There are around 850 smallholder farmers who tender cherry to the Jigesa Washing Station in Shakisso, in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, which borders Sidama to the southeast. The average farm size is 2.5 hectares, with corn, grains, and false banana typically growing alongside the coffee, as well as Birbira, Wanza, and Acacia trees for shade. The wet mill uses clean river water to process its washed coffee, which are fermented underwater in tanks for 48 hours before being washed clean of its mucilage and dried on raised beds. The farms range in elevation from 1800–1950 meters above sea level, and temperatures are moderate, reaching up to around 77° Fahrenheit during the day, and cooling to around 60° Fahrenheit at night.
Coffees in Ethiopia are typically grown on very small plots of land by farmers who also grow other crops. The majority of smallholders will deliver their coffee in cherry to a nearby washing station or central processing unit, where their coffee will be sorted, weighed, and paid for or given a receipt. Coffee is then processed, usually washed or natural, by the washing station and dried on raised beds.
The washing stations serve as many as several hundred to sometimes a thousand or more producers, who deliver cherry throughout the harvest season: The blending of these cherries into day lots makes it virtually impossible under normal circumstances to know precisely whose coffee winds up in which bags on what day, making traceability to the producer difficult. We do, however, make every available effort to source coffee from the same washing stations every year, through our export partners and their connections with mills and washing stations.
Typically farmers in this region don't have access to and therefore do not utilize fertilizers or pesticides in the production of coffee.