This fantastic blend from three of the co-operatives we work with in the Yayu Wild Forest, Ethiopia has a soft citrus acidity upfront, a syrupy body, and notes marzipan and dark chocolate that lend depth to this coffee. Rounded off with a longlasting bourbon biscuit aftertaste. Delicious.
The Yayu Forest Reserve in south-west Ethiopia is one of the last and most important remaining places for the preservation of wild Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica). This largely forested landscape is also a hotspot for biodiversity, with numerous rare plants and animals. Coffee farming generates up to 70% of the cash income for over 90% of the population at Yayu. However, many farmers in the area are struggling to make sufficient income from coffee, which leads to a conversion away from forest-based farming to non-forest crops, resulting in deforestation and biodiversity loss.
In 2014 we started a collaborative project with Dr Aaron Davis (Head of Coffee Research, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) and partners in Ethiopia, to work with the communities at Yayu. Our aim is to increase the income for Yayu farmers, via improvements in coffee quality and by providing access to market via direct trade. Through maintaining forest-based coffee farming systems we hope to stabilize deforestation and preserve biodiversity. The project also aims to better understand how Yayu farmers can make their coffee farms more resilient in to climate change.
This natural landscape is hotspot for biodiversity and is a significant conservation zone. The challenge has been to prevent the ongoing destruction of forestland in the area. A common practise for communities is to clear a plot of land from the forest by felling trees, and then planting a crop to generate an income. Often the narcotic plant Qat is cultivated which provides a good cash income for the grower. However, Qat is a monoculture so this leads to devastating loss of forest and habitat for all other insects and wildlife that support the coffee and forest ecosystem. To preserve and maintain the primary and secondary wild forest, it was important to offer an alternative livelihood to satisfy the well being of the communities who live here.
The communities of Geri, Achibo and Wutete Cooperatives, in Ilu Babor are connected to the natural resources through a system called Participatory Forest management which relates to the sustainable use of forest resources. They have been shown that with careful intervention, the forest produces an abundance of coffee, honey spices and other non-timber forest products. It was shown that the success of conserving the biodiversity depends on improving the livelihoods of the local community by sustainably managing these natural resources.