The Wicho washing station is situated in the Dale woreda, Sidamo zone – near the town of Yirga Alem. The area around Wicho is enriched by a diverse topography, including mountain ranges, plateaus, and high valleys between these heights. Smallholders in this area grow their own unique varietals on small patches of land and send their cherries to the Wicho washing station. This results in a blend of “mixed heirloom” that reveals the diversity and complexity of Sidamo coffees.
At the Wicho site, the cherries are rinsed in clean water, then taken to the pulpery and fermented between 36 and 48 hours. The coffee is washed for an additional 12 hours and cleansed before taken to the shaded African beds. The station’s personnel have a tight grip on the drying process and make sure parchment is continuously stirred and moisture levels are thoroughly checked.
Wicho was established in 1961, but the current owner, Ato Yitbarek Tilahun, started working at the site in 2010. Yitbarek is a second-generation processor with over 15 years of experience in coffee processing. He learned the trade from his father, Ato Tilahun. For Yitbarek, coffee is like a child, that needs the utmost attention and care during processing. Yitbarek explains, “I can’t imagine my life without coffee. Coffee is like a good elder son to me. I take care of coffee, and coffee takes care of me in return”. Yitbarek improves his product every harvest by refining the processing techniques to meet the expectations of the coffee roaster.