A spotlight on Getu Bekele & our Ethiopian coffees
Getu Bekele is an important figure in the Ethiopian coffee industry. Over the years, he has worked as an agronomist, researcher, trainer, and writer.
Today, Getu Bekele has set up his own export business under the name of G Broad Trading. G Broad was founded to support single producers, co-operatives, and washing stations to source high-quality and traceable coffees in a sustainable way.
By leveraging his knowledge of single coffee varieties and an improved profit and transparency model, each producer that works with G Broad receives a larger percentage of profits.
Read on to learn more about Getu and the delicious coffees we’re able to source thanks to our relationship with him and G Broad.
Who is Getu Bekele?
Getu is a passionate coffee professional who has dedicated his life and career to improving the quality of Ethiopian coffee.
Ethiopia is widely agreed to be the birthplace of coffee, and the country where the plant first grew in the wild.
As such, there are thousands of coffee varieties that we don’t know much about in the Ethiopian countryside, as many have not been formally studied or officially labelled. Today, these are known as landrace coffee varieties (formerly known as heirloom varieties).
However, in recent years, things have started to change, and more information on these wonderful varieties has become available. This is thanks in no small part to the work of Getu and other local experts.
As part of this, Getu has published much of his research, including co-writing A Reference Guide to Ethiopian Coffee Varieties with Timothy Hill. In this book, he explains how landrace coffee varieties have spread across the country, publishes details on those that have been formally recognised and labelled, and explains why the concept of “heirloom” coffee is now outdated when we talk about Ethiopian coffee.
“[Ethiopia]’s diversity in terms of agroecology is really, really good,” Getu says in a video promoting the book. “The combination of genetic diversity and the environment really brings a great opportunity for the country.”
Getu is also a licensed Q grader with a PhD from the University of Hohenheim (Germany) in global food security and crop improvement. His master’s degree focused on coffee plant breeding and genetics, specifically looking at how coffee varieties react to new environments.
He is also passionate about providing training for agronomy, processing, and coffee quality to others in his industry. To this end, he works with stakeholders across the entirety of the coffee industry, including those at processing stations, unions, co-operatives, and exporters.
Special Ethiopian coffee lots
We’ve had the privilege of working with Getu for some years now, and through him, we’ve purchased some exceptional Ethiopian coffees from G Broad Trading.
Mostly, these coffees are single farmer or single varietal lots. Two of the best examples are our Kurume Natural and Jabanto coffees.
Kurume Natural is a single variety coffee that comes from East Guji, in the Oromia region. Like many Ethiopian coffee producers, farmers in this region grow a number of improved coffee varieties, as well as regional landraces.
Improved coffee varieties are those that have been the subject of targeted improvements and augmentations through a national breeding and research program.
Kurume, also known as Kudhume, is one of the most popular landrace varieties in the Guji region. The coffee has a juicy body and sweet taste, with notes of mango, citrus, and jasmine.
As well as the Kurume Natural we offer, we’ve also purchased many coffees from the Jabanto co-op over the years. J
abanto produces both natural and washed coffees, grown at altitudes of 1,700 to 2,3000 m.a.s.l., and comprises 29 smallholder farmers from Gedeo.
Jabanto also cultivates the Kurume landrace variety, as well as another known as Bishari. It offers a diverse range of delicious coffees which are well worth trying.
What challenges does the Ethiopian coffee sector currently face?
Since 2018, there has been an ongoing civil conflict in Ethiopia, with a particular conflict emerging in November 2020 in the Tigray region, located in the northern part of the country.
In November 2021, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency and called on civilians to join the war against rebel groups such as the Tigray Defense Forces and the Oromo Liberation Army.
The Tigray Defense Forces had previously gained some ground, but in late December, they announced they would be withdrawing from the regions of Afar and Amhara, where conflict has been ongoing since July 2021.
As part of these conflicts, towns of strategic importance and railways have been occupied by different military factions. While coffee travels east by rail from Addis Ababa to Djibouti (which is still possible), the current crop has been delayed because of the conflict.
This has also caused the price of Ethiopian coffee to rise. Coffee is a major cash crop and a key part of the Ethiopian economy, and as the conflict persists, shipments could face further logistical issues and the wider coffee sector could feel the ramifications.
We are keeping a close eye on how events unfold in Ethiopia, and doing everything we can to ensure that our roaster partners receive their coffees in a timely fashion.
In spite of these challenges, we continue to source a number of outstanding Ethiopian coffees through Getu, G Broad Trading, and the many smallholder farmers they work with.
In the future, we hope that Condesa will only have more opportunities to source new lots from Ethiopian coffee producers, and bring our roaster partners exciting new coffees with truly amazing cup profiles.