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New illustrated guide highlights Ethiopia’s little-known Forest Coffee

Forest Coffee
picture credits: Ethiopia’s Forest Coffee: An Illustrated Guide

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – International nonprofit TechnoServe and Partnerships for Forests launched Ethiopia’s Forest Coffee: An Illustrated Guide, which provides practical information about Ethiopia’s wild-forest and semi-forest coffees. The publication is part of a broader initiative to drive awareness of these unique origins, create profitable markets for this coffee, and contribute to sustainable livelihoods and forest conservation in Ethiopia.

Arabica coffee originated as a wild plant growing in the forests of East Africa, and while it has been domesticated and cultivated around the world, it continues to grow in its original state in many parts of Ethiopia. Community members harvest and sell forest coffee, but it is little-known on the global market, as it is typically mixed with garden-grown or plantation-grown beans before export.

Partnerships for Forests, a project funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office of the United Kingdom, is working with TechnoServe to change that, building a market for this unique product in a bid to boost conservation. The forests where this coffee is found are important resources: they are ecosystems for a diverse range of flora and fauna; serve as an invaluable genetic bank for Arabica coffee varieties; and support the livelihoods of nearby communities. As Tayyese Tesfaye, chairman of the Gizmeret Multipurpose Cooperative in Bench Sheko zone, remarked, “We are living in the forest, working in the forest, and depending on the forest.”

Rural population growth and deforestation threaten the forests, but it is hoped that a more vibrant market for forest coffee will create strong incentives to protect the woodlands. To that end, TechnoServe and Partnerships for Forests have published the guide, which contains cupping scores and flavor profiles for samples from nearly 100 cooperatives and private mills in the zones of Illubabor, Jimma, Kaffa, Bench Sheko, and Bale. The guide also contains stories, maps, and photographs from Ethiopia’s forest coffee regions, as well as contact information for the cooperative unions that can facilitate coffee sales. An interactive map allows coffee roasters and others to learn about the coffee origins.

“We are thrilled to help shine a spotlight on Ethiopia’s forest coffee,” said Paul Stewart, TechnoServe’s global coffee director. “Not only do these coffees have extraordinary taste profiles, they also have a unique story and represent an enormous opportunity to support rural livelihoods and environmental conservation.”

Global specialty coffee trading house Falcon Coffees is partnering with TechnoServe to print and distribute the guide to its coffee-roasting partners.

“Ethiopia is probably the only origin where the manner in which coffee is farmed by smallholders protects tropical forests and the biodiversity within,” said Konrad Brits, CEO of Falcon Coffees. “This book captures the importance of this practice in the face of the climate crisis. Through fact and imagery, you will meet the communities that carry out this act of stewardship while producing some of Ethiopia’s finest coffees. This is an important book about people who need our support and whose work we need to champion.”

The guide and interactive map can be viewed at: https://www.technoserve.org/ethiopia-forest-coffee-illustrated-guide/

About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A non-profit organization operating in 30 countries, we work with hard-working men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.

Founded over 50 years ago, TechnoServe has been named the #1 nonprofit for fighting poverty by an independent charity ratings agency.

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