Ethiopia: Ex-Starbucks Staffer Opens Coffee Roaster Plant

With an estimated investment of 40 million Br, Melange Coffee Roasters, a family-owned coffee roaster company has commenced operations in Addis Abeba.

Owners of the company invested close to 40 million Br

With an estimated investment of 40 million Br, Melange Coffee Roasters, a family-owned coffee roaster company has commenced operations in Addis Abeba.

With an estimated investment of 40 million Br, Melange Coffee Roasters, a family-owned coffee roaster company has commenced operations in the capital.

Located around Megenagna, the company imported the machinery for 20 million Br from Turkey. Toper, a Turkish company with over six decades in the business, has supplied the roaster unit, while Hyper Mack, another Turkish firm, supplied the packing unit.

Melange Coffee has a capacity of roasting, grinding and packing 7,500Kg of coffee a day. The packing unit has a capacity of packing 1,800 bags, each containing 250gm of processed powder coffee, an hour. All processing is done entirely hands-free.

The machine uses a technology that forces hot air through a screen underneath the coffee beans so that heat is transferred throughout. The roasted beans are then cooled and packaged immediately in degassing bags.

The roasting machine also uses afterburner, environmentally friendly technology, that is free of smoke and odour. The company operates with 40 employees and expects to add 40 more upon becoming fully operational.

Co-founded by Solomon Kassa, a Dutch citizen of Ethiopian origin, and Mulu Legesse in 2013, Melange Coffee will pack the coffee in 250gm, half kilogram and one kilogram bags. It plans to distribute the product to national and international coffee distributors and consumers.

Solomon worked at Starbucks, the giant American coffee retailer, for eight years. In total, he has 18 years of experience in the coffee industry.

"We've got a plan to come up with a standard domestic brand, and we also hope to expand into the export market," said Solomon, who is also director of operations.

To retail its products, the company has opened two outlet shops at Megenagna and Bole. The owners also plan to increase the number of outlets to seven in the coming year.

In the long run, the company also plans to lease land from the government and have its own coffee farm, according to Solomon.

Such kinds of projects have to benefit those involved in the value chain equally, according to Hussein Mohammed (PhD), a lecturer at Hawassa University's School of Horticulture & Plant Science.

The coffee farmers are benefiting less than the collectors, the collectors are benefiting less than the exporters, and the exporters are benefiting less than the countries that receive Ethiopia's green beans and sell it to end-users by adding their own value, according to Hussein.

"This is a loss in currency," said Hussein. "Thus, value addition has an immense benefit for the exporters and the country."

Last year Ethiopia earned 763 million dollars from the export of 230,764tn of coffee. The revenue is 70pc of the target. However, the volume is the second highest in Ethiopian history, only beaten by last year's export level. The coffee is produced mainly in Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Limu.

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