The Konga Cooperative, founded in 1975, is located in Yirgacheffe, the most densely populated part of Ethiopia and the country’s leading producer of coffee. It began with a group of 275 women and 1,000 men and has since grown to nearly 4,000 members. (In comparison to cooperatives in other parts of the world, Ethiopian farmers tend to produce much smaller quantities of coffee each, so a co-op is more likely to have large membership.)
Building direct relationships with producers is important to us. Ethiopia is a harder country to do this in because the government has standardized the process of selling coffee to an extent rarely seen elsewhere. All farmers in Ethiopia must either sell through the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange or unionize.
By purchasing coffee directly from Konga’s union, we are able to trace the coffee and ensure that the farmers will receive direct payment. Once the coffee is processed and sold through the union to a roaster like Irving Farm at base price, the co-op gives 70% of the profits back to the farmers (keeping 30% for administrative costs) and they make a collective decision about what to do with this second payment. In the past Konga has put it toward schools, roads, medical clinics and electricity.
Konga is a main component of our Blackstrap blend, making its bright sweet flavor a signature Irving Farm taste.