G Broad Trading
Getu Bekele is an important figure in the Ethiopian coffee industry. Over the years, he has worked as an agronomist, researcher, trainer, and writer (co-writing A Reference Guide to Ethiopian Coffee Varieties, with Tim Hill from Counter Culture Coffee).
Today, Getu Bekele has set up his own export business under the name of G Broad Trading. G Broad was founded to support single producers, co-operatives, and washing stations to source high-quality and traceable coffees in a sustainable way.
By leveraging his knowledge of single coffee varieties and an improved profit and transparency model, each producer that works with G Broad receives a larger percentage of profits.
Getu is a passionate coffee professional who has dedicated his life and career to improving the quality of Ethiopian coffee. Getu is also a licensed Q grader with a PhD from the University of Hohenheim (Germany) in global food security and crop improvement. His master’s degree focused on coffee plant breeding and genetics, specifically looking at how coffee varieties react to new environments.
He is also passionate about providing training for agronomy, processing, and coffee quality to others in his industry. To this end, he works with stakeholders across the entirety of the coffee industry, including those at processing stations, unions, co-operatives, and exporters.
Jabanto Farmer’s Group
Through G Broad’s help the Jabanto Farmer’s Group was established in 2017, with 29 founding members from the Yirgacheffe and Kochere wordeas (counties). Because of the group's success in a relatively short amount of time, membership has increased every year, and the group is now comprised of 89 producers.
(members of the Jabanto Farmer's Group)
Jabanto translates to 'stronger together' in the local Gedeo zone dialect, Gedeofa. These farmers inherited the coffee farming tradition from their grandparents, combining it with modern knowledge and practices, they’re able to produce some of our favorite coffees from Ethiopia each year.
No doubt in part because of Bekele’s research, coffee varieties have become a focus for the group – this research allows farmers to find the best types of coffee trees to grow on their land, yielding delicious flavors in the cup while also being sturdy and sustainable to farm. Our single origin coffees from Jabanto are exclusively comprised of the Kurume variety – well-known amongst coffee farmers in Gedeo and is prized for its delicate profile and exceptional cup quality.
In addition to the more traditional washed and natural processes, Jabanto is also experimenting with honey, carbonic maceration and anaerobic fermentation techniques. Never shy to try something new/different/weird, we couldn’t help ourselves and over the years have purchased each of the groups experimental lots, and have loved the results. Outside of coffee harvest season, the Jabanto farmers are focused on land preparation, fertilization, planting and sowing, compost preparation, weed control, and disease and pest control.
Ethiopian Commodity Exchange:
No conversation about Ethiopian coffee would be complete without discussing the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). The organization has been much maligned within the specialty coffee industry since its inception in 2008.
The foundation on which the ECX was built was laid out in a 2007 TED Talk by economist Eleni Gabre-Mahin (who, in 2008, would become the founding COE of the ECX in 2008). Her plan, she said, would create wealth, minimize risk for farmers and turn one of the world’s poorest countries into one of its fastest-growing economies.
In theory, this all sounded great – and should have been something that everyone in the coffee industry could support. However, coffee is an awkward fit within the larger commodity category – quality being the biggest differentiator of price, meaning buying and selling specialty coffee is more complex.
Before we talk about negatives associated with the ECX, it’s important to remember that it has, and continues to have, a positive impact on many coffee farmers’ lives. Prior to the establishment of the ECX many Ethiopian coffee producers had little to no access to sufficient credit, market information, and transportation (to move their coffee from the farm, to warehouses in Adis Ababa) among many other vital resources. For many Ethiopian farmers, coffee producers included, the ECX came as a way forward after years of struggle and hardship.
Upon its founding, government regulations required all coffee sold within Ethiopia, to be sold through the ECX. In return, the ECX provided many advantages to small-hold producers throughout the country – easy access to accurate NYSE coffee prices, so producers can make informed decisions as to when they sell their crop. Next-day payment for coffee after it’s sold, because buyers are required to deposit finds into an ECX account prior to participating in any auctions. Centralized warehousing and access to national/international markets.
The biggest concern, from a specialty standpoint, of the established ECX system was traceability. Coffees sold though the ECX are grouped together in larger regional lots, making it impossible to trace specific coffees back to individual farmers, co-ops, or washing stations. In 2017, after pressure from the Specialty Coffee Association and Specialty Coffee buyers, the Ethiopian government relaxed the regulations allowing producers and exports to negotiate directly, and bypass the ECX platform. Exporters can now establish their own warehouses, consequently giving them more control over the sampling, scoring, and overall quality of the coffees they bring in. This enables a dialogue with the producer and increases traceability.
The 2017 “vertical integration” loophole is certainly a good thing for the specialty coffee sector, but it’s important to remember that specialty coffee is a very small sector within the larger coffee industry, and the ECX continues to be a net positive for many farmers.