When we opened Grace Farms in 2015, we did it with cup of coffee in hand. Not just any cup of coffee, but our signature River Roast. A rare cup of coffee; not just in the quality of its taste, but also in that the blend of its beans from Ethiopia, Colombia, and Indonesia are all sourced from women-led co-ops.
This past week we had the pleasure to meet with Mahder and Mahlet Berhnau, two of the three sisters who founded Dumerso Coffee in Ethiopia. It isn't everyday we get to sit down with our partners working across the world, so we took the opportunity to hear their story and learn from them.
Raised in rural Ethiopia in a family of 9 children, the Berhnau sisters grew up with coffee as part of daily life. Their father moved the family to Yirgacheffe to become a coffee farmer and entrepreneur in the region most heralded for the quality of its beans.
Unlike most women, the Berhnau sisters were encouraged by their family to become educated and start their own business. In 2013, three sisters (Mahder, Mahlet, and Hirut) started Dumerso Coffee with the purchase of their first sorting and washing station in the Dumerso region of Yirgacheffe. With long-standing relationships in their community the sisters forged partnerships with female farmers to guarantee fair prices during harvest season of October through January. The sisters employ dozens of women who work to wash, sort, and pack the green coffee collected.
The Dumerso Coffee sorting and washing station in Yirgacheffe is where the ripe coffees have their cherries removed and the beans are washed and any impaired beans are removed from the lot.
There are two processes for removing the cherries; washing the beans and the natural process. Washed beans are considered higher quality because they are the first to be processed, accelerating the process of removing the husk or cherry from around the bean.
Dumerso coffee then takes these beans to Addis Ababa to be further processed and packaged to be exported to destinations like the United States.
Working with dedicated partners such as Dumerso Coffee is what fuels our desire to share their story and their exceptional coffee.