US Secretary of State John Kerry and Tadele Abraha, general manager of Green Coffee Plc, had a brief chat on how many cups of coffee each would take a day, during a demonstration held inside the United States Embassy in Addis Abeba, on Entoto Road.
It was a side event, organised by American diplomats based in Addis Abeba, as part of Kerry’s first visit to the Ethiopian capital, where he attended the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU), now the Africa Union (AU). He was originally scheduled to see the processing plant of Green Coffee, in the south eastern outskirts of the capital, although cancelled a day before the Embassy’s event, due to security concerns, sources disclosed to Fortune.
Green Coffee, established in 1998 with a registered capital of 30 million Br, runs a coffee plantation besides the 10,000hcts Tepi plantation, in Gambella and Southern regional states. It acquired the plantation, worth 873 million Br, from the government, in 2011, in a joint venture arrangement.
Green Coffee is one of the main coffee exporters to the US market, which bought 61 million dollars worth of coffee from Ethiopia in 2012 – of the 860 million dollars the country has earned from its global bean exports.
Kerry handed over a certificate of quality, jointly issued by the Coffee Quality Institute and the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange (ECX), in the presence of its Chief Executive Officer, Anteneh Assefa, who sat alongside Dennis Weller, mission director of USAID in Ethiopia.
The ECX has set up a coffee laboratory, which is first in Africa, in order to meet the rigorous quality standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), according to a press statement issued by the US Embassy.
“With the certification, US importers of Ethiopian coffee will be able to purchase with confidence that the coffee they receive will be of a specific quality,” said the press statement.
The test of such quality was afforded to the Secretary of State, during a coffee ceremony held inside the Embassy last week. The coffee was brought from Green Coffee’s 2,000hct estate in the Keffa area of Oromia Regional State, and roasted here in Addis. Green Coffee offered 20Kg of the coffee Kerry sampled as a gift, which he promised to drink at a rate of 10 cups a day, sources disclosed to Fortune.
But, the Secretary General was more interested in how to help Ethiopian coffee exporters to get market linkage to the US, in order to export roasted beans with marketable packaging.
The United States has been supporting the Ethiopian coffee sector over the past eight years, through projects financed by USAID, including the ongoing Agribusiness & Market Development project, according to the Embassy.
“He wants to see American companies come to Ethiopia and lease land to farm and roast coffee; perhaps in partnership with Ethiopian companies,” Tadele told Fortune.