Ninety percent of the Dumerso coffee community in Yirgacheffe – Sidamo, Ethiopia relies on coffee as their main source of income. Coffee production accounts for approximately 5% of the world coffee market.
Ethiopia ranks as the 5th largest coffee producer in the world.
With approximately 15 million people involved in the coffee production process. The potential for coffee to create positive social change is significant.
I interview Beti Berhanu Manager at Dumerso Coffee about her coffee journey and the impact coffee has on the community she works with.
How did you become involved in the Dumerso coffee community?
“I went to school in Yirgacheffe and it is a forty minute walk from Dumerso. For as long as I can remember, my family has been involved in the coffee business. I bought the Dumerso site at the end of June 2010 from the government, who acquired it from a private owner (Since the farm was established in 1998 it was not operational). While my brother, Surafel Beerhanu and I have been working together to run it, helping each other in every way that we can; from 2013 I have come to run it by myself.”
Have you faced any significant barriers for production?
“Given that coffee is such a significant portion of the Ethiopian economy I can confidently say that at each stage of the coffee handling and processing stage, there is bureaucracy. Whilst the challenges , would be much smaller compared to other small lot farmers, one of the biggest challenges I face is consistently high quality coffee”
How do you maintain high quality coffee?
“We are currently building a cupping lab inside the washing station. This will make it easier for us to control the quality and also to arrange coffee cupping for visitors and guests to Dumerso Coffee”
How are you currently processing your coffee?
“Currently we are doing washed and naturals, in mainly focussing on specialty coffee, in the future we are plan to do semi-washed and other processing methods.
Do you have any plans for the future?
“In the immediate future we are hoping to further improve our coffee quality by increasing the capacity of our washing station. In the long run, we also want to promote traceability for our coffee
Currently, I am the only woman in the area that has a site (Dumerso, Yirgacheffe). I am passionate about what I do. While it is a male dominated sector in Ethiopia, I hope to see more women involved in the management of the sector and this will make it easier to give back to the community. In the future I hope to help the women in the area
Can you give me some insight on the peaks and troughs of harvesting in terms of employment?
“During the harvest season (roughly 4 months from October to the end of January), we have 290+ workers. 95% of them are women, and most of them are above 18. Because of the importance of coffee in the livelihoods for the majority of smallholder farmers in the zone, sometimes teenagers, some being 15 years and younger come and help their families (mother or old sibling mostly) pick cherries after school. Otherwise, there is no one to look after them at home.
To point out the importance of coffee, for women who do not have another job opportunity, the money they make during these 4 months are a major part of their yearly income. To them coffee is everything.
I.e coffee will send their children to school, coffee will assist them in getting the medication they need, or anything they need. As such, coffee receives the ultimate care as it is the central crop in their lives”
If someone were drinking your coffee on the other side of the world, what would you say to them?
“I hope you enjoy the fruits of my work.”
What can consumers do to support the work you do?
“The best way consumers can contribute is learn where their coffee comes from. I think that’s a good start.”
Contact Beti Berhanu here.