What makes a coffee ‘specialty’? We believe it goes beyond cup score and is ultimately about the people involved. From the agronomists who strategize and train workers on soil nutrition and plant care, to the workers who carry out these plans, through to the dry mill staff that ensure the parchment is hulled and packaged to the importer’s specifications; coffee passes through many hands before it is even roasted and finally prepared by a barista. While the final cup quality is of course impacted by the final two stages–roasting and preparation–the barista has no chance of extracting a tasty cup without the many previous steps having gone “right”.
So it makes sense that we spend a lot of time and effort getting to know our partners at origin very well before we purchase any coffee from them. What are we looking for in the “right” origin partner? We’ve found that the best partners are a mixture of ambitious, reliable, curious, passionate and continually striving for excellence. Heleanna Georgalis of Moplaco Trading in Ethiopia is a person who exhibits all of these traits and far more. We have been working with her since 2013 and are looking forward to many more years of close collaboration.
Below is an excerpt from our report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017 where you can read more about Heleanna and the incredible work she does.
The Right People at Origin
A romanticized idea of coffee trading is that one is sourcing from a farmer who is equipped and empowered to offer coffee from their field, and bringing it to your market, and all other parties in-between are helping to make it happen. It isn’t always quite like that.
CCS’ relationship with Ethiopia as a coffee origin is like any other passionate relationship: it can be fantastic and fantastically challenging at the same time. The country offers coffees that are as unique as the many ways of handling them. Our source for guidance and relief has often times been Heleanna Georgalis of Moplaco.
She has, since CCS’ inception, presented strategies and solutions for dealing with Ethiopia as a multi-faceted origin. She is a coffee farmer. She processes her own coffee. She buys cherries and processes coffee from other growers. She buys lots from ECX and cleans them. She has a great dry mill, which makes all the difference. She is an exporter. She is a reliable partner. She reminds us again and again that coffee is not only people, but also politics and culture.
Heleanna is constantly teaching us the complexities of the trade, which has emboldened us to broaden our scope. We are now working with many more and very different partners in Ethiopia; farmers and millers, agronomists and researchers. The next step for CCS is to open our own lab in Addis, thus staying closer while also working more independently.
We are continuing our business relationship with Moplaco, getting the best services possible on milling and quality control, while nourishing personal connection with Heleanna’s team. That’s coffee romance to us.
Read the full report Collaborative Coffee Source, Living Our Values 2017.