Yirgacheffe Coffee Lodge Project Overview

BACKGROUND

Most people around the world have heard of Yirgacheffe coffee; it is one of the premium coffees on the market today. Coffee lovers travel from all over the world to source beans, visit coffee plantations, and drink coffee in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.   For more than 60 years, three generations of our family have lived and worked in Yirgacheffe as missionaries.  We want to leverage those years of building relationships and acquiring knowledge of the area to help benefit the local community.  One way we would like to do that is by converting our old home into the “Yirgacheffe Coffee Lodge”.  We will provide a unique "backstage pass" for coffee connoisseurs and tourists. They will experience the history and tradition of coffee in the area first-hand, while relaxing in luxury bush-styled accommodations.  It will serve as an income stream for the local community and showcase their unique culture.

USAID notes that, “With the growth of the specialty industry, it (Yirgcheffe, Ethiopia) has also become something of a pilgrimage spot for international buyers who seek out top quality coffees.”  Ethiopian Coffee Buying Manual 2013, p.13

THE CONCEPT

Since its discovery, coffee has been and will continue to be one of the most sought after commodities in the world.  Now more than ever, connoisseurs are going to the places where coffee is grown. They want to find sources of “fair trade” coffee, which is high in quality, unique, and of single origin. Yirgacheffe boasts some of the world’s best coffee, but there is a lack of quality accommodation there.  Tourists and businessmen have to travel to Awassa, which is over three hours away, for appropriate accommodation.  These people want to come to Yirgacheffe to learn about the age-old culture of the best coffee in the world, but there is no central point to visit, and no cultural experiences to be had.

Senai wants to fill the void and offer a high-quality coffee lodge experience, converting our old family home into a luxury lodge.  Current construction plans propose well appointed rooms, accommodating 35 guests.  We want guests to step back in time and touch, feel, smell, and see how Yirgacheffe coffee has saturated the local culture, then expanded around the globe.  We want guests to be able to “cup” different styles and roasts of coffee, while drinking some of the best locally grown coffee and barista-made “macchiatos” in the country.   

Unique “bean to cup” tours will be given through the coffee plantations and will conclude in local “huts.” There, guests will be able to see how coffee is made. They will observe the coffee process: picking the cherries on the bush, washing, roasting over an open fire, grinding in ancient wood manual grinders, percolating in clay jugs over the fire, and culminating in some of the best coffee they will ever taste.  Literally ‘bean to cup’, this will be an experience rich in culture and tradition.

Guests will also be able to eat at the Lodge. There will be a simple menu of dishes made in a brick oven: pizza, steak, fresh bread, pasta, and organic salads from vegetables grown on property.

 The experience at the YCL will be one of Ethiopian hospitality - warmth and relaxation. Water fountains, crackling fires, blankets on outdoor seating, roasting coffee and smiling faces is the

vibe we want to offer.  We want guests to have privacy, but we will also create a common area to share stories, dine, relax, and read about coffee culture.  We would like to creatively tell the story of missions and the local church as well, so guests understand the reason for creating this lodge is much more than just coffee.  This could be done via a mural, coffee table book, images on walls, etc.

SUSTAINABILITY

Environmental:

We are integrating an environmental impact initiative with our project.   Not only will most of the organic food served at the restaurant be grown on the property, but also a diligent method of organic waste recycling will be used.   Different coffee tree varietals will also be planted around the compound, helping document and highlight the unique types of Yirgacheffe coffee.  Both energy and water will have solar components, reducing our carbon footprint in the community.

Financial:

Senai will establish a for-profit company in Ethiopia in order to operate the Lodge/Tour company. The profits will help fund Senai and its community development projects across Ethiopia, namely: Local Education, Dairy Cow Retirement Program, Clean Water Initiatives, Micro-Loans, Coffee Farmer Upliftment.

The YCL will provide employment to 50+ people in Yirgacheffe and will be the premiere hospitality operation in the area. Ethiopians are the most hospitable people in the world, so we want to marry that gift with high quality accommodation and an experience that leaves the guests talking about the Yirgacheffe Coffee Lodge for years to come.  YCL can realistically become one of the most sought after destinations in Ethiopia.

Future goals:

·      The Yirgacheffe Coffee Lodge will serve as a center for education and information about Ethiopian coffee.

·      It will serve as a hub for further research on coffee and how to benefit the local farmer

·      This model will be replicated across the country in different coffee growing regions

·      Unique varietals of coffee will be identified and exported to coffee connoisseurs

·      The lodge will be an economic resource to fund upliftment projects in the area: clean water, micro-finance loans, education, and coffee value-chain-activities