The Birthplace of Coffee Produces a Unique, Delicious Cup

Learn more about this Ethiopian coffee's rich history

featuring Arthur Karuletwa | January 30, 2016
HOME Farm to Cup The Birthplace of Coffee Produces a Unique, Delicious Cup

At Starbucks we relentlessly search the world for the best coffees to create truly one of a kind experiences. That’s why we call them Starbucks Reserve® Coffees. But It’s not just the exotic locales or small lot farms that make Reserve Coffees special. It’s the stories behind every bean. In this Origins segment we talk to our Director of Traceability Arthur Karuletwa about how Ethiopian Guji has helped at least on man’s dreams come true.

Arthur’s Recollection


The Birthplace of Coffee

The wild and thriving ecosystem of southern Ethiopia has been called the birthplace of coffee—upwards of 10,000 different varietals have been documented (compared to 5 or so in countries like Colombia), and coffee has been growing in the rich, red volcanic soil for thousands of years.

The Man Behind the Washing Station

Alemayehu Tufiri is an Ethiopian entrepreneur who was raised in a coffee farming family in the Oromia region of southern Ethiopia. No stranger to coffee, Tufiri dreamed from an early age of one day opening and operating his own washing station, a critical component to the supply chain for creating elite coffees in his community. Tufiri worked hard to save the money necessary to start Bilida Bukisa, his modern and innovative coffee washing station, and he now employs that same ethic in the practices he uses to process each hand-picked coffee cherry.

Though his ideas were not easily adapted, Tufiri has become a leader in the region for not only bringing new levels of quality to the local coffee, but by combining innovative sun-drying techniques with traditional growing methods. By mastering the art of washing and drying like we’ve never seen, in combination with Ethiopia’s wild botanical coffee varietals, Tufiri has been able to realize and extract some of the most unique and exceptional flavors, that otherwise might never have been realized.

A Rich History

Coffee growing knowledge has been amassing and evolving here since sometime around 15 B.C. With so many generations of experience, growers here know exactly when to pick the cherries, the precise process of washing, and the way coffee should taste, smell and feel throughout the process. In stark contrast to many coffee economies around the world, much of the coffee in Ethiopia is harvested from wild trees using ancient traditions. In this region, estate-grown coffee is the exception.

TASTING NOTESLavender, lemon & black currant
Today under Tufiri’s watchful eye, perfectly ripe coffee cherries arrive from 750 smallholder farmers in the hills surrounding his Bilida Bukisa station. Harvested at elevations sometimes exceeding 6,400 feet, the coffee is fully washed and dried on raised beds beneath the sun where deep, amazing flavors develop. The collaboration between Tufiri and the farmers translates to a sustained model of success - and beautifully delicious coffee like this one.

Enjoy it freshly brewed by the cup in select stores, or by home delivery through our online store.

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An even more rare selection of Starbucks Reserve® coffees is available exclusively to subscribers. Expertly roasted in our Seattle Roastery and shipped within 48 hours.


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