Washing, fermenting, and drying just-picked coffee cherries into raw coffee beans at Kerchanshe Coffee Trading company near Yirga Cheffe, Ethiopia. Coffee originated in these forested hills at 6,000 ft. in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia, still producing many of the world's most prized varieties of Arabica coffee. Kerchanshe claims to be the biggest coffee producer and exporter in Ethiopia. This facility alone processes 3.5M kg of raw cherries annually. All of the beans are organically grown and picked by local villagers who are paid 27 Birr per kg of ripe coffee "cherries," which will lose 80% of their weight after being shelled, fermented, and dried. Local women are paid 50 birr/day for drying and sorting work, male cherry washers get 70 birr/day, and male bean carriers make 60 birr/day.
On this rainy afternoon, the drying beans have been covered in yellow tarps by the factory's hundreds of workers.
Some 90% of Ethiopia's 110 million people are small-scale agriculturalists, with scarcely any cash crop for income or access to electricity and plumbing. Over half of the coffee production is for domestic consumption, and the best quality beans are exported, as coffee is the country's biggest export.
- George Steinmetz
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