Ethiopian coffee creates a buzz
Feven Binega-Northcott’s family joked that she’d get lost in the Bermuda Triangle when she moved to the island from her Ethiopian birthplace, after marrying Bermudian Jonathan Northcott.
Her family’s words had a ring of prophecy, because she hasn’t been back in 15 years.
“I did some vision boarding last year and one of my goals was to stay connected to back home,” the Somersfield Academy teacher said.
Looking around the internet, she came across Moyee Coffee Ethiopia, a coffee bean enterprise in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
“They have a small farm in the lowlands,” she said. “They do incentives for the farmers so they can grow organically and make money out of growing the beans. They hire local designers to do their labels. Everything is done in the country which helps the economy. They call it ‘fairchain’, because you can trace the coffee back to the farmer.
“They pay up to 20 per cent more on the market value to encourage farmers to stay in that industry and make a living and invest in more land. It was something I thought, okay I can get behind that. I drink enough coffee that I could wrangle up a few friends.”
In December, she started Highland to Island coffee, bringing in small quantities of Ethiopian coffee from Moyee.
At first she thought it would be a complicated process to bring in the coffee, but it wasn’t.
“When I contacted Moyee they were really approachable and were excited about sending coffee to Bermuda,” she said. “They roast the coffee when you order it, so it is not roasted and sitting around in a back room. It is fresh.”
They sent her a few samples to try, and she loved them. So did grocery stores Harrington Hundreds in Smith’s and Lindos in Devonshire, who agreed to stock the coffee. Simple Bermuda, a meal preparation company, also agreed to sell the coffee at their stall at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at the Botanical Gardens in Paget.
When Ms Binega-Northcott started Highland to Island she hoped to receive the first shipment in time for the Christmas season. Things didn’t quite turn out that way.
“The coffee got lost and was here just before the New Year,” she said. “We just finished the first shipment. It is completely gone. We had a minimum order of 220lbs of coffee. We introduced a subscription plan for friends and family, of having a certain amount of coffee every month.”
For the first go around, Highland to Island coffee sold two types of coffee, Limu, a heirloom variety, and Two to Tango, a blend of single origin Ethiopian coffees.
“They are really open to doing different blends for us,” Ms Binega-Northcott said.
And the reaction from the general public was positive.
“I think there is a market for artisan coffee, and food,” Ms Binega-Northcott said. “People are really interested in their coffee and where it comes from.”
Ms Binega-Northcott fell in love with coffee, growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the beverage is an integral part of the culture.
Ethiopians have their own coffee ceremony. First the beans are roasted, then ground in a mortar and pestle, then brewed in a small clay pot, three times. It’s a lengthy process that can last hours.
“There are incense and snacks,” Ms Binega-Northcott said. “It is a way for people at the end of the day to catch up with the family and share news and gossip.”
She described the flavour as smooth and chocolatey.
“Obviously it’s about the quality of the beans, but it is also in how you roast them,” she said. “That makes a huge difference.”
As an adult, she starts every morning with a strong, very strong, cup of coffee.
“For me it is not about quantity but about quality,” she said. “That might translate to some people as two or three cups of coffee because it is really strong.”
Harrington Hundreds and Lindos in Devonshire, which now stock her coffee. It is also being sold through meal prep company Simple, at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market.
The coffees are being offered in 250g bags for around $15 in grocery stores. Highland to Island Coffee also has a subscription service where you can buy 250g bags for $10.50 and 500g bags for around $22.
Ms Binega-Northcott anticipates Highland to Island Coffee will receive its next shipment in the second week of March, or sooner.
• For more information see Highland to Island Coffee on Instagram: @h2i.coffee or on Facebook: Highland to Island Coffee or by calling 333-9926.
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