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Our Love Letter to Ethiopia Hamasho and Its Trader: Catalyst

Ethiopia Hamasho Coffee Cherry Co-fermentation holds a special place in our heart as this is the first coffee we purchased directly from an oversea green beans trader (Catalyst Trade.) 

In this blog we’d like to share a bit about Catalyst Trade and why we fell in love with the coffee and the philosophy of this wonderful company.


How Catalyst Trade Started

The story of Catalyst Trade started like a serene dawn of Ethiopia, in the quiet corner of Portland, Oregon. 

The business established in 2018 built on a close partnership of Zelalem, Emily, and Michael- and their philosophy is that “coffee should be traded with respect and kindness.”

They focus on trading coffee they grow in Ethiopia. Their relationship with Ethiopian coffee dates back to 2013, when they were visiting farms to provide consultations.

Since then they settled down in Ethiopia, and they have been pursuing the ultimate traceability from cherries to cup; they are heavily involved with the production and processing, as well as categorizing and naming countless of nameless varieties.

They are directly involved and managing the production from cherry picking, pulping, fermenting, packing and tagging, to transporting and exporting the produce- staying true to their name, they have been provoking new conversations and values, showing the industry how to make a difference for the better.


(Catalyst trade Website)

Their 3 Processes and How They Achieved Both Traceability and Flexibility 

As the fruit of their tireless effort and experiences, Catalyst Trade established to offer 3 process types.

  • INTRINSIC (Traditional processes)
  • INTERVAL (Processes with calculated& adjusted fermentation times)
  • SYMBIOTIC (Experimental processes using yeast, etc.)

This was revolutionary because they offer coffees with processes they fully understand and approve, which enables them to be completely transparent, while maintaining the wide variety of choices they can offer covering both traditional and avant-garde. 


(A snapshot of the cupping session we had at Kurasu Ebisugawa) 

The Mind-blowing Cupping experience that Updated Our Mindset

Our CEO visited Athens in 2023 for WBC (World Barista Championship)- and that’s how we connected with the team at Catalyst Trade.
On May 27th in the same year, Chris, an importer, visited Kurasu Ebisugawa bearing bag full of beans.


The cupping session was so memorable for both Takuya (our head roaster ) and I (Jongmin). 

 The coffee flavors are getting progressively varied as the industry grows, and everyone has their own taste.

As a roaster at cupping sessions, it’s important to put my personal preference aside, and be rid of any biases.  However, there are times that I feel unconsciously negative about a certain type of coffee I know I don’t love.  

Whereas at this cupping session and through the time we spent with the team at Catalyst Trade, their well curated coffee experience and its intended flavor reached straight into our hearts. The experience was so raw and pure, I felt I was reminded of why I do what I do. Their coffee was that persuasively good. 


(Another snapshot of the cupping session at Kurasu Ebisugawa) 

To celebrate this wonderful encounter, we purchased this Ethiopia Hamasho Coffee Cherry Co-fermentation, hoping to express our appreciation of the producer’s and exporters’ achievements. 

This was a big decision for us to make, as we have never directly imported green means by air without having a Japanese importer as a middleman.


(A crate of green beans arriving at our roastery)


Catalyst Trade’s Next Chapter

Sadly, due to many obstacles such as pandemic, international conflicts, financial crisis in the US, ever rising interest rate and boosted coffee prices, they are closing their business.

However, as they wished in their message, the culture of love and respect survived their business and still continues to guide us and light our way forward. 

This first and the last encounter with them taught me something precious- a role model to look up to as I decide what kind of coffee person I’d like to become. 


(By Jongmin, roaster at Kurasu )