Ethiopia

Suke Quto Farm

About

Suke Quto Farm

Suke Quto

Highlights

  • Suke Quto coffees are the flagship of the Guji coffee flavor.
  • Tesfaye Bekele, the founder of Suke Quto Farm, is one of the pioneers of Guji coffee.
  • Suke Quto coffees are Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified.

Tesfaye’s story

Ato Tesfaye Bekele is one of the people that put Guji specialty coffee on the map. While the Guji zone was dominated by cattle farmers, he sought new ways to make coffee popular in Guji. “I don’t consider myself to be a coffee farmer, because coffee is everything to me. All my time and energy are placed into the beans that I harvest and process.” Tesfaye Bekele, the founder of Suke Quto Farm, explains.

“I come from a coffee-producing family, so during my childhood, I started to work with coffee early on”, Tesfaye continues, “At first, coffee did not have my interest. The labor was hard, and the days were long. But after several years of study and other work I returned to my home in the Shakisso woreda, Guji. I found myself in coffee again”.

The bushfires of Guji

Tesfaye started to work in Natural Resource and Environmental Protection for the government of Ethiopia. He was responsible for the Guji and Borena zone. At that time, Guji and Borena were one administrative zone. From 1997 to 1999 Guji was terrorized by large bushfires that destroyed 5000 forest acres. A true crisis for the Guji people that often remained clueless about the cause of the fires. Tesfaye had the grand responsibility to rebuild and find new ways to conserve the area.

“After the fires, locals returned to the lands to change these in agricultural fields. They started to produce teff and maize, for instance.” Tesfaye, as a responsible government official, realized that he could not stop people from returning to these deforested lands to rebuild their livelihoods. He needed to give people an alternative. “I came with the idea to replant the forests and also add coffee trees to enhance diversity. The local community agreed to my proposal and they asked me to provide the coffee seedlings.”

Tesfaye becomes a coffee farmer

Tesfaye distributed large amounts of coffee seedlings among the community. He rented a big truck and started to divide this evenly. “People started to ask me how long it would take before this crop starts to yield cherries. I answered, ‘four to five years’, they gave the seedlings back to me after hearing this”. Disappointed by the lack of faith among his community, Tesfaye reserved a piece of land. Upon this small plot, he started a coffee seedling nursery with government money. Tesfaye wanted to prove that his idea to preserve Guji’s forest was the best alternative for the Guji people.

Tesfaye appointed several managers to overlook his nurturing ground, but all found the job not appealing because of years without tangible results. He could not find eager people, so he resigned from his job and became a coffee farmer. After his first harvest, the community, that first rejected the idea, returned to Tesfaye. “First, they run away, but later they came back and asked me to provide coffee seedlings. I am very proud of this idea because all the farms you see today in Guji are inspired by the Suke Quto Farm.”

The Suke Quto Farm

Suke Quto Farm is stretched out over the high lands and valleys of the Odo Shakisso woreda. The volcanic soil found on the farm is very fertile. Tesfaye keeps the soil in shape by organic recycling through litterfall, root residue from coffee and shade trees. Suke Quto coffees are all Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified.

Tesfaye works together with 171 outgrowers that deliver cherries to the Suke Quto Washing and Drying Station. Besides partnering up with outgrowers, he owns another 221 hectares in the highlands of Guji. More than 200 seasonal workers are needed to pick and process the Suke coffees.

Suke Quto Washing Station

At the Suke Quto Washing Station, the washed coffees are pulped with an Agared machine. This is a pulper that has no mucilage remover. The coffee beans are fermented for about 35-48 hours (depending on the current weather) in fermentation tanks. There are three lagoons to store the wastewater. Suke’s natural coffees are dried between 9 and 15 days on elevated beds.

Tesfaye focusses on environmentally friendly coffee and on the economic growth of the community. In other words, people should get a living income from sustainable coffee production. Tesfaye also initiated a community project that aims to renew local schools. With a handful of dedicated coffee roasters, Tesfaye has built a new school building in the neighboring village Kurume.

Together with Haile Gebre, from Shakisso Farm, Tesfaye is one of the innovative forces that shaped the success of Guji coffee.

Trabocca and Tesfaye

In 2009, Tesfaye sent Trabocca samples. After cupping his coffee, we contacted Tesfaye to inform him that we found the quality disappointing. Tesfaye did not believe this. He took the next flight and delivered another sample in person. The coffee was outstanding. It turned out that the first sample was not even from Suke Quto Farm. After this confusing but memorable start, we have worked together closely to upgrade the quality of Suke Quto coffee.

As Trabocca, we pay for the farm’s organic certification and grant premiums to the Suke Quto Farm if quality standards are met. “Trabocca is our main buyer,” Tesfaye explains, “We sell our coffee to them every year and they are distributing it throughout the world. Trabocca is very serious about quality control and brought us to the level at which we are now, where we are very proud of our product.”

Technical

Information

Region

guji

Certifications

Organic, Rainforest Alliance

Processes

Washed, Natural, Pulped Natural

Varieties

Kurume, Welicho

Altitude

1800 - 2200 masl.

Producer

Tesfaye Bekele

Cupping notes

Traceability

of supply-chain

  1. 1. Suke Quto Outgrowers


    Tesfaye collects cherries from 287 neighboring outgrowers.
  2. 2. Suke Quto Farm


    Besides partnering with outgrowers, Tesfaye hires seasonal workers to pick cherries at the farm and to work at the washing station.
  3. 3. Suke Quto Washing Station


    At Suke Quto Washing cherries are pulped and ferment for 35-48 hours in large bins. Then, the parchment is dried on raised African drying beds for +/- 7 days.
  4. 4. Suke Quto Drying Station


    Or, cherries are brought to the Suke Quto Drying Station. Tesfaye dries cherries for 9 - 15 days.
  5. 5. Mordecofe PLC Drymill


    The Suke Quto coffees are milled at Haile Gebre's Mordecofe PLC Drymill in Addis Ababa. Haile and Tesfaye go way back and still work together on a daily basis.
  6. 6. Tade GG


    Tesfaye exports his coffee under the name Tade GG.
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. Warehouses


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


    Besides selecting the finest Suke Quto 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. We are the main importer of Tesfaye's Suke Quto coffee.
  10. 10. You


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

Timeline

of Suke Quto Farm

1997

Tesfaye starts to work in Natural Resource and Environmental Protection.

1998

Large bushfires terrorize Guji zone and destroy 5000 acres of forest land. Tesfaye is tasked to solve this problem in Guji.

1999

Tesfaye spreads seedlings, but locals refuse because the crop only starts to yield after five years.

2000

Tesfaye establishes Suke Quto Farm and coffee seedling nursery.

2005

Tesfaye is one of Haile Gebre’s most successful and largest outgrower.

2009

Tesfaye starts his own export business under the name Tade GG.

2009 - 2010

Tesfaye sends the first samples to Menno.

2020

In cooperation with Fairfood and Tesfaye, we have set up blockchain technology so you can trace back the Suke coffee to the backyards of 278 outgrowers.

Suke Quto blockchain project

Pictures & links

of Suke Quto Farm