washed • Neguesse Debela • Gedeb, Gedeo
notes / jasmine, toffee, earl grey
profile / floral, sweet, clean finish
region / Gedeb, Gedeo
altitude / 1900-2200 masl
varietals / 1974-1975 JARC Selections, Local Landraces
producer / Neguesse Debela
farm / Worka Chelbessa
processing / washed
drying method / raised African beds
importer / West Coast Coffee
The kebele (community) of Worka Chelbessa is located in Gedeb, which is the most southern part of the Gedeo region. For the last decade, the area of Worka Chelbessa has become more and more well known for producing spectacular coffees, and this is why this area was one of the first places that coffee producer Neguesse Debela wanted to invest in when he started in coffee a few years ago.
In 2017, Neguesse started operating his first site in Worka Chelbessa, but quickly expanded in 2019 by buying another washing station a few kilometers away in a small sub area of Worka Chelbessa called Danche. The two sites, run by Negeusse and his team, execute immaculate washed and natural processed coffees, but also create unique experimental lots in an effort to always keep improving their quality.
Neguesse Debela has not been in the coffee industry long. Neguesse was known in Ethiopia as a computer guy, running a successful computer part import company. While coffee does not seem like a natural leap, Neguesse was inspired on a trip to Minnesota where at a cafe he had a pour-over that for him was an epiphany. At that moment he realized the potential of coffee in his home country and upon his return he got right to work. Neguesse started off by touring coffee processing sites throughout southern Ethiopia to understand the farming and processing better. From that initial tour, Neguesse was determined to set his company SNAP on a course to be one of the best quality exporters in Ethiopia. To do this Neguesse started by hiring Abenezer Asafaw, an energetic young coffee professional as his quality and coffee manager. Neguesse, with Abenezer by his side, has since bought land for SNAP to process coffee themselves, but have also started managing processing sites in Nensebo, Gedeb, and Guji. In early 2019, SNAP finished the final touches on their own export dry mill, giving them full control of their product and quality.
The Worka Chelbessa washing station utilizes the traditional underwater fermentation commonly used in Ethiopia, but also in 2021 experimented with dry fermentation as well at Chelbessa. This lot is a combination of both, wet and dry fermentation. In underwater fermentation the coffee is fully submerged in water for 36 to 48 hours normally, but the process can take longer. In dry fermentation the coffee is pulped and left to ferment without being underwater for 36-48 hours. After fermentation the coffee is dried for 10-14 days on raised beds.
Yirgacheffe is famous for putting washed coffee on the map in Ethiopia decades ago. People fell in love with the floral and citric profiles that the washing process brought out in the coffees of Yirgacheffe, and almost instantly this small town became famous for its coffee.
Southern Ethiopia, and Yirgacheffe in particular can get very confusing when figuring out the geographical areas and names. Yirgacheffe is actually the name of a small town, and the name of a small wordea (district). However, the name Yirgacheffe also became synonymous for coffees coming from a much greater area than just the town or the woreda. Today, Yirgacheffee coffee is mostly from the political boundary area called the Gedeo Zone (named after the Gedeo ethic group). Notably though, a very small amount of coffee labeled as Yirgacheffe comes from the Oromia region that borders the western edge of Gedeo. The Gedeo Zone is broken down into 7 woredas; Dilla, Dilla Zuria, Bule, Wenago, Yirgacheffe, Kochere, and Gedeb.
Gedeb is the southern most woreda (district) of the Gedeo Zone, and in comparison to other areas, coffee is somewhat newer to this area. Many farms here have only been growing coffee for 1 or 2 generations, and much of the coffee is only 20-30 years old. Farms in this area tend to be slightly larger than in the northern part of Yirgacheffe, but are still relatively small - averaging around 1.5 -2 hectares. (However a few larger farms that are 5-20 hectares do exist.)
The Gedeb woreda is home to the coffee producing kebeles (communities) Worka Chelbessa, Worka Sakaro, Banko Dhadhato, Halo Hartume, Harmufo, Gedeb Gubita, Gedeb Galcha, Banko Chelchele, and Banko Gotiti. Fairly recently, the political boundaries of Gedeb grew to include communities north of Gedeb, that were formally a part of Kochere. Those communities are: Mora Layo, Mora, Bisha, Geshe Jeba, Abel, Kedida Gubeta, and Gora Dibandi. These kebeles do not produce a lot of coffee due to their extreme elevation often over 2400 meters.