Asnakech Thomas is a woman with more energy than the morning marathon trainees at Meskel Square in Addis Abeba. While on the phone long-distance with the U.S. from Addis a few days ago, I saw the pocket of my hung jacket vibrating without respite. 45 minutes later, I checked to see who had been calling. 26 missed calls. I phoned Asnakech.
"Hello Asnakech! You've broken a new world record! 26 missed calls! I've never seen such energy!"
Asnakech knows what it takes to get things done in Ethiopia. Anxious to get back to her beautiful drying tables at the base of the Amaro Mountains, Asnakech had precious little time for city shenanigans.
"Joseph! Have you tried the coffee yet?!"
"Asnakech - the coffee is beautiful!"
Everything is exciting with Asnakech. I took a trip with her last season across the vast the Guji tribal plains that lead to the green Amaro mountain-scapes replete with bamboo forests and hidden waterfalls. The nomadic Guji wield guns to herd their cattle, and smoke rises from around the temporary dwellings that the Guji construct of straw and mud. They burn the grasses to encourage the growth of fresh shoots of grass for their cattle to graze. This hazy burn zone leads right up to the edge of Amaro and it's coffee growers. "You are here at my place!" Asnakech had exclaimed.
A new and ambitious industry player who loves the countryside, Asnakech inspects her drying tables and leads with a fervor never before seen in southern Ethiopia. She pays great prices for the reddest of cherry from surrounding smallholders and employs the smartest of techniques in selecting and drying her cherry. With rare local coffee varieties, her place is a hot bed for some of the most special coffee Ethiopia has seen.
"Spicy Anjou pear flavor and creamy chocolate mouthfeel. Viogner-esque, sweet banana, and cacao fruit in aftertaste. I scored it 94.5. I love it!"
"Wooooooowwwwww! I'm so happy!" she exclaims through the phone.
Hopefully that's just one of the many flavors to be discovered in the micro selections that continue to arrive through the season from Asnakech Thomas and Amaro Gayo. What inspiring work she is doing!