Skip to main content

Farm and Production Data

Association name: Guji Highlands
Region: Guji
Altitude (masl): 2000-2150
Farm size (HA): 478 in total
Soil type: Loam
Harvest season: Nov to Jan
Resting time: 3 weeks
Average production per tree (kg): 15 – 20 kg of cherries
Fermentation for washed coffees: 48 to 72 depending on temperature and humidity
Average trees planted per hectare: 3500-4000
Drying notes: Raised beds, 21 days for natural, 14 days for washed
Final moisture goal: 11%
Varieties: Heirloom varieties
Process: Washed and natural

Cup Profile

Kompleks | Steinfrukt | Floral | Blåbær 86.5 points

Other Data

Number of people employed at farm 16 permanent workers
Pickers’ wage: 5 bira per kg
Price paid to workers: 70 to 120 bira per day

About the Guji Highlands Organization

Guji Highlands is an organization that cultivates coffee, purchases cherries from other farmers, and processes the coffee in various washing stations, including:
• The Guji Highland farm
• The Guji Highland Washing Station for washed and naturals, 1800 masl
• The Guji Highland Station for naturals only, located on the Guji Highlands Farm, 2100 masl
• Mormora Estate and Mormora Station for naturals
• Gidhe A and Gidhe B Stations for naturals.
Guji Highlands also provide financing for their farmers, and assist with technical and agricultural advice. All of their farms, and the farms where they source their cherries, are forest farms. The land is leased from the government for 40 years and it is strictly forbidden to cut trees or kill wild animals.
The coffee is certified organic. The Farm Manager, Quality Advisor and Certification Advisor of Guji Highlands is Yishak Assefa.


Ethiopian coffees notoriously change the perceptions of coffee drinkers about what coffee can taste like. This is no doubt due to the amazing genetic variety the ‘birthplace of coffee’ boasts; the vast majority of coffee
varieties here have yet to be even categorized. This is perhaps why Ethiopia’s coffee sector is so protective, making it one of the most frustrating origins for sourcing. Navigating Ethiopia’s labyrinthine and everchanging coffee politics make finding trustworthy partners absolutely vital. The birthplace of coffee is arguably the most
challenging place to work in for a coffee buyer. Coffee is not only an important export commodity; Ethiopian locals are also high consumers of coffee, making for dynamic and competitive local marketplaces. Added to this
are protective trade laws and policies that sometimes change overnight without warning.
Combined with the most exotic and unique cup profiles and thousands upon thousands of notyet- known coffee varieties, we suppose it is only fitting that the “Queen of Coffee Origins” is as multi-faceted as she is.

The ECX now relies on an electronic auction system for access to data related to a particular product and all related transactions. Not only will this ensure that information stays with the product being sold, it allows a massive expansion of amounts and types of criteria that can be traded along with the product. For coffee, full traceability means reliable data pertaining to where the coffee was grown, down to the Woreda (district) or washing station. It also means better physical or sensorial data such as cup score, moisture content, and water activity of the coffee. Additionally, the ECX has revised its grading system for both washed and sundried coffees to improve the accuracy, reliability and consistency of scores. Our long-time partner in the region, Heleanna Georgalis of Moplaco, was initially skeptical about the promised changes. She has been in Ethiopia long enough to know promises and action are often not the same thing. However on our latest trip to Ethiopia Heleanna was
optimistic, and said the changes have been successful thus far. For the first time in many years, she is encouraged by the direction the ECX is headed.


Garden coffee:
Coffee grown and harvested on smallholder property.
Semi-forest coffee:
Coffee that grows under a forest canopy. The land below the canopy belongs to a farmer who produces coffee in addition to other crops.
Forest coffee:
Coffee grown in forests protected by the Ethiopian government. People are given permission to harvest cherries. No peopleinduced cultivation is allowed.
Plantation coffee: coffee grown on privately owned commercial farms.
Coffee farmers owning smaller plots of land.
A person that bought coffee cherries and in turn sold to suppliers (i.e. washing stations). In the current version of the ECX, there are no longer collectors.
Washing stations that are owned by a private.

There are three ‘windows’ for buying coffee in Ethiopia: (1) Directly from a private estate that can export their own coffee; (2) From a cooperative that is represented by a union that acts as the exporter; (3) From a private exporter that has a license to buy coffee from the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX).
The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX) was established in 2008 and is a private company made up of both private parties and the Ethiopian government. Initially, smallholders sold their cherries to a ‘collector’, who in turn sold to suppliers/washing stations. Collectors had to obtain licenses in order to buy from their specific areas (e.g. Kochere). They were only allowed to buy from their specific areas.
Once processed by a washing station, coffee was delivered to the auction in Addis and were cupped and graded by the Coffee Liquoring Unity (CLU). Auctions happened every day and exporters had the opportunity to see, but not cup the samples, and together with knowing the coffee’s region, made their purchasing decisions.
In the next version of the auction, which was implemented quite soon after the first, collectors were eliminated, and centralized marketplaces were implemented. Rather than suppliers buying from collectors or specific smallholders, they bought from centralized markets and cherry prices are based on ‘market price’.


The ECX has grown quite expansively over the years. Of the 600,000+ metric tons of product sold through the exchange, coffee makes up only 3,000 metric tons. Still, 6.5 million pounds is no small number, and requires a
large amount of infrastructure.
The inception of the ECX was a step backwards for the specialty coffee industry. In the process of being sold on the ECX, coffee lost all traceability. Not only did coffee origins become anonymous beyond a region, information
about the cup profile was also often unavailable until after a coffee was
Fortunately, the ECX is improving, and for this harvest we have seen huge steps taken to keep the coffee, and its vital information, together.