – it’s time to be water wise. Most Australian businesses use water in some form or another—from a Melbourne café washing dishes in the kitchen to a farmer in rural NSW watering their crops. But with wat...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Super Matcha Green Teas – Add health to your menu

Enjoy our exiting new range of four super-healthy Matcha Green tea combinations. Original Organic Matcha Blueberry Matcha Turmeric & Ginger Matcha Vanilla Matcha. Made with the finest shade grown green tea leaves, handpicke...
by Cafe Culture Mag



The 2017 Pentair® Everpure® Golden Bean Competition Champions

That’s a Wrap Last week the coffee Industry judged and awarded Australia’s and New Zealand’s best coffee roasting business at the 12th annual Pentair Everpure Golden Bean Roaster’s Competition and Conference. The co...
by Cafe Culture Mag


A chapter from Adore Estate

Above being able to share our blends with more and more people, the café sites we roast coffee for always seem to have a great story to tell, from the time they approach us before opening, to when they come to us and to say th...
by Cafe Culture Mag


Cappuccine introduces Smartfruit – 100% Real Fruit Purees Smartfruit Mellow Mango + Immunity

Cappuccine Australia would like to introduce you to the Smartfruit™ range of all-natural real fruit purees. Brand new and one of a kind, Smartfruit™ mixes were uniquely formulated to perfectly capture the authentic taste of...
by Cafe Culture Mag