Farmers - Ethiopia - Nejah
I’m not sure what makes coffee special for you, but I love that it’s the jumpstart to my day, a permanent fixture in my routine. I love it’s rich history and progressive culture. I love the cutting edge technology in our cafe and I love that it means nothing without the dirty hands working in the field thousands of miles away. I love the complex nature and process of coffee, and I particularly love the relationships built along the way. After years of dreaming, we were finally able to visit the birthplace of coffee. We were able to shake some of those dirty hands, make some new friends, and learn a whole lot.
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 had been a dream destination since embarking on this journey as a coffee company and 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 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 mills and farms. Some that have great reputations, and others that will export their coffee for the first time this season. Some had multiple international investors, while others were family owned and passed down for generations. Then there was one mill that stuck out as special. 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 him over the course of the trip as he drove us to the various farms and mills. It wasn’t until our last day that we realized he owned a mill himself. Nejah previously played professional soccer in the nearby city of Dila. He retired at a young age to help his family's business, a grain mill. Some of their investors were 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. He didn’t know much about coffee yet, but purchased a beautiful lot overlooking a vast valley with a stream running right through it. Nejah put in time getting to know the local community and gaining 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. Since starting a few years ago, Nejah has grown considerably and 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 each of his team members and share their role. You could tell they were happy to be working with Nejah. Even though Nejah is young and new to this industry, his land sits at a high elevation and the coffee coming from his mill was our favorite after cupping over 50 Ethiopian coffees.
We knew we’d be able to find great coffee in Ethiopia, but we are particularly excited to share this coffee with you and to support a young entrepreneur like ourselves who really cares for his team and has big dreams for their future. Look out for Nejah’s coffee in the upcoming months!