This month is all about one particular, and very very special Ethiopian co-operative: Duromina. It blew us away on arrival (again) and we couldn’t help but go all out and roast it for both Filter and Espresso brewing.

From the Agaro region of Jimma, Duromina is close to our hearts. We have hung our hats on this coffee for several years now, and there are many reasons why:

– our close relationship with the Co-Operative and it’s representative Union: Keta Muduga from who we purchase directly;
– our access to a selection of specific microlots as opposed to being shipped coffee ‘from the pile’ as in most cases;
– our control over export and import logistics because we buy directly from the Union and not via intermediary exporters or importers. Guys, this is super super rare. That a roaster and importer takes on all the risk is pretty unheard of; and we get rewarded by being able to pass on a bigger piece of the pie to the producers themselves, and we get special access to choose amongst separated lots from distinct harvest periods;
– our deepening understanding of the coffee itself and how it wants to be roasted. It’s not every Ethiopian Co-Op lot that can be equally as stunning as both filter and espresso roast profiles.

But above all, as we always say, it’s the intrinsic quality of the raw product that is the base of all goodness. And this particular Co-Operative has shown a consistency and improvement year on year that is hard to beat. This is impressive for Co-Operative coffee that relies entirely on the combined efforts of hundreds of small growers.

Ethiopian coffee is for us the most complexing, intriguing and exciting place to discover and learn about coffee. The cradle of humanity is also the birthplace of Coffee, where is still grows as an understory of native forests. Genetic diversity of the still thriving landraces is crazy, so it’s no wonder that on the complexity scale, a cup of Ethiopian coffee is off the charts. The socio-political role that coffee plays all over the country is fascinating, and every single time we visit we are again humbled by the history of this seed that now moves the world.

Read on for some more information on the important social role Duromina plays in the community and for the hundreds of small traditional land stewards who deliver their red cherries to the central processing stations.

And as always, we have some of our photos we’d like to share as well.

Preparing parchment samples of separated lots we’ll then select from
As an Espresso coffee we find a very interesting cuppa joe (potentially one that might challenge old Joe…). This is a great example of how expressive and different Ethiopian espresso coffee is. Sweet stewed fruits, cacao nibs and syrup make up the base of this coffee, and flavours of lime, oolong tea and ginger let you know it can only be from one place.

Another level of complexity is revealed when we lighten the roast for Filter brews. All of the heirloom’y aromatics and bright sparkly mouthfeel are on show. What a clean right and complex coffee this particular lot of Duromina is this year, one we selected from the middle of harvest period. We find ginger, butter cake, florals, toffee and lemonade. All of aromatics and clean white sugars we’ve come to expect from this Co-op over the years, but now we find an extra depth of caramel and buttery richness that makes for a very complete coffee.

 Andrew makes sure we get the right samples and that they’re fully traceable back to specific lots tht we’ll later request to be milled for us.
Importantly, what sets the Keta Muduga Co-Operatives apart is their level of investment into community infrastructure.

Duromina has contributed funding to build a health center; high school; road construction and power infrastructure for the community in collaboration with neighboring Co-Operatives Biftu Gudina and Hunda Oli that we also purchase from. Each for example is contributing a block to the new high school.

It took us several years to develop the strong relationship we have with the Union and we are proud to directly represent their coffees outside of private exporters and finance institutions. Exporting out of Ethiopia directly is incredibly complicated, bureaucratic and political: we are proud to finally say our bank loves their bank (albeit via European banks) and we can work completely independently. Why is it so important to purchase directly and upfront from Keta Muduga? The more vertically integrated the Union is in the value chain has a direct financial impact on the Birr/kg bonus each farmer receives; increases dividends enjoyed by member share-holders who choose to invest in their co-operative; and means there is more capital to invest into non-coffee related projects that benefit the wider community. It’s a no brainer but by no means easy. We sincerely hope you enjoy this very special coffee.

Thanks for your support and we hope you love the coffee. If you have any further questions please reach out to us at hello@smallbatch.com.au. Happy brewing!