Green Coffee Outlook – Ethiopia Edition September 2021

5 containers of Ethiopian coffee arrived in Oakland. Here’s when you can expect them.

UPDATE September 17th:

Exactly 1 container’s been released to us since publishing this post, a box filled with mid-sized lots from Western Ethiopia. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to turn around the coffee to our own warehouse fast enough to get something listed today. We promise to add a few Ethiopia’s next week, including two coffees from the Gera region, Genji Challa and Telila. Thanks again for your patience!


I hope I don’t sound like I’m griping in this post, as there’s a lot to be excited about. 5 containers of Ethiopian coffees are here, now, in Oakland, and all signs point to them being available next week. There are so many coffees it will take us weeks to list them all! There are some heavy hitting wet mills represented in these arrivals, and based on the samples we cupped, we expect big things. Their path to Oakland has been less than normal, however, and most of what’s caused the delays is out of our control. Here’s a more granular update on Ethiopia specifically to help you plan ahead – what you can expect, and when you can expect them – and some ramblings about what’s at the heart of the shipping delays that have plagued much of 2021. Thanks for your patience! -Dan

We are going into the first week of September, and still waiting for the bulk of our Ethiopian coffees to become available. 24 lots of wet and dry process coffees just arrived in Oakland, but our patience continues to be tested by long queues to process incoming shipments at the port and offsite storage facilities. It’s frustrating, to say the least, but is starting to look like the “A” in “ETA” is finally within reach.

So when exactly will you see new Ethiopias on the site? Other than a blip of a dry process on September the 3rd, we expect to start listing the coffee in groups in the next 2 weeks. That’s the short of it. Check out the longer answer below, with a list of the coffees on deck at the end (or just jump to the list).

If you’ve been following Green Coffee Outlooks, or the news for that matter, you’re well aware that we’re in the midst of a global shipping crisis. An exponential rise in demand for consumer goods has stretched land and sea freight well beyond its limits, triggering unprecedented delays due to a shortage on shipping containers, limited capacity on vessels, and the ability to process the record breaking volume of freight at ports here and abroad.

At the Hambela coffee mill, this whole coffee cherry laid to dry for 'naturals' is sifted through by hand in order to remove under and over ripe coffee.
At the Hambela coffee mill, this whole coffee cherry laid to dry for ‘naturals’ is sifted through by hand in order to remove under and over ripe coffee.

While this didn’t happen overnight, we started to see delays at the Oakland Port early this year, around the time that Ethiopian coffees began shipping from origin. By the time our first lots left the port of Djibouti in Ethiopia, container ship backups and materials shortages had worked their way across shipping routes, affecting both ends of the maritime journey, and all stops in between.

To give you an idea of how indirect and staggered some of these journeys have been, the 24 coffees that just arrived were packed into 5 different shipping containers, on different cargo ships, their departures staggered by as much as a month. But somehow along the way, long delays at transshipment ports, and a shortage of boat space, led to all 5 containers rendezvousing at a transfer port onto a single boat for the final leg of their journey. Sure, that makes tracking them all a lot easier. But the time it tacked onto the overall trip is a real bummer.

Even now that the coffees have finally landed, the wait is far from over. It’s currently taking the Port of Oakland 2 weeks on average to process incoming cargo. Then the coffee is moved by tractor trailer to our offsite storage facility where it takes another 1-2 weeks to unload, though we’re finding that the last part can take even longer if there are multiple lots in the container (shipping containers filled a single coffee are prioritized since they’re easier to unload then a container with a dozen different coffees – like most of our Guatemalan and Colombian shipments for example).

Thankfully we’re talking about Ethiopian coffee here, who happen to produce some of the most physically stable coffees in the world. As such, quality degradation is not a concern. Our July Ethiopia arrivals were nearly 3 months late and the coffee tasted as fresh as the offer samples from origin. If you had the pleasure of buying any of those coffees when they were available (Worka Wuri, Ajere, Chele’lektu, Aricha, etc), you know what I’m talking about!

