Producer: 2500 Small Holder Farmers
Mill: Keneon Chire
Elevation: 1600-1800 masl
Process: Natural, Sun-Dried on Raised Beds
Variety: Heirloom, Mikicho, Setami
Notes: Mango, Sweet Melon, Cherry Cordial, Chocolate, Juicy
Weight: 250 Grams
The Village of Oraela, nestled gently in the Sidama highlands, grabs your attention. Though I have not been there yet, I have been mesmerized by the pictures and words that our friends at Dominion Trading and Catalyst Coffee have shared with me. The contrasting layers of earth and sky: parched red clay, kicked into soft clouds by sometimes bare feet entwined in blades of grass giving way to the lush green foliage and forests set against a mountainous landscape framed by a sharp, burning blue sky. The people, with smiling faces and old songs being carried across the mill greet you with anticipation and excitement. As you take a few steps forward the Keneon Chire mill presents itself in all of its glory, cascading down the hillside with carefully planned coffee milling equipment, washing channels and drying beds. This place has immense potential, much of which is already being actualized, but everyone at the mill, from QC managers and coffee buyers to farmers and mill workers is dreaming about coffee and what is to come.
Hope is a powerful and driving force. Every sip of the Keneon Chire I take whispers hope. I can see it in the faces of those who grew and nurtured this coffee, the hands and feet of the workers of the mill. They are the experts who have brought this coffee to life and together we will continue to make it shine. I chose to work with this coffee because it is not only unique in profile for a naturally processed coffee, but also because of the work and investment that is being done in the Oraela village and at the Keneon Chire Mill to continue to improve quality and sustainability in both the cup and lives of all who live and work there.
The mills owner is Assefa Dukama, who also owns the Qonqona and Shawtawene mills in the Bensa region. Coincidentally, our Christmas Island Blend featured this coffee as well as a washed process coffee from the Shawtawene mill. The mill itself is named after his son, Keneon. It also happens to be the name of the QC manager at the mill, Chanada Keneon.
Unlike many naturally processed coffees from Sidama and Ethiopia in general, this coffee exhibits some lush and juicy tropical fruit aromas and flavors. We believe this is due to the fact that the main coffees being produced for this mill are the locally named Setami and Mikicho varietals of arabica. Normally, Ethiopian coffee varietals are generalized into the “Heirloom Varieties” category because of growing traditions and difficulty in establishing genetics. However, our partners have been able to differentiate these two main coffee strains. These two coffees look very similar genetically and physically to Typica and Gesha. If you look at the Setami seed, at the left in the below photo, you notice how small it is and the corresponding leaf is channeled and wavy, very similar to Typica. The Mikicho on the right, has a classic canoe shaped, long bean appearance of Gesha with a corresponding long, broad leaf.