God planted coffee in Ethiopia, man planted it everywhere else.




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Slogans are crucial to product marketing.


When very young and impressionable, I learned that Folger's coffee was "mountain grown in the flavor zone" of Colombia, by a friendly looking peasant farmer named Juan Valdez. It stuck, obviously -

In every consuming nation, coffee is subjected to more sheer advertising baloney than any other commercial product. Buna coffee, uniquely, rose above all that: If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, or baffle 'em with bullshit, respect 'em with the truth. 


Real coffee
#2. Only get into business with partners. 
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          All the world adores a one-man band, briefly.
Partnership, a core tenet of development thinking, makes stakeholders of everyone involved in the chain of a "development project" - a kind of trickle-down theory of good intentions emanating from the international agencies, marching to music scored by the world banks;

featuring a chorus of Donors;

and the harmonious efforts of various nations and their non-governmental organizations, NGOs;

functioning in call-it "mirror-concert" with their respective counterparts, employed throughout the developing nation's governmental ministries, that guide national institutions in policy and practice, and cooperate with local NGOs with roots in communities;

to mobilize, enrich, and empower the beneficiaries, for whom the whole shebang toils, with the long-term objective of strengthening the social grassroots of the national landscape, eradicating poverty by stimulating private-sector economic development.

And so on... The jargon rolled off the keyboard so much SMARTer in the previous millenium!



Buna's objectives were similar, but started at the other end of the development chain.


You can bet that beneficiaries of all this international largesse are grateful for any and every opportunity to get ahead, to improve the neighborhood, to make a better life for their children.

The sun'll come out, tomorrow, they hear, as they've heard before, and by reflex they leave the future to the will of God: Xavier y'stilling, inshallah - the subtext interpreted by the great American philosopher Rod Tidwell as "show me the money!"
It's commonly believed that most, if not all, proftable industries and mega-enterprises in Ethiopia have some sort of relationship with the ruling political party. Hiring Addis Ababa's major roasters would have been relatively easy, if for no other reason than they almost exclusively possessed export licenses.

From the start, if little else was clear, Buna's objective was pretty much contrary to that. 
While Buna's green coffee was purchased at certified export warehouses, and transported (by a licensed export company) cross-town to privately- owned roasting enterprises, the regulation required every product handler to have an export permit. Addis Ababa has many private coffee roasting companies, but few had ever considered export.

Which is to say, Buna paid cash up front, out of its own pocket, for everything.
Fortunately, one of them was
MOKARAR owner-operator Tigist surrounded by her family
Consider:

The flavor of virtually every cup of coffee you have ever tasted, any preparation, going back your entire life, was determined by a white male.
Coffee geeks will notice what it is that makes Mokarar espresso roast spectacular. However, while a subtle "smoky" aroma is part of the flavor equation, the oily qualities of the (eucalyptus) smoke seal in the sun-dried Harrar bean's moisture during the 45-minute roast - producing natural flavors like you've never imagined! 
#3: Being a true believer is not always a vice;
       cynicism shouldn't be mistaken for virtue.
       Optimism is essential.
Sidamo region, the biological source of coffee arabica - coffee was planted in Colombia in the latter 18th century. 
The red images here show the Yirgacheffe harvest. After sorting, the "cherries" are mashed together and buried, and the beans ferment in their combined juices for about a month before they are washed with water; the product will be an even and predictable roast, and a uniform taste. Virtually all the top-rated Yirga harvest is washed.


The other images show the unwashed, "sun- dried" process, where the cherries are spread out on long tables in the open air; each coffee bean ferments in its own cherry until the meat rots away, and what remains is manually cleaned. Roasting reveals the individuality, in appearance and flavor qualities, of each bean.

Images in this section, except for the two big "green" Sidamo pictures, above, were made by Teshome Selamu of the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority.
The original Buna label v.1, for Yirgacheffe espresso.
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More than 1-in-3 of all employed Ethiopians work in the coffee industry.

The end of a production process that began a couple months earlier, after harvest.

Straight from the fields, a bag from every batch is sample- roasted and cup-tested by experts at the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, who grade beans for export.

At export warehouses, every bean from every bag is visually inspected and separated from impurities, and loaded into fresh burlap.


Hang your sombrero on that, Juan Valdez!
3. Concept
Delegate duties with smart responsible people who share the vision, and have a vested interest, not least economic, in the unambiguous success of the enterprise. Good luck finding them!
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