Workers turn the parchment covered coffee as it dries on raised beds at the Nano Challa site, Gera region.
Workers turn the parchment covered coffee as it dries on raised beds at the Nano Challa site, Gera region.

This is just one of the realities of the “Direct Trade” model. Exporting coffee directly from origin exposes you to risks like these, or if you’re really unlucky, it could be even worse. Conversely, when you buy from the spot market, you’re able to choose from coffees that are available at that moment. No need to wait for delivery, and the samples you taste are representative of the coffee quality as it currently sits.

Think of the food truck owner who buys their meat from Costco. If Costco are out of the organic ground beef they normally buy, there are plenty of other stores with organic meat to fit their needs. It might not be the same price point, or even the same quality, but they are sure to be covered for business.

With Direct Trade, you own the product before it’s even shipped. If something happens to the coffee along the way, you own that coffee. Maybe it’s late and you’re unable to deliver on your wholesale orders in the contracted time. You still own that coffee, and as a consequence, your customer may buy from another importer. And if the coffee is damaged during the shipment? You still own that coffee.

Usually, routes and transit times are predictable, leaving little room for error. But now and then, things go awry, and when they do, there’s little recourse to cover your investment. Even if you have the option to reject the coffee due to quality, a practice we do everything we can to avoid, it’s generally the farmer who shoulders such a loss (sadly, and with a touch of irony, we hear such stories from importers, roasters who boast their “Direct Trade” biz model, “paying a fair price to farmers”, etc, only to reject coffee on arrival for even the slightest change in quality…not good).

Jute bags filled with green coffee in the storage facility at the Ayetu private mill in Gera, Oromia region of Ethiopia
Jute bags filled with green coffee preparing for export at a private mill in Gera, Oromia region of Ethiopia

Don’t get me wrong, we choose the Direct Trade model because it works best for our needs. Having a direct hand in the negotiations affords us a greater level of price transparency, and gives us the opportunity to buy coffee from farmers in areas we’re interested to work in, the impact of which we often get to see through repeat visits. At the end of the day, we get to buy the coffees we want, rather than what’s offered on an importer’s list of spot coffees, which is well worth the risk.

If nothing else, this year presented us an opportunity to look at different ways of moving our coffee. The West Coast ports seemed to take the brunt of the congestion, so the East Coast became a real option, moving the coffee cross country by rail or truck. That sounds indirect, but actually saves quite a bit of time given the circumstances, justifying the added cost of logistics in our opinion.

Below is the list of Ethiopian coffees that await unloading in Oakland. So many familiar names here that we’ve carried in previous seasons who produce competition quality coffees like Genji/Nano Challa, Hambela Dabaye, Dambi Uddo, and more. Most are from washing stations that serve hundreds, if not more than a thousand farmers in the region, though a few are single farm estates (identified by “Aba” in the name (a title of respect, generally meaning “father”).

We hope to start trickling these to the list in the next two weeks. What order they go up in depends on when the shipping containers are unloaded. We will firm up our plan next week when we have more info. Expect an update in the 9/10 newsletter.

*Check out all the newly listed coffees on Sweet Maria’s HERE or Coffee Shrub HERE

Ethiopia Arrivals

BagsSizeETA
Ethiopia Agaro Genji Challa3060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Kecho Anderecha4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Honey Process Genji Challa4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Agaro Telila4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Mahamed Aba Nura5060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Nebso Aba Geda4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Limu Musa Aba Lulesa4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Mansur Aba Hikam4060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Daanisa10060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Bookkisa7560 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Sookoo Birbissa5060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Dambi Udo10060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Dari10060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Goro12060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Dabaye12060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Benti Nenka10060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Hambela Benti Nenka5060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Hambela Dabaye5060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Buliye10060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Guji Bukusayisa6060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Shakiso Allona8060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Goro Bedesa8060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Bekele Basha5060 KGLANDED
Ethiopia Dry Process Bekele Belayecho4560 KGLANDED

Upcoming green coffees currently on the schedule to be added to our website:

Please keep in mind that the coffees on the Upcoming Coffee Outlook schedule with a location status of “In Transit” are still a bit of a wild card, and the month we have them listed under is based on the current shipping ETA, and subject to interruptions out of our control. Thanks for your patience!

