HOW COFFEE IS BOUGHT AND SOLD (history and market)
The birthplace of coffee is also arguably the most challenging to work in for a coffee buyer. Coffee is not only an important export commodity; Ethiopian locals are also high consumers of coffee, making for dynamic and competitive local marketplaces. Added to this are protective trade laws and policies that sometimes change overnight without warning. Combined with the most exotic and unique cup profiles and thousands upon thousands of not-yet-known coffee varieties, we suppose it is only fitting that the “Queen of Coffee Origins” is as multi-faceted as she is.
There are three ‘windows’ for buying coffee in Ethiopia: (1) Directly from a private estate that can export their own coffee; (2) From a cooperative that is represented by a union that acts as the exporter; (3) From a private exporter that has a license to buy coffee from the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX).
The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX) was established in 2008 and is a private company made up of both private parties and the Ethiopian government. Initially, smallholders sold their cherries to a ‘collector’, who in turn sold to suppliers/washing stations. Collectors had to obtain licenses in order to buy from their specific areas (e.g. Kochere). They were only allowed to buy from their specific areas.
Once processed by a washing station, coffee was delivered to the auction in Addis and were cupped and graded by the Coffee Liquoring Unity (CLU). Auctions happened every day and exporters had the opportunity to see, but not cup the samples, and together with knowing the coffee’s region, made their purchasing decisions.
In the newer version of the auction, which was implemented quite soon after the first, collectors were eliminated, and centralized marketplaces were implemented. Now, rather than suppliers buying from collectors or specific smallholders, they buy from centralized markets and cherry prices are based on ‘market price’.
As of 2017, the ECX has been rumored to be undergoing significant changes, allowing for greater traceability (i.e. down to washing station level). It is difficult to report on precisely which changes have been, as the government continues to maintain secrecy on these matters. We will update this page as we learn more.
OUR PARTNERS AT ORIGIN
WHY ethiopian COFFEES SHOULD BE PART OF YOUR MENU
Naturals: Full bodied, clean, berries, stone fruit.
Washed: citrus fruits, stone fruits, floral, fresh.
How the price is constructed