Lecho Torka Washing Station (WS) is located near Lecho Torka Forest in the
Woreda of Uraga in Guji zone. The woreda has three coffee washing stations,
each one neighboring a different forest in the area. All three washing stations
are supplied by smallholders, who are also called “garden farmers” since they use
their backyards to produce coffee along with other crops. Lecho Torka WS owner,
Abdi Jebril, and manager, Desta Wako, partner with 453 smallholder farmers
from the nearby village and its surrounding. Their gardens size between .5 and
2 hectares with occasional larger farms. The smaller farms produce 2-4 bags of
green coffee annually. Some of the trees harvested by the growers are naturally
occurring trees in their yards and in the forest. These trees make up the landrace varieties (locally adapted heirloom varieties), and they are also the reason why coffee from this region is also known as “Forest Coffee”. Many of the trees, however, consist of the breeds developed and introduced by Jimma Agricultural Research Center (JARC) in the 1970s.
Thanks to a 2017 change in legislation which Catalyst Trade had the privilege of influencing through a case study about export company exposure to risk, private washing stations such as Lecho Torka have more options than simply selling their coffees at the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Instead, they can work with invested importers like Catalyst Trade, working together on harvesting and processing protocols, and critically observing a coffee’s lifespan from farm to export preparation. This approach empowers a better distribution of equity amongst all stakeholders and long-term sustainability on all sides.
Lecho Torka is sweet and complex with fruit and floral notes which has become a standard for this high-elevation coffee region. This year’s harvest has cases of peaches in them! Its flavor also reminds us of Earl Grey tea (reads as a harmonious blend of floral citrus and black tea notes), melon and mandarin sweetness.