Our most unique coffee is crown in the Bench Maji forest by Aman Cooperative farmers. The cooperative is situated in western Ethiopia in the Bench Maji zone, near the town of Mizan. It is one of the 40 coffee cooperatives of the Bench Maji Forest Coffee Farmers Union, who next to coffee produce also spices and honey. Aman Cooperative has 427 farmers. Uniquely, the Bench Maji Aman coffee is grown in a forest. The farms are located in a natural reserve, hence the forest gets only little management, except some removal of undergrowth to facilitate access to the coffee trees. Sometimes old coffee trees are removed and replaced with new seedlings from the same forest. It’s tedious job to harvest coffee from a forest. Imagine, to harvest 200 kg forest coffee, farmers need to cover at least 1 hectare forest.
The coffee cherries are hand picked by farmer and his family members. Thanks to the unique growth method in forest, usually only farmer knows where all coffee trees are grown. This makes Bench Maji coffee very personal. Once the coffee has been harvested, it is brought to the cooperative wet mill. There the coffee is processed in four steps. First, harvested coffee cherries go to a pulping machine, which separates the bean from the fruit. The pulp is washed away and beans are fed to the fermentation tanks.
Then, the beans stay in the fermentation tanks for 16 to 30 hours. Here the mucilage layer is broken down and the coffee’s flavour is naturally enhanced. After fermentation the beans are washed to remove the sticky fluid that has come from the fermentation process. Finally the washed coffee is taken on the hills of mountain, where it is spread on drying trays to dry naturally in the sun. Dried coffee packaged into 60kg bags and stored in coop warehouse until it is delivered to Addis Adaba, capital of Ethiopia, for exporting around the world. Some of it may be in your coffee mug. Bench Maji is located in Western Ethiopia surrounded by large patches of wild rainforest, historically inhabited by the Mursi, Suri, Nyangatom, Dizi and Me’en ethnic groups. Today Bench Maji forests and people living there are under great pressure to be cleared to grow coffee in large scale, which makes forest coffee threatened. Thanks to Ethiopian government and the local people the region has managed to avoid ecological disaster. Cooperations and unions have helped to add economic value to the natural coffee forest. Hence by drinking our Bench Maji Aman forest coffee you are supporting small scale farming – 100% natural and organic. The coffee trees are grown in sandy soil, up to 1500-2500 metres high. Thanks to warm temperature and moderate rainfall it is a perfect place to grow coffee.