What’s in a cup of coffee? Origin, washed or natural, type of roast, Organic, Fairtrade… These are all things that you might be thinking about when sipping your favourite beverage.
But what about the implications of that cup on grower communities? How is a graduation ceremony in Ethiopia’s Bensa district connected to a cup of V60 filter coffee being brewed in a Berlin kitchen?
Let’s take a trip down the coffee supply chain to find out.
Who made my coffee?
Today, the world drinks over 3 billion cups of coffee a day. Smallholder farmers produce 60% of that, with millions and their families depending on it for survival and growth. It is a source of livelihood for many and a source of comfort and delight for even more.
With sustainability and responsible consumerism high on the global agenda, people are starting to get curious about where their products come from. Today they enjoy better transparency in their products - ingredients and origin, for example. Now they ask for supply chain transparency and a chance to learn about the people behind the products they consume.
Daye Bensa Coffee is built on the labor and expertise of a beautiful community of coffee growers. We’d like to tell you more about them.
Daye Bensa Coffee: A story of heritage
The story starts with the founder of Daye Bensa Coffee, Asefa Dukamo. Asefa grew up in a family of coffee growers in the small city of Daye, in Sidama’s Bensa district. He observed the beauty and skill of the trade, and grew to love his region’s coffee and respect its farmers.
He witnessed both the rewards and the challenges of farming coffee. He took note of the frustrating limitations growers can be faced with daily and in the long-term, and set his heart on creating a business that could alleviate those.
Daye Bensa Coffee was a way of breaking down obstacles and lifting up the community he was raised in, offering more stable livelihoods, better income, and a chance at achieving growth rather than settling for survival.
Meet the Daye Bensa Heroes
Most residents of Daye Bensa are smallholder coffee farmers. Coffee is all they know, and they know it well. It is at the heart of their culture, homes and livelihoods.
It is usually a family business built on generations of hard work and experience. Ethiopian coffee farmers drink their own coffee - one of the reasons why the quality of their product is so high.
Typically, they plant coffee seedlings and nurture their farms until their crops are ready for harvest 4-7 years later. Most farmers then transport their harvested crops to market or nearby collection sites by motorbike or horseback, an arduous task.
To get a better sense of our farmer community, meet Fantaye Fereja, a local farmer. He owns a 2-hectare farm and has been producing coffee for the past 20 years. He harvests on average 2,000 kilos of red cherries a year. He, his wife Frehiwot and their 5 children live primarily from the income generated by this activity.
Fantaye spends all of his income on sustaining his family and on their children’s education, for whom he has high hopes. This year’s harvest was good and he is planning to build a house - a big milestone.
Investing in farmers is investing in growth
The Daye Bensa area accounts for over 20 million kilos of coffee production and associated cash flow. That being said and done, farmers still struggle to make a profit because of a lack of an enabling infrastructure. Electricity, telecommunication and water supply is unstable and costly - a major bottleneck for their activities. If these issues were addressed, coffee could be the area’s catalyst for a better quality of life and a growing economy.
With good, steady coffee sales, life starts to change for the better. Businesses start to bloom. Weddings, graduations and other life events can be fully celebrated. Farmers can buy new clothes for their family and new tools for their business. When incomes grow, consumption rises and the overall market and economy develop.
Before long, most of the city and adjacent towns start to gradually benefit from this release of cash flow. Roads connecting small towns can get built to enable a ‘coffee route’ to the capital. Profit can be invested back into the business by improving infrastructure, equipment and inputs. Capacity building and trainings can also be engaged for better yields and quality.
Ultimately, the benefit goes full circle - improving in turn incomes, quality of life and overall economic growth of the area.
What are we doing to support our growers?
At Daye Bensa Coffee, we believe in giving back to our farmer community and do our best to help them flourish.
Farmers like Fantaye rely heavily on coffee’s seasonal income and often struggle to make ends meet in between seasons. To bridge this income gap, Daye Bensa has a program called OutGrowers Day. It consists in sharing its revenue with registered farmers - based on how much coffee they have provided that season - as a second payment.
Next time you sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee, think about the labour of love behind it. Picture the beans traveling by horseback, the beautiful rolling hills and coffee trees, the confetti being thrown at a wedding and families coming together and growing for generations to come.