Suke Quto Tesfaye Bekele

Suke Quto from Ethiopia, Guji's pride!

What a party, another super nice coffee from Ethiopia with a beautiful story. This time from the Guji region, which is known for its great quality Specialty Coffee.

The 'founder' of the farm where this coffee comes from, Tesfaye Bekele has been one of the most important people in the rise of Guji coffee!

The farm I'm talking about is Suke Quto, hence the name of this new Ethiopian coffee. How this coffee originated is really a great fun and exciting story, and I'd like to tell you briefly below...

Forest fires in Guji

Tesfaye Bekele worked at the time (1997) within the 'Natural Resource and Environmental Protection' of the Ethiopian government. Between 1997 and 1999, the region was terrorized by fierce forest fires, which destroyed a total of 5000 hectares of forest.

Tesfaye was assigned the responsibility of rebuilding this land and finding new ways to preserve it for the long term.

After the forest fires, many locals returned to the area to use it for agricultural work, such as growing corn or teff. Tesfaye obviously couldn't argue with this, so he suggested an alternative to convince people to do something different.

He wanted to replant the forest and place coffee trees to create more diversity. The locals thought it was a good idea and asked for coffee seeds.

Planting the seeds

Tesfaye went big and distributed large amounts of seeds fairly among the 'locals'.

When the question came up when the seeds would start to bear fruit, and Tesfaye answered 4-5 years, everyone was disappointed and returned the seeds to Tesfaye.

Naturally, Tesfaye regretted that the 'locals' were not motivated to invest in this period, but he certainly did not give up on his idea. He reserved a piece of land and then started sowing himself.

After his first harvest from the Suke Quto Farm, the locals came back one by one and asked for the seeds again.

The Suke Quto Farm

The farm extends over the high peaks and valleys of the 'Odo Shakisso woreda'.

The volcanic soil on the farm is extremely fertile and Tesfaye keeps the soil in good condition through 'organic recycling' of litter, root residues from coffee and shade trees.

All coffee from this farm is BIO-organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Tesfaye currently works with 171 other smallholder farmers who supply the coffee cherries to the Suke Quto Washing and Drying Station.

In addition, he owns 221 hectares of land in the highlands of Guji where more than 200 seasonal workers are needed every year to harvest and process everything.

Mini documentary from Trabocca about Suke Quto:

Tesfaye is coming to the Netherlands

In 2009, Tesfaye sent samples to our partner Trabocca for the first time. After cupping, they informed Tesfaye that the results were disappointing.

Tesfaye did not believe this and took the first plane to personally hand over a new sample. The coffee tasted great! What turned out? The original sample didn't even come from Suke Quto's farm!

Social entrepreneurship

Tesfaye focuses on environmentally friendly produced coffee and on the economic growth of the community. The locals must receive a living income from sustainable coffee production.

Tesfaye also started a community project that aims to renew local schools. With a handful of dedicated coffee roasters, Tesfaye has built a new school building in the neighboring village of Kurume.

Photo credit: Trabocca.