Washed Organic Hambela Dimtu Guji
Kassa - Washed Organic Hambela Dimtu - Guji
jasmine soda / lemon candy / watermelon candy / ginger
tea / plum / Honeyed / deep black tea / sweetly tart acidity, like granny smith
Special Prep Washed screen size isolation 13/14, 15, 16+
Aklilu Kassa & Biniam Aklilu Kassa
General Manager: Biniyam Kassa
Assistant Manager: Elias Mijo
Mechanic: Balcha Loga & Bisrat G/Medhin
8 full time employees and 180 seasonal
Local people group name:
Certifications: NOP and JAS Organic Certified, C.A.F.E.
Soil type: red brown soil
Local name for coffee varieties:
Guji, Typica ,Heirloom
"There was no road when I built my first washing station,"
says Aklilu Biniam, while sipping a traditionally-prepared
Ethiopian macchiato at our flower-flanked table in an Addis
Ababa hotel. To his right sits Biniam, his eldest son, a mid-
twenties youngster who works harder than most men dream of and
who lights up with joy when he gets the chance to talk about the
projects in Guji, where his family originates, and about his
shared plans with his father for their export company and
washing stations. Somewhere off to the left his glorious
youngest, Beka, plays tag with our daughter Eire. Both
occasionally run up to their parents for sips of soda or a
handful of kolo, roasted barley & nuts.
Aklilu is a fourth-generation coffee professional in
Ethiopia for whom coffee isn't just an afterthought. His
grandfather received a grant of 500 hectares in Guji decades
ago, during the reign of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie.
Eight wives and countless children resulted in that land being
split, and split again down family lines. Aklilu's father made
history in Guji by founding the very first privately-owned
washing station in the area, after years working as a cherry
collections agent. This first washing station was established in
1995 (1987 by the Ethiopian calendar) and went by the name of
Kassa Chirressa. Aklilu, then 28, went to work for his father,
who still operates the mill.
At that time, Guji, along with Yirgacheffe, Kochere, and
dozens of other now-distinct district, was known as Sidama
coffee," remembers Aklilu. "All my brothers and sisters worked
at the washing station with me." Every year new challenges
appeared with metronomic regularity: without roads, the workers
had to resort to transporting coffee on the backs of mules. Over
4-5 years, the siblings and the staff at Kassa Chirressa and
Aklilu's first washing station, Hegar Mariam, physically brought
rocks from various parts of Guji to build their own road, and
eventually were able to bring trucks in to the remote washing
stations to transport the cherries to ECX warehouses without
risking the coffee's integrity. As an intriguing aside, Hegar
Mariam is 300 rough-and-tumble kilometers from Kenya's northern
A strong and handsome gentleman, Aklilu carries an air of
confidence with him everywhere he goes. It's a confidence earned
by taking risks and by dint of hard work and endless sacrifice,
coupled with creativity. Biniam, who studied business in the
United States and has put in long hours away from social media
and the lure of city life in Guji overseeing several washing
station experiments, has the same glow.
The Guji Zone of Southern Ethiopia pushes up against the
lush zones of Sidama and West Arsi to the north, to the Bale
Zone in the east, and to the famous Gedeo Zone to the West.
Given their closeness, Guji and Gedeo Zones share many crossover
characteristics in coffee processing and production, resulting
in similar bright, sparkly coffees with heavy floral notes and
an overall delicacy. Oromiffa is spoken in West Guji, with a
fair sprinkling of Gedeo. Both are Semitic languages like most
of the 82 tribal tongues spoken around Ethiopia.
As in the Gedeo Zone, coffees in Guji are grown under shade
trees that include enset (false banana), wanza (an indigenous
African tree that grows near water sources and is used for fuel,
tools, and furniture, with its leaves being used to fertilize
crops), bamboo, and avocado.
Rather than being grown on single-producer estates, coffee
in the Guji Zone is purchased from nearby farmers who pick from
their back yards, where coffee flourishes wild as a cash crop
among others such as mangos and bananas. As such, farm size is
small: generally .5 hectare up to 2 hectares, which results in a
typical multi-generational family producing from one to three
(60 kilo) bags of coffee.
Unlike in many other coffee origin countries, producers do
not hire a mix of transient and year-round workers to pick
cherries. Instead, coffee farmers pick their own crops, aided by
family members. Washing stations often pay a premium to the
producer for selling ripe cherries only.
Aklilu owns a number of coffee washing stations, including
Dimtu, where this beautiful coffee lot was processed. Dimtu has
been open for one year, and sits on two hectares of land. An
Agard four-disk pulper is maintained every day in the morning
before it begins operation.
The rainy season in this part of Guji lasts approximately
from March to November, and then the harvest begins and the
washing station swings into movement and song while 180 seasonal
workers join the 8 full time employees to process coffees.