From the Hills of Abaya

By: Chris Davidson

Gelana Abaya coffees are produced in the Gelana and Abaya woredas (districts,) located just northwest of the town of Yirgacheffe.  Gelana and Abaya are neighboring woredas, Gelana to the south and Abaya to the north, stretched along the eastern slopes of the range of hills that separate Yirgacheffe from Lake Abaya.  Both Gelana and Abaya are located in the Borena Zone of Ethiopia’s massive Oromia Region.  Although Yirgacheffe town is less than 10 miles from the Gelana Abaya washing stations, the border between the Oromia Region and Southern Nation Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) runs right between them.  Technically, since Yirgacheffe is located in the Gedeo Zone of the SNNPR, there are some geographical distinctions between Gelana Abaya coffees and Yirgacheffe coffees.  While it could be the power of suggestion, we’ve found that Gelana Abaya coffees do have a unique character from Yirgacheffe coffees, and have focused on sourcing from this area specifically.

During our most recent visit to Gelana Abaya we were blown away by the tidiness of the facilities, and terrific condition of the equipment.  The depulping machinery and fermentation tanks were all pristine, and the drying beds were all in fantastic condition.

Also extremely impressive was the teamwork of the workers at the wet mills.  A group of a dozen or so worked together with long wooden paddles to stir up the fermenting parchment coffee before washing through the concrete channels to ensure removal of loose mucilage from the parchment.  Another several dozen workers sorted drying parchment coffees together on raised beds, both groups singing in time to the rhythm of their activities.

It’s obvious from the cup that the attention to detail in processing at the Gelana Abaya wet mills applies to the production of the coffee cherry at the smallholder farm.  Sweet peach, nectarine and green melon are prominent, along with heavy lilac and lime zest aromatics.  It’s this complexity along with the evident care invested in the coffee by the farmers delivering to Gelana Abaya washing stations that sets it apart from the scores of Yirgacheffe offers Atlas receives each year.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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