September Coffee Outlook

Sweet Maria’s Altiplano BlendOakland
Costa Rica Don Mayo La Loma3846 KGOakland
Costa Rica Yellow Honey Process Las Anonas1569 KGOakland
Cascara Helsar Cascara Coffee Fruit Tea504 KGOakland
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Refisa7060 KGOakland
El Salvador Matalapa Calagual2069 KGOakland
Ethiopia Dry Process Hambela Dabaye12060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Dry Process Dambi Udo10060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Daanisa10060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Hambela Dabaye5060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Jimma Kecho Anderecha4060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Dry Process Mahamed Aba Nura5060 KGOakland
Ethiopia Honey Process Genji Challa4060 KGOakland
Guatemala Patzun Finca Las Camelias3546 KGOakland
Guatemala Huehuetenango Boqueroncito1669 KGOakland
Honduras Lempira Doña Muñoz2469 KGOakland
Honduras Ruta del Cafe SWP Decaf1060 KGOakland
India Monsoon Malabar AA1050 KGOakland
Kenya Nyeri Gatugi AA5160 KGOakland
Kenya Nyeri Ichamama AB3160 KGOakland
Kenya Embu Gakui Peaberry1160 KGOakland
Kenya Kiambu Fram Farm Peaberry1060 KGOakland
Kenya Kiambu Mandela AA1260 KGOakland
Kenya Nyeri Ndimaini Peaberry1360 KGOakland
Kenya Nyeri Chinga AB2260 KGOakland
Kenya Nyeri Karinga Peaberry1460 KGOakland
Nicaragua Los Papales SWP Decaf5460 KGOakland
Nicaragua Buenos Aires Los Pinos3069 KGOakland
Nicaragua Ojo de Agua4069 KGOakland
Peru El Palto SWP Decaf4069 KGOakland
Sweet Maria's Coffee Shrub Coffee Sourcerer
Sweet Maria’s Coffee Shrub Coffee Sourcerer

Incoming coffees currently on the water:

Africa Incoming Coffees

Ethiopia Organic Agaro Duromina8060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Agaro Nano Challa6060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Agaro Kedamai6060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Kennisa Cooperative6060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Geta Bore6060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Banko Chelchelle12060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Dry Process Guji Uraga10060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Dry Process Dikitu5060 KGSep 6
Ethiopia Uraga Raro12060 KGSep 18
Ethiopia Dry Process Nensebo Refisa8060 KGSep 18
Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe Chelchele12060 KGSep 18
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Mengesha Gumi4060 KGSep 25
Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Yohanes Degoma3560 KGSep 25
Rwanda Kivu Kageyo5060 KGOct 20
Rwanda Peaberry5060 KGOct 20
Rwanda Karongi Gitesi3560 KGOct 20
Rwanda Nyamasheke Gitwe5060 KGOct 20
Rwanda Rulindo Tumba4060 KGOct 20
Rwanda Nyamasheke Gatare5060 KGOct 20
Rwanda Nyamasheke Mutovu5060 KGOct 20

