Legend says that the Kaffa region of Western Ethiopia is where Mother Nature gave us the gift of coffee. To the South of these birth grounds lies the Bench Maji Zone. This is the region where the most compelling and celebrated coffee variety has developed itself into a worldwide phenomenon; Gesha.
Bench Maji is one of the fourteen zones of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region.
The zone is home to several ethnic groups like Bench, Me’en, and Amhara, for instance. But ‘Bench’ is the largest ethnic group and almost represents 50% of the entire population.
The river Omo, that dissolves into the waters of Lake Turkana, runs parallel with the Eastern border of Bench Maji. Another famed landmark is the dense forest of Bench Maji. While deforestation influenced other parts of Ethiopia, Bench Maji remarkably remained unharmed.
Coffee trees enjoy the untouched mature forests that act as a natural green dome. Coffee can grow unhindered. Recently, Ethiopia broke the world record by replanting 350 million trees in a single day. A movement within the country that seeks to create more forests like the one we find in Bench Maji.
It is the popularity of zones like Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, that can overshadow Bench Maji. The zone does not ring a bell to a lot of coffee buyers.
This is changing, however. Gesha Village Estate is one of the more popular farms that turn people’s attention to these ‘outskirts’ of Ethiopia.
Another example is the Bench Maji Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union. A large Union with 65 primary Cooperatives that serve 130.000 smallholders. The Union proves that coffee is Bench Maji’s primary cash crop. Both quality and quantity are represented by this lush zone.
Bench Maji is the zone where the Gesha variety was discovered. Gesha is considered, by many coffee professionals, to be the crown upon coffees quality and taste. Our cuppers also acknowledge this fact. An array of floral and fruity tastes bloom in a beautiful balanced cup. A comparison to fine wine is not out of place, when talking about Gesha’s.
While the popularity of Panamanian Gesha’s soured throughout the coffee world, two documentary makers were about to shift their careers. Rachel Samuel and Adam Overton were shooting a documentary about Ethiopia’s coffee in 2007. Throughout the production, the myth and lore around the Gesha variety captured their interest.
Their search led them to Willem Boot; a prominent coffee educator at Boot Coffee. While visiting Willem in San Francisco, they began to develop a vision together. Would it not be great to revive Ethiopia’s finest variety; Gesha? Because at the time, only Panamanian Gesha’s dominated the markets.
And so, their mission to bring Gesha coffee home to the forests of Bench Maji began.
Today, Rachel and Adam have a 471-hectare farm full of the finest Gesha’s on the market. Through the Pride of Gesha, they auction the top lots of their produce.
As Trabocca, we offer the non-auction lots of Gesha Village. Uncompromised, intense, fruity, and floral coffees; signature tastes of the ancient Gesha variety. Every season, we cup Gesha coffees and select the lots that convince us most.