ETHIOPIA – Melange Coffee Roasters, a family-owned coffee roaster company has inaugurated a new coffee roasting and packaging plant after investing US$1.37 million (40 million Br).

The facility has a daily capacity of roasting 7,500 kilograms and a packaging capacity of 3,600 kilograms of coffee per hour.

Solomon Kassa, co-owner and operations director of Melange Coffee Roasters told The Reporter that, the company has secured a 1,000 ton contract for one year and is about to export its first batch of roasted coffees with an immediate entry to Chinese and South African markets.

The company invested 22 million Br in the purchase of roasting and packaging machinery from Turkey. Toper supplied the roaster unit, while Hyper Mack, another Turkish firm, supplied the packing unit.

The automated packing unit has a capacity of packing 1,800 bags, each containing 250gm of processed powder coffee, an hour.

Solomon said that the firm will pack the coffee in 250gm, half kilogram and one kilogram bags. It also plans to distribute the product to national and international coffee distributors and consumers.

Solomon, who worked at the American coffee retail giant, Starbucks noted that the company has also opened two outlets in the region, with plans to increase the number of outlets to seven in the coming year.

“We’ve got a plan to come up with a standard domestic brand, and we also hope to expand into the export market,” he said adding that the company also seek to venture into coffee farming.  

In a country where coffee is a major agricultural commodity, Solomon is confident that there is a huge demand for value added coffee from Ethiopia. The roasting firm is said to market roasted and grounded coffees for both the local and international markets.

Despite being the leading coffee exporter in Africa, coffee exporting companies in the country have been struggling with market challenges in the international market especially with regards to trade prices and contract breaches.

In the concluded budget year, Ethiopia earned US$763 million from the export of 230,764 tonnes of coffee.

The volume is the second highest in Ethiopian history, lower than last year’s highest export level and represents 70 percent of the target ed revenues. Coffee is mainly produced in Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Limu.