Ato Tesfaye Bekele is one of the people that put Guji Specialty Coffee on the map. While the Guji zone was dominated by cattle farmers, he sought new ways to make coffee popular in Guji. “I don’t consider myself to be a coffee farmer, because coffee is everything to me. All my time and energy are placed into the beans that I harvest and process,” Tesfaye Bekele, the founder of Suke Quto Farm, explains. “I come from a coffee-producing family, so during my childhood, I started to work with coffee early on”, Tesfaye continues, “At first, coffee did not have my interest. The labor was hard, and the days were long. But after several years of study and other work I returned to my home in the Shakisso woreda, Guji. I found myself in coffee again”.
Suke Quto Farm is stretched out over the highlands and valleys of the Odo Shakisso woreda. The volcanic soil found on the farm is very fertile. Tesfaye keeps the soil in shape by organic recycling through litterfall and root residue from coffee and shade trees. Suke Quto coffees are all Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified. Tefaye works together with 171 outgrowers that deliver cherries to the Suke Quto Washing and Drying Station. Besides partnering up with outgrowers, he owns another 221 hectares in the highlands of Guji. More than 200 seasonal workers are needed to pick and process the Suke coffees. At the Suke Quto Washing Station, the washed coffees are pulped with an Agared machine, which is a pulper that has no mucilage remover. The coffee seeds are fermented for 36-48 hours (depending on the weather) in fermentation tanks. Natural coffees are dried between 9 and 15 days on raised beds.