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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The most aromatic coffee, which emerges from the wild forests of Ethiopia, is making its way to Japan and this time around, bullet train passengers are sipping some 10 thousand cups per day, which is said to be the highest turn out so far. 
Ueshima Coffee Co. (UCC), one the biggest Japanese coffee and tea manufacturers, together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have organized a promotional event in Japan where bullet train commuters would have the chance to taste Ethiopian forest coffee originating from the southwestern part of the country: namely Belete-Gera forestry in the Oromia Regional State. 
According to Fumiaki Saso, head of JICA’s agricultural division, the event is getting momentum in Japan where commuters increasingly are expressing their interest to taste the coffee’s flavor which is grown in a wild forest naturally. 
Next to quality and affordability, many consumers in Japan give priority for environmentally friendliness. Following suit, UCC and the likes prefer to ship commodities that meet such requirements labeling the cups with the origins of the coffee.
In his recent visit to Belete-Gera area, Naomi Nakahira, coffee advisor and cupper at the UCC, said that Ethiopia’s forest coffee has the potential to become one of the major global brands.
So far, the country sells Yigachefe, Harar and Sidama coffees as branded commodities internationally. Nakahira is certain that if branding procedures are dealt with, Belete-Gera forest coffee could become one of the leading brands in the specialty category. 
A US-based NGO called Rainforest Alliance is behind the forest coffee certification activities internationally. It has been certifying Belete-Gera forest coffee annually since 2007. That has prompted Japanese firms and government agencies to take part both in the conservation and coffee buying businesses. Currently, UCC buys some two containers or 36 tons annually from farmers’ cooperatives in Belete-Gera forest coffee. 
Saso of JICA said that branding the Belete-Gera forest coffee as the best specialty requires the attention of the government. 
In a conserved 3,290 hectare of forest, farmers cooperatives such as Shabe-Sabaka are chosen for their best quality coffee harvest and are mentioned in the coffee cups sold in the fast edging train that connect the two Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka.
Selling Ethiopia’s finest coffee in the bullet train has some historical backgrounds, Saso notes. After the horrific devastation of the Second World War, the gradually emerging Japan was able to host Olympic Games. During the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the legendary athlete Abebe Bikila, still highly regarded by Japanese people, won the men’s marathon competition. Japan is bidding to host the 2024 Olympics. Aimed also at commemorating the legendary athlete, both UCC and Japan Railway Company are promoting Ethiopia’s Arabica organic coffee among commuters.
Moreover, Belete-Gera coffee is set to be contestant in one of the coffee brewing championships in Japan. Annually, Specialty Coffee Association of Japan (SCAJ) organizes numerous coffee related competitions. In one of the categories called “Siphonist Championship” a Japanese contester was acclaimed for wining high prizes by brewing Ethiopian origin specialty coffee from Belete-Gera area. In September, a barista competition is scheduled to take place which, according to Nakahira, is planned to include Ethiopian coffee.
Source: Reporter