Kebede Maro is a private medium-sized producer. He is mainly producing naturals. He is located in the woreda of Konga where they are well known for producing some of the best lots from Yirgacheffe. Individual farmers in Ethiopia have been given more freedom to export their own coffee in recent years, but few farmers know where to start. They are not able to reach the importers or roasters on their own, so many continue to sell their coffee to washing stations where they earn a fixed price, and lose their identity by being blended into larger lots. Kebede therefore advises fellow farmers on how to harvest and dry coffee for the specialty market. Mr.Kebede Maro is 68 years old and has 21 children, five boys and sixteen girls. Two of his sons and three of his daughters are currently studying in high school while three sons and twelve daughters have all graduated high school.
The family members of the smallholder farmers pick small amounts of coffee that they process directly on a farm. In many cases, they sort cherries before delivery.
Processed as a natural, it is dried for about 15 days on African drying beds on shade nets or hessian cloths and constantly rotated for airflow. Cherries are covered in plastic or shade nets at night to avoid mould.
After drying, the coffees will be packed in jute bags and stored in the local warehouse onsite, separated by process and grade. Lot sizes can vary from 30 - 100 bags. This process helps condition the coffee and achieve a more uniform humidity. They will normally be stored one to two months before they are moved.
The marketing agent will then deliver the dried parchment to a local ECX warehouse that will grade the coffees from Grade 1 – Grade 5, depending on the physical qualities as well as the flavour profile. After grading the farmer will, in most cases, engage a marketing agent to represent them. The agent will store various coffee lots in the private coffee hulling facility at Dilla, where the coffee will sit in parchment. The coffee remains in parchment until it is contracted and the destination for shipment is confirmed.