Located within the famous Sidama coffee-producing region of Ethiopia, the Kontema Station works directly with just over a thousand smallholder producers to mill coffee for export. Daye Bensa, the exporting organization in Ethiopia, provides assistance to producers to sell their coffee.
The owner of the mill, Asefa Dukamo, was introduced to coffee at a young age as his parents were cultivating coffee and other garden crops. In his teens, he began to supply neighboring coffee washing stations with cherries purchased from nearby relatives and villagers in addition to his own family’s farm. He realized that there were not many washing stations nearby, and he had to travel great distances to deliver his coffee. Thus began the idea to construct his own washing station to reduce the travel time for coffee producers in his region.
Producers working with the Kontema Station face a number of obstacles when growing coffee. This includes a lack of access to electricity, water, telecommunication, and road access. In addition, producers in the region suffer from reduced exposure to knowledge on the best coffee farming practices which can directly impact yield and quality.
Fortunately, Daye Bensa has been working to combat these challenges, initiating their “Back to the Community” projects. So far, projects have included the building of roads to connect villages, installing electricity transformers and supplying producers with training in coffee plantation etiquette and better agricultural practices. Daye Bensa has numerous goals outlined for the coming years including an improvement on agricultural training and the construction of a Health Facility for producers and families. The impact the Dukamo family has on the region is significant due to the many farms they have been able to reach – educating youths about coffee production and connecting producers to global coffee markets.
For processing, the journey begins with only the ripest cherries being selectively handpicked. Once collected, the cherries are delivered to the mill to be sorted based on density and quality. This process is carried out by submerging the cherries in tanks and removing the floating cherries prior to drying. After sorting, the cherries are then moved to traditional raised beds lined with mesh nets. There are 176 beds here to accommodate the amount of coffee to dry from the producers. Once here, the cherries are rotated every 30 minutes to ensure even drying and to prevent over-fermentation. Drying typically takes about 12-15 days depending on the temperature and humidity. Once at the mill, the coffee is hulled via machine before being packed, ready for export.