How we first started working with the Omran family is an interesting story, and one that shows the vital role that our own cafes play in the company, and more specifically, in upholding our values (F.I.R.E). The R refers to relationships – forming lasting relationships with our customers, whether they’re customers in our cafes, our wholesale customers, or the coffee producers that we work with.
Anyway, on to the story – a friend of Michael Omran’s was visiting Oregon on vacation and paid us a visit, at the Portland café, shortly after we opened in 2017. They had such a great experience, and enjoyed the coffee so much, that upon returning home to San Francisco, they told Michael all about us and insisted that we should work together. After some email correspondence, we launched our first offering from Abana Estate, in 2018.
Abana Estate was founded in 2009, when the Omran Family (Peter and his two sons, Michael and Chris) purchased a piece of land in Gera, Ethiopia. The land was virgin old growth rainforest, and had not previously been farmed – so the amount of work necessary to turn it into a farm was immense. The story of Abana Estate, however, really starts many years before that.
From Michael Omran:
“Abana was a project that was the brain child of my dad. We have always been coffee people from a cultural perspective and my father loves coffee and had a coffee shop when we were younger.
He began doing a bit more humanitarian aid work in the Middle East and Africa, this sparked the idea. We had many conversations about it and we decided to move forward. In Ethiopia we saw an opportunity to invest in a remote community, build an infrastructure to produce amazing coffee while at the same time build a base for doing humanitarian work in our region.
In a nut shell that was the start. I was bitten by the coffee bug a few years in and the dark arts have been a part of my life ever since. At this point I focus on all coffee centric processing, quality, relationships etc. My brother Chris handles the majority of the business side import/export, business license, contracts etc. And my dad coordinates the aid work like coordinating medical projects or shipping a container of goods to Ethiopia for distribution.”
Abana translates to “our fathers” (Arabic), and through their work at Abana Estate, the Omran family are paying homage to the deep roots, rich heritage and origins of wild arabica coffee that traces to the heart of Ethiopia. They believe that the work to produce the best specialty coffee is as fundamentally important as the positive impact they make in the community.
Some of the community work that the Omran family coordinates at Abana Estate includes; paying fair wages to all farm workers, using equipment (water efficient machinery) that lessens their environmental impact, investing heavily in education, both at the farm and outside of it, donating hundreds of thousands of seedlings to local small hold farmers, and bringing electricity deep into remote areas.
Over the past 10 years, Abana Estate has completed five community-based medical projects. Gera is a town nearby and is the largest recipient of Abana’s aid efforts. These trips involved completing over 1,500 medical treatments, which included cataract surgeries and dental procedures. In addition, Abana has donated much needed supplies to the local clinic, supported the newly built pre-school in Gera, and built sports fields serving as a community space.
Michael goes on to say;
“The story is really not our story, but the story of our amazing team and the culture they have built at Abana, of fair treatment of people and investing in education.”
Bekele (left) is the farm manager and Tujuba (right) the assistant manager. Both have a deep understanding, from a coffee perspective and social perspective, of what the Omran family's goals are and have been key partners, in working toward them.
All Abana Estate's coffees are grown and processed at the farm. Most of the coffee at Abana Estate can be traced to specific varieties the Omran family have personally selected (specifically; Metu Bishari Selections, Gera Selections, and Merdacheriko), although with the unprecedented natural variety that is unique to Ethiopia, there are many unique and wild varieties also growing on the farm.
The lot differentiation at Abana Estate is not based on geographical areas of the farm, but on the specific processing methods used.