Sidama Union

Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union

Fast facts

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Founded in 2001
Comprised of 76,000 members
Sidama Region
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Organic; FLO 1700 -1950 meters above sea level
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Arabica – Heirloom Citric acidity, full body, and lasting flavors of  lemon zest, bergamot and bitter cocoa

Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU) was founded in 2001 to represent coffee producing cooperatives located throughout the Sidama Zone of southern Ethiopia both locally and in international markets. Today, SCFCU has grown to represent 51 cooperatives and more than 76,000 small-scale farmer families — making SCFCU the second largest Coffee Farmer Cooperative Union in Ethiopia.

Coffees produced by SCFCU member cooperatives are shade grown in low densities under the canopies of indigenous trees and enset (false banana), a staple food crop for Sidama families. The Sidama region stretches across the rugged mountains of Bensa to the valleys of Dale and Aleta Wendo – which provide a range of quality profiles that exemplify this wealth of production landscapes.

Sidama washed coffees show pronounced acidity, fruit flavors varying from red fruits to blueberry and sweet organic to tangy lemon aromas and flavors, medium body and a bitter cocoa finish. In Sidama regions of higher altitudes – often called “Yirgacheffe type” coffees – the coffee shows the characteristic and delicate flavors of bergamot and lemon zest.

Sidamo natural process (unwashed) provides a quality profile with candied strawberry or blueberry fruit flavors, low acidity and rich, full body.

Coop Coffees began sourcing directly from SCFCU in 2009. Since then, we have had the opportunity to develop direct relationships with several of the SCFCU community based cooperatives over the years, including Shilcho, Homacho Waeno, Talamo, Bona, Abela Galuko and Fero Cooperatives.

During our most recent visit to Sidama region we met Khami Tsacaleja, 56-year-old and founding member of the SCFCU Fero Cooperative.

Khami inherited his farm from his father and has been working it these last 36 years. His father started the plot by planting the trees – but Khami has continued with all the field maintenance. He has prepared compost, planted soil retention barriers with vetiver grass and other useful crops; he has managed the pruning, stumping, and hoeing and other tasks necessary to guarantee good yields and superior quality.

“The cooperative serves us well,” he said. “We can either sell our coffee to collect the money right away, or we can sell the coffee and keep our money stored in the cooperative. This works like a kind of savings account for us.”

“Once the harvest has finished and the cooperative sees how well it has done, we also get a second payment,” he explained. “This money comes at a time when we need additional income to get through the coming lean months (between harvests).”

Members of SCFCU have been growing and processing fine Sidamo type coffee for more than 30 years. Overall, Sidama Union produces some 10,000 tons of high quality Organic Arabica beans per year, of which nearly 95% is washed. SCFCU has been certified by Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) since 2003, supporting their role as the bridge to develop producer-buyer relations and direct export OF members’ extraordinary, high quality coffee to international, gourmet markets.