Bird Friendly® Coffee: Back to Origin

December 15, 2008 by Robert Rice

forest in Ethiopia

Forest coffee in Anfilo region.

Donkey laden with coffee bags

Taking coffee to be processed.

With the aid and perseverance of the staff of CERES (certification of environmental standards) organic certification agency in Germany, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's Bird Friendly® (BF) efforts reached across the Atlantic to incorporate a certified shade and organic coffee from Ethiopia on February 16, 2008. This is a first for BF, and it's only fitting that the first BF-certified coffee outside the neo-tropics hails from coffee's birthplace and center of origin.

The newly certified farm group is known as Anfilo Specialty Coffee Enterprise (SCE), with its headquarters in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The production area is west of the capital in the district of Wollega, located in the sub-districts of Anfilo and Gidami.

The group was established by Samson Guma, who, after 25 years in the United States, journeyed to Ethiopia to settle an inheritance after his father's death. On an impulse, he bought a coffee-processing facility in his father's home-town region, and has since worked to find markets for the 118 small farmers in the area.

Together, these growers manage between 500 and 600 hectares (about 1,250 to 1,480 acres) of "forest coffee"—coffee produced beneath a diverse canopy of native shade trees. As a group, Anfilo SCE produces some 200,000 pounds of green, exportable coffee each harvest.

We welcome Samson and his producer colleagues to the Bird Friendly® coffee program, and wish them the best of luck in marketing their coffee to roasters, who will surely find this Ethiopian coffee an exciting part of their offerings to the U.S. coffee-drinking public.

If you would like to find out how to obtain Ethiopian Bird Friendly® coffee