Ethiopia Harar and Dire Dawa

A wonderful trip to the Western coffee area of Harar from back in 2008.

I traveled solo to Eastern Ethiopia to meet up with the Ogsadey family. You know them as the Harar Horse exporter, who has had a strong relationship with US importers for many years.

They offered some of the best Ethiopia Harar coffees, and have a mill in Dire Dawa where they do extra cleaning and hand-sorting of all lots.

The central person in the MAO business is Abdirasid Ogsadey, a cousin of the patriarch Mohammed Abdullah Ogsadey, who passed away several years ago at the ripe age of … well, nobody can quite agree.

The sons of Mohammed Sr. are Abdullahi and Ledon Ogsadey, who mainly works with the trucking side of the business. Dire Dawa is on the rail line, and is the hub for coffee trading and transport to the sea ports of Djibouti. Harar city has no coffee trade, but the greater region of Harar, called Hararghe, is where all the coffee is grown that we call Harar.

I learned a lot on my trip, and am indebted to my hosts, who had just started fasting for Ramadan and were miraculously able to drive around with me far and wide. I spent a time in historic Harar city alone, to give them a break. 

It all ended up with me getting a fantastically bad haircut (by someone who SWORE he could cut “faranji” hair, no problem), a nice episode with a cockroach espresso at the Ras Hotel in Harar, and too much good food to even start to list. Oh, and the Hyena, feeding them raw meat. Tacky, I know. But the photos, wow!

I really love this place. -Tom, September 2008

4 Responses

  1. Enjoyed this. Found it by chance but glad I did. I spent an evening with the Ogsadeys some 30 years ago, nice people (to me at least) and they served up a feast too. At that time there were still a couple of old time traders in Harar, old man Ogsadey was one. I made several trips to Ethiopia when the Dirghe had just fallen. Kalishnikovs everywhere along with starving orphans.

    1. That was quite a time to see Harar / Dire Dawa. It seems like all the old Harar operations are gone now, but in some ways they sorta lorded over the coffee market there. So maybe there are some silver linings.

      Did you write for Tea & Coffee in the past ? A “European cafe scene report” ? I recall something like this …

  2. I have been roasting with your coffees since about 2000. I was remembering a blueberry blast harar horse from the early 2000s and stumbled upon your amazing write up while trying to find a harar horse bag. I really enjoyed all the notes on the photos. Your work over the years has resulted in a lot of joy. Jared

    1. That’s a long time ago ! I miss those harar coffees too. I keep looking for something new from harar but the crop is so small now and quality just doesn’t seem to be what it once was, sadly.

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