Reviving a Region: The Story of Gesha Village

A Labour of Love

In the far western reaches of Ethiopia, mere kilometers from the South Sudanese border, lie the dense, wildly sprouting jungles of Bench Maji zone. It’s a place of stunning natural beauty, where from a high-extending plateau one can take in the expanse of the ancient, sprawling forest. This breathtaking landscape is home to Gesha Village Coffee Estate, the 471-hectare coffee farm we have built from the ground up over the last six years. This has been our labor of love, and we’re extremely proud to be producing coffees as awe-inspiring as our surroundings. 

 

Passion

Rachel Samuel (one half of our partnership) was born in Ethiopia, but we discovered the country anew when we came here in 2007 to make a documentary about Ethiopia’s amazing coffee. During this process, we developed a passion for the country, its people, and its coffee industry. That path quickly led us to Willem Boot, the San Francisco Bay Area-based coffee educator well-known for his passion for the Gesha variety. As Willem taught us the fundamentals of growing and evaluating coffee with a quality focus, the shadow of Gesha loomed large over our conversations.

 

AdamRachel

Returning to Ethiopia

We soon returned to Ethiopia to find suitable land to launch our coffee venture growing Gesha. For months we searched for the perfect spot—one with high elevation, ample rainfall, temperate climates, and other crucial natural factors needed to produce coffee of excellent quality. We found it in Bench Maji. While the untouched landscape provided us with the unique opportunity to build the coffee farm of our dreams from the ground up, it offered us something else one-of-a-kind: Close proximity to the Gori Gesha forest, the variety’s birthplace and site of the Panamanian Gesha discovery in the 1930s.

 

Harvesting

We quickly got to work, harvesting a seed selection of wild Gesha plants from the Gori Gesha forest. With that prized stock in hand, we then spent month after tireless month turning our remote piece of land into a working coffee farm capable of producing some of the world’s best Gesha coffee. In the process, we’re helping to create a coffee industry in Gesha’s birthplace. Western Ethiopia has historically been largely disconnected from the global specialty-coffee market, but now world-class Gesha coffee is available just a stone's throw from where the variety originated.

 

A Humble Story

Developing Gesha Village has been a humble story of revival, community, and innovation. We know this is truly just the beginning, though, and we’re excited to continue sharing this journey with the specialty-coffee community.

- Adam Overton, Rachel Samuel and Willem Boot, Gesha Village