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From the Bean to the Cup – A Coffee Story About an Ethiopian Coffee Coop

Ethiopia is the cradle of the coffee trade. Ethiopian ancestors of the Oromo people were the first to discover and recognize the energizing effect of the coffee bean plant. There are many legendary accounts regarding how coffee was discovered.

The most famous account (possibly anecdotal) is about an Ethiopian goat herd, Kaldi, who noticed the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush. Out of curiosity and knowing the berries were eatable, Kaldi decided to chew on the berries himself. Pleased with the taste and the energy he felt, Kaldi then took the berries to a Muslin holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy man disapproved of the berries and threw them into the fire only to produce a very enticing aroma. The story says that the roasted beans were quickly picked up from the red ambers, ground up and dissolved in water. This was the first cup of coffee ever brewed. The rest is history!

The Oromia region in Ethiopia produces more than 65% of the country’s coffee.


  • All of the production is Arabica coffee, shade grown and thus environmentally friendly.
  • There are more than 617,000 households who participate in the coffee trade and membership in a coffee cooperative is one of the best ways for small farmers to join forces in order to better compete in the Fair Trade coffee market. Specifically,
  • The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) seeks to help more than 100,000 small scale coffee farmers cultivating about 87,000 acres or unique heirloom, forest grown, bird friendly and organic produced coffee.
  • The coop owns for general use an estimated 55 pulping facilities, 15 hulling centers and 129 warehouses.
  • The use and accessibility of common coffee processing resources helps the cooperative members maintain consistent processing standards, reduce costs and increase negotiation power through greater specialty coffee supply.
  • The coffee production includes wet processing and washing for Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Nekemte coffees.
  • Dry processing and sun drying includes Harar, Jimma, Nekemte and Sidamo coffees.
  • About 70% of the cooperative’s profits are returned to the members as dividends and 30% are invested back in physical resources, processing facilities, equipment and reserves for the future.


Coffee growing is a very personal business, think about that next time you are enjoying your cup of Joe!


  • The founder of the OCFCU cooperative, for example, Mr. Tadesse Meskela, knows very well how much children benefit through the united efforts of many.
  • His father, a farmer, had twelve (12) children who all received an education, a remarkable achievement for a family with limited means.
  • One of the sons, Tadesse Meskela, was awarded a two month co-operative training placement in Japan in the late 1990’s.
  • When he returned to Ethiopia, he founded The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) and remains committed to co-operative building for coffee growers’ ongoing technical and agricultural training, education, health and family life improvements.
  • Harvesting coffee is hard work done by men and women who see a brighter future for their children in stories such as Mr Meskela’s.
  • Such stories will be lived as farming children graduate from classrooms and become Ethiopia’s leaders, doctors, teachers, technicians and more.


May I recommend you taste a cup of delicious Ethiopian Longberry Harrar coffee? This is a coffee from Ethiopia’s eastern highlands above 6000 feet in altitude from the Harar region (also spelled Harrar or Harer). Rich and pleasing aroma. Bold and complex flavor with a snappy acidity and hints of fruit or citrus. In short, featuring a full body that finishes like a fine, dry red wine. Enjoy!


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