The last time we visited Akmel’s organic farm in Limu, Ethiopia, was in November 2016. At that time we were focusing on improving the picking and sorting of the coffee cherries. To assist us in this project we invited our good friend from El Salvador, Rodolfo Ruffatti. Rodolfo has been producing some of the most interesting natural coffees to come out of El Salvador in the last couple of years. We couldn’t think of anyone better to help guide the good people at Akmel’s farm.
To get started we went through the sorting process at the raised drying beds together with farm manager Befekadu and the regular workers. Rodolfo was telling them how important it is to remove any cherries that were not perfectly ripe. If you have never seen the end result of the coffee you are creating at farm level, it is very hard to know how important this step is! To make this clearer, we brought back some of Akmel’s coffee that we had roasted. It was easy for everyone to see the difference in colour of the roasted beans and that we needed to improve the sorting.
After this we went out in the fields and picked coffee with a small group of pickers. Here we could show what quality we were looking for, regarding ripeness and colour of the cherries. These pickers went on to collect a full bucket of all the four single varieties Akmel is growing in large scale at the farm. The varieties are 74-110, 74-142, 74-165 and 74-40.
Once they had collected their full bucket, we collected all the coffee cherries at the drying tables. The improvement in picking was absolutely astonishing and we could now do proper tests where we dried these single varieties separately. This gave us a clear idea of how the varieties differentiate from one another.
As I’m writing this we are in late November 2017. We are at the very beginning of the harvest and back at Akmel’s farm. The improvement in taste quality from last year’s work has been great and furthermore we now know which varieties we prefer. We have been looking forward to being able to give this feedback to all of Akmel’s employees.
The farm looks healthier than ever and there are plenty of ripe coffee cherries ready to be picked.
Together with Akmel, we have been going through all the improvements from last year. It’s been exciting to tell the staff how pleased we have been with the great job they have done by significantly improving the quality. At the same time we are also highlighting the importance in keeping focused on the quality, with the ultimate goal of creating a natural coffee as clean as a washed coffee.
This focus will not only be getting us a better tasting coffee. It will also result in less wasted coffee as unripe cherries are now not getting picked, rather, they are left to fully ripen which results in a larger total harvest.