Ethiopia is a “Mecca” of sorts in specialty coffee. It is widely considered the origin of coffee and is home to many of the world’s highest scored coffees year after year. Ethiopia has been a dream destination since we began this journey as a coffee company years ago. This year we finally had the opportunity to go. We linked up with the Crop to Cup team in Southern Ethiopia to pay a visit to places like Girgacheffe and Sodoma that have gained international notoriety for their top quality coffees. Crop to Cup has exported coffee out of Ethiopia for years, and the knowledge of the country director Moata was priceless. We spent many hours driving down never ending dirt roads listening and learning from Moata.
Each day was long and full. We visited many different mills and farms. Some wtih great reputations, while others are new and will export their coffee for the very first time this season. Some had multiple international investors, while others were family owned and passed down for generations. There was one mill in particular that stuck out and made a special impact on us. This mill was owned by a young entrepreneur full of passion and vision for the future of coffee.
This young entrepreneur is Nejah Fadil. We had gotten to know Nejah over the course of the trip as he drove us to the various farms and mills, but it wasn’t until our last day that we realized he owned a mill himself. In his early years, Nejah played professional soccer in the nearby city of Dila. He retired from the game at a young age in order to help run his family's grain mill. Some of their investors also invested in coffee washing mills. Nejah was intrigued and eventually bought his own land in the mountains above Dila to start his own mill. Even though he didn’t know much about coffee yet, he purchased a beautiful lot high in the mountains overlooking a vast valley with a stream running right through it. Nejah made it priority to get to know the local community and gain their respect. When he received the permit necessary to process coffee, Nejah offered local farmers premium prices immediately in hopes of gaining their business despite being new to the industry.
(Nejah Fadil, in the middle, showing us his coffee farm)
Since starting a few years ago, Nejah’s farm has grown considerably and he now collects coffee cherries from over 100 nearby farms. He has strategically built his facilities to continue growing with the dream of providing more jobs and opportunity for the families and farmers in the surrounding area. Nejah takes great pride in his team and took the time to introduce us to each of his team members and share their specific role. Their joy in working with Nejah was evident to us.
(Nejah's team at his coffee farm with Ryan, Mark and myself)
After cupping over 50 different Ethiopian coffees, it was Nejah’s that won our favor. Despite being young and new to the industry, his coffee is a true product of genuine passion and meticulous care. We knew we’d be able to find great coffee in Ethiopia, but we are particularly excited to share this coffee with you and support another young entrepreneur, who just like us truly cares for his team and has big dreams for their future. Look out for Nejah’s coffee in the upcoming months!-Taylor Langstaff (International Relations Manager)