Samuel is among the 800 smallholder producers who deliver their coffee to the Bishan Dimo Washing Station. He is considered to be one of the station's model farmers, continually expanding and sharing his knowledge for the betterment of his community. He also works at the local elementary school in Danbi Uddo, earning him the nickname "the teacher-farmer, Mr. Samuel."
Samuel Degelo was born in the coffee-growing community of Odo Shakiso, Guji. His parents were coffee farmers and taught him a passion and respect for coffee shared by many in Ethiopia. From a young age, he helped them tend their small farm.
Today Samuel has his own farm in the kebele of Hadeso. Elevations on the farm range from 1,850-2,050 meters and his harvest period lasts for about 45 days.
After harvest Samuel delivers his coffee to the Bishan Dimo Washing Station, a newer site opened by Testi Trading in 2017. There it follows a typical fully washed processing before it is moved to raised mesh beds where it undergoes a relatively quick drying period of approximately 7 days.
Samuel is considered to be one of Testi's model farmers. To inspire other producers to follow his example, Testi offers Samuel additional compensation to support him in composting, training, and picking.
As Samuel shared with Trabocca, our importing partners for Ethiopia:
"My goal is to help my neighbor farmers to aim for great coffee as well. Together we can show the entire world that the Bishan Dimo farmers can make the best Ethiopian coffees. I strive to get an income from quality coffee because I see that prices are far higher than the commercial coffees. With this better income, I can improve the lives of my family and relatives."
Samuel grows local heirloom varieties plus two catalogued cultivars, JARC 74110 and 74112. Both were identified by the Jimma Aricultural Research Center in the 1970s and developed for commercial use due to their resistance to Coffee Berry Disease, a pathogenic fungus endemic to coffee plants in Africa. Both varieties were selected from mother trees in the Metu-Bishari forest of Ethiopia's Illubabora Zone. Both are compact, high yielding varieties with incredibly small leaves, fruits, and seeds.
Fans of Ethiopian coffee will recognize that this level of specificity and traceability—in which the individual farmer and varieties are known—is quite rare. Most farms here are too small, and processing infrastructure too centralized, to facilitate any kind of effective lot separation. But in recent years growing demand for unique, relationship-traded coffees has culminated in much higher standards for traceability in Ethiopia, and made it possible for us to purchase lovely coffees like Samuel's.