Central America Incoming Coffees

Costa Rica Don Senel El Jocote1069 KGSept 5
Costa Rica Honey Process Las Anonas1569 KGSept 5
Costa Rica Honey Process Monte Brisas3069 KGSept 5
Costa Rica Chirripo Corazon de Jesus4769 KGSept 5
Costa Rica Rio Jorco Tarbaca1069 KGSept 5
Nicaragua La Bastilla Estate8769 KGSept 5
Guatemala Huehuetenago Finca Los Suspiros1269 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Pena Roja1269 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Punta del Cerro1669 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Punta del Cerro AA2369 KGAug 12
Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca Rosma2069 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul San Gaspar Ixchil3269 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul San Pedro Necta2669 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Tuiloj2069 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Santa Barbara2069 KGAug 12
Guatemala Xinabajul Producers2769 KGAug 12
Guatemala Chimaltenango San Martin Jilotepeque Lot 15546 KGAug 12
Guatemala Chimaltenango San Martin Jilotepeque Lot 28046 KGAug 12
Guatemala Acatenango Gesha Lot 33546 KGAug 12
Guatemala Huehuetenango Boqueroncito Lot 11869 KGSep 15
Guatemala Huehuetenango Boqueroncito Lot 22069 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Donaldo Villatoro2369 KGSep 15
Guatemala Michicoy Finca Rosma1669 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Flavio Martinez1869 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Gonzalo Perez1669 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Guilmer Castillo2169 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Herlindo Villatoro2369 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul La Libertad2169 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Productores de Peña3069 KGSep 15
Guatemala Libertad Punta Del Cerro3669 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Santiago Lopez969 KGSep 15
Guatemala Xinabajul Producers3269 KGSep 15

South America Incoming Coffees

Colombia Buesaco EA Decaf5569 KGSep 20
Colombia Caicedo Ruben Gomez1669 KGSep 20
Colombia Buesaco Nubia Chates669 KGSep 20
Colombia Buesaco Alianza Granjeros2269 KGSep 20
Colombia Narino Vereda Pompeya1369 KGSep 20
Colombia Honey Aponte2269 KGSep 20
Colombia Honey El Páramo3369 KGSep 20
Colombia Vereda San Antonio2069 KGSep 20
Inzá Las EstrellasColombia1469 KGSep 20
Colombia Inzá Rio Paez2069 KGSep 20
Colombia Cresta El Hato1569 KGSep 20
Colombia Inzá Veredas Vecinas4669 KGSep 20

Indonesia Incoming Coffees

Sumatra Lintong Sigumpar Village3060 KGOct 13
Sumatra Honey Process Auliya1560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Wet Hulled Ribang Gayo2560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Wet Process Ribang Gayo2560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Dry Process Ribang Gayo1060 KGOct 13
Sumatra Aceh Bebesen Auliya4060 KGOct 13
Java Tambak Ruyung3060 KGOct 13
Sumatra Kerinci Gunung Tujuh5060 KGOct 13
Sumatra Wet Process Kerinci Gunung Tujuh2560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Honey Process Kerinci Gunung Tujuh2560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Honey Labu Gunung Tujuh2560 KGOct 13
Sumatra Dry Process Gunung Tujuh2060 KGOct 13
India Honnamatti Estate Ruiru2060 KGOct 13
India Organic Araku Valley2060 KGOct 13
India Mahaveer Estate2060 KGOct 13

13 Responses

  1. Not only is this a great update on the Ethiopian coffee situation but it’s the kind of valuable information and perspective that every Sweet Maria’s and/or Shrub customer should read, in my opinion, because it really drives home what an incredible job of sourcing you do – and how very lucky I am to be a customer. Thanks to you I’m drinking much better coffees than I ever did when I was the buyer for a few million pounds a year at Allegro Coffee (and we won’t even talk about my Starbucks years). Thank you so much for all that you do!

    1. Wow, thanks for the kinds words! It means a lot coming from you. And I’d love to talk about your Starbucks years sometime, btw. Maybe over an iced Frappuccino at the Pike Place Market? Haha. Truly though, being a customer of SM before I was an employee, I relate to that sentiment. Hope to have some fresh Ethiopia’s ready to roll sooner than later…

      Best,
      Dan

  2. It’s always exciting to see your Ethiopian coffees coming. But there’s something I’ve wanted to ask for a long time. The best coffee I’ve had in my life — and I’m 77 — was the blueberry harar you had several years ago. Tastes vary, of course, and I’m definitely not a supertaster, but still… Whatever happened to coffee from Harar?

    1. Hello Rudy,

      That’s a question we get a lot as a matter of fact! Harrar holds an almost mythical place in so many coffee drinkers minds (myself included), which I think has something to do with its long history of coffee production and promotion of the region specifically (whether the coffee was actually from there or not!). But also as you mentioned, the association of a “blueberry” flavor to coffees from this region seems to be prevalent. Some of my earliest experiences of tasting coffee difference was with dry process coffee from Harrar, which certainly made a lasting impression on me.

      But the short answer to your question is that we’re just finding better quality naturals to the west of Harrar, in places like Yirga Cheffe and Jimma. I’d say between those two, some of the Jimma coffees we buy are probably the closest to the more rustic fruit profile of Harrar, even with the occasional blueberry note. First and foremost though, if you’re looking for a replacement for Harrar, you have to stick with dry process coffees. Those are generally going to be the “hit you over the head”, fruit-bomb type coffees. We have a few dry process Jimma’s here now, and I’d be curious to hear what you think in comparison to your memory of that blueberry Harrar you mentioned (I recommend any of the ones with “Aba” in the name – last year’s Aba Hikam was particularly nice).

      We tend to let the coffee speak for itself, so you can rest assured if we DO find a stellar coffee from Harrar, we will definitely pick it up!

      Hope this helps.

      -Dan

  3. Interesting article on the logistics of your excellent coffee sourcing.
    Like many Americans in The U.S. I discovered the taste of excellent often custom roasted coffee in Europe in1960. I brought a small electric espresso maker home with me only to discover I could not source coffee beans or even coffee grinders. In The 1970’s soon after the opening of Starbucks near the PIke Place market, and a largish coffee wholesale/retail warehouse on pier 70 I began buying green beans and roasting them in a black iron fry pan. And grinding fresh each day. Currently I roast in a converted Chicken rotisserie with a modified Behmor tumbler installed. I much appreciate the rating charts you publish and deliver to my inbox. I generally limit myself to 2 bean choices per order then blend them. some friend and acquaintances say the result is the best they have ever had. So thanks for what you do so well.

    1. Hi George, I love hearing about people’s different pathways into coffee, especially when they pre-date the wide availability of roasting/brewing appliances we have today. Sounds like you’re from the Pac NW too. I’d love to know more about the importer on Pier 70. I was aware of it having a history in imported goods, but has been retail as long as I’ve been alive. We also really enjoy seeing custom roasters. Drop me a photo if you feel so inclined – [email protected].

      Thanks again for your comment!

      Dan

  4. Wow, this is amazing, thank you for posting this valuable information.

    This helps me plan my coffee buying. Well done, Sweet Marias!!

    1. Hi Chris, glad this helps you plan ahead! Fingers crossed for more info on those arrivals by tomorrow. Look out for an update by next Wednesday’s newsletter.

      Best,
      Dan

  5. Hooray for Ethiopians! I can’t wait to try some of these, both wet and dry processed. I have been blown away by some of the flavors I have noted in my limited experience with the dry process beans, but I also love the brightness and sweetness of the wet processed beans. Also, excited to add some Rwandans, Guatemalans, and to try some Indian beans. I am so grateful that there is so much variety to match my enthusiasm, and I certainly appreciate all the labor and effort that goes into getting these coffees into our cups!

  6. Oo….so many Ethiopian ones on the list, I don’t know what to choose!
    Can’t wait Sumatras to list either. Did I miss the boat on the other Yemenis already (except for the Al-Qafr Hawari listed)?

    Thank you for posting this because it is really helpful. I feel like a kid in a candy store. 🙂

    1. Hey Lisa, glad the preview is useful!

      You’re right, there are SO many Ethiopias that it’s impossible for us to list them all at once! We’re sneaking Genji Challa up today. It should go live in the next couple of hours, actually. We have two more going up on Friday, including the dry process Aba Nura. The plan is to list 3 a week until we have 9 or 10 listed.

      We have a single Sumatra that just landed and should be available in a couple of weeks.

      And sadly, you did miss the other Yemeni coffees :-(. We’re in the process of sorting out next year’s coffee now, but unfortunately, don’t expect those reinforcements until early next year.

      Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!

      -Dan

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