Ethiopia

Sasaba washing station

About

Sasaba washing station

  • Sasaba brings us very pronounced Guji coffees with flavors ranging from peach, pineapple, and strawberry.
  • Tsegaye, the founder of Sasaba, gives training to smallholders to improve quality and pays out premiums when the quality is outstanding.
  • Sasaba coffees were selected for Trabocca’s 2018 Operation Cherry Red Auction.

The road to the Sasaba Washing Station

Head south on the Addis Ababa-Moyale highway, keep going past Yirgacheffe and drive through the otherworldly cloud-crowned mountains of the area, and you’ll eventually make it to the bustling little town of Bule Hora.

Snaking away from Bule Hora are older roads – strikingly different from, and much more challenging than, the new highway that leads to them – that carry you on muddy paths to verdant hills and green fields.

It is around this fertile area of Kercha district that Tsegay Hagos Tesfaye, founder and owner of Sasaba, has established two washing stations and mills that Trabocca sources from – one of which is Sasaba.

Equipped with a large pulper and over 600 African drying beds, Sasaba processes coffee received from over 500 smallholders working in the hills surrounding the wet mill. Like much of Kercha, the small plots of land around Sasaba sit at high altitudes around the 2000-meter mark.

The Sasaba smallholders

The Sasaba smallholders are a mix of Gedeo and Guji farmers, many of whom have lived here for generations, growing coffee next to each other. Similar to the rest of Kercha district, most of the farmers identify as Protestant Christians in this area. Their coffee grows on the slopes of the hills around Sasaba shaded by a mix of existing forest trees and those planted by the farmers, such as enset (false banana) trees.

Premiums for quality coffee

The Sasaba mill makes it a point to work with the more experienced farmers in the area. These are farmers that have been well-trained and have proven that they consistently produce high-quality coffee. Working alone, it would be harder for these farmers to market and sell their coffee. In the past, they would have sold their freshly picked red cherries directly to private traders in the area at low rates.

Sasaba coffee featured
in coffee auction

Now, the Sasaba washing station pays them a premium for their coffee (as long as it meets the quality standards of the mill). In fact, the coffee from ten of these farmers was individually processed by Sasaba and auctioned through the 2018 Operation Cherry Red Auction, earning the farmers even more for their produce.

“Sasaba does not grow alone” Tsegay Hagos Tesfaye

Tsegay Hagos knows that the success of the Sasaba mill is closely tied to that of the smallholders. “Sasaba does not grow alone”, he says, adding, “We support our farmers and train them, so they can one day export their own coffee.”

The company has a very close relationship with the farmers who it works with, always ready to lend a helping hand – whether it means transportation for medical emergencies or loans during the lean months of the rainy season.

“We are by their side, whatever happens”, says Tsegay, “and because of that, they are by ours”, he adds. This leads to a positive spiral, with both smallholder and mill benefiting from better coffee and better sales.

Processing at Sasaba

At Sasaba washing station, the red cherries are collected from late October until December and brought to the Sasaba washing station. Cherries, intended for washed processing, are processed on-site and fermented for about 48 to 72 hours before they are placed on the drying beds for around 7 to 8 days. The natural coffees are usually dried for 15 to 20 days.

Wonberta General Import & Export PLC

After the coffee is washed and slow-dried at Sasaba, it is sent off to Wonberta’s warehouses in Addis Ababa in parchment form where it awaits final color sorting and processing before export. The company has its own trucks, warehouses, sorting, and processing facilities, meaning it is in control of every step.

This makes it easier to maintain high-quality standards all the way to export, ensuring that the fruity and vibrant flavors of Sasaba coffee make it safe and untouched to coffee enthusiasts around the world.

Sasaba and Trabocca

We cupped the Sasaba coffees in 2012 and were immediately attracted to the very pronounced, clean, and sweet profiles with strong stone-fruit flavors. A year later we visited the washing station during one of our field trips. Our Land Cruisers could not handle the rough road, so we left them behind and hopped on a Soviet-Era Kamas truck with a 6-wheel drive to reach Tsegaye’s station.

We arrived and Tsegaye welcomed us to Sasaba. Upon seeing how Tsegaye organized the production, we knew that Sasaba coffees had a lot of potential. We started to work together in 2013, and to this day Sasaba remains one of our finest Ethiopian coffees that we deliver to roasters worldwide.

Technical

Information

Region

guji

Certifications

Non-Certified

Processes

Natural, Washed

Varieties

Mixed Heirloom

Altitude

2150 - 2150 masl.

Producer

Tsegay Hagos Tesfaye

Traceability

of supply-chain

  1. 1. Sasaba smallholders


    507 smallholders, working in the hills of Kercha (Guji), collect cherries and deliver these to the Sasaba washing station.
  2. 2. Sasaba Washing Station


    At Sasaba Washing Station, cherries are pulped, fermented for 48 to 72 hours, and then dried for 7 to 8 days.
  3. 3. Sasaba Drying Station


    Besides washed coffees, Sasaba produces natural coffees that dry for 15, or even 20, days depending on the weather.
  4. 4. Wonberta Dry Mill


    Tsegay Hagos owns trucks, warehouses, and a dry mill in Addis Ababa to process the Sasaba coffee.
  5. 5. Wonberta General Import & Export PLC


    Tsegay also launched his own Addis Ababa-based export operation. Because Tsegay oversees the entire supply chain, he is able to ensure the quality we find each harvest.
  6. 6. Shipping line


    As Trabocca, we work directly (as opposed to via third parties) with ocean lines, transport providers, and warehouses to negotiate fair prices and timely service.
  7. 7. Warehouses


    Trabocca has long-standing, proven relationships with over 15 warehouses globally. The Sasaba coffee can be found in our USA and EU based warehouses.
  8. 8. Trabocca


    Besides selecting the finest Sasaba lots and providing logistical services, we check the quality of this coffee extensively. Type, stock, pre-shipment, and spot samples are all cupped by our Q Graders in Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, and Minneapolis.
  9. 9. You


    And finally, the Sasaba coffee arrives at your roasting facilities doorstep. Ready to be roasted and consumed by your audience.

Timeline

of Sasaba washing station

2005

Tsegaye establishes the Sasaba Washing Station.

2012

As Trabocca, we receive Sasaba samples that capture our attention.

2013

A few Trabocca team members visit Tsegay’s Sasaba and discuss how to work together.

2018

Tsegay submits coffees from a select group of smallholders. This micro-lot is featured in Trabocca’s 2018 Operation Cherry Red Auction.

Pictures & links

of Sasaba washing station