Meet our new colleagues in Tropiq Ethiopia!
Ethiopia is a diverted and a complicated place to work in. We are constantly travelling there, and we have an origin office with ground staff, and a cupping lab located in Addis Ababa. We know what we are looking for and will be cupping through loads of coffees every year to choose the exceptional ones.
Finding great coffees in Ethiopia requires a good insight in the complexity of the country, regions the trade and politics. We do work strategically towards our suppliers, and have many returning Cooperatives and washing stations that we have supported over many years. The office and cupping lab also attracts a lot of “new” farmers and producers. We are happy to analyze coffees and give feedback to producers that we are currently not working with.
Our staff in Ethiopia are also there to chase and follow up the producer and the deliveries, samples of stock lots, milling, pre-shipment samples, shipment, financing. This is crucial to access the best qualities and to ensure efficient milling, logistics and quality control.
Until now, Seife Tuloskopi has been managing our lab in Addis. He is now leaving Tropiq Ethiopia but will continue to work in coffee in Ethiopia.
Besides existing office and lab staff we have a great new management team in place to continue our work in Ethiopia, with Marco Barra Castro as the new general manager, and Semeon Abay as product and quality manager. The Tropiq team at Nordic Approach HQ in Oslo will of course continue to oversee the operation in Ethiopia, with frequent travels. Morten Wennersgaard (founder of Nordic Approach) has overall responsibility for strategy and product portfolio. Alexander Lenouvel Hansen will be responsible for all our Ethiopian coffee purchases, and will be active in developing quality control systems and developing products and concepts.
Marco Barra Castro – General Manager
Marco was the General Manager at Tembo Coffee Company, Tanzania from 2013 to 2018. Before beginning his career in coffee, Marco worked in the garlic export industry in China and Hong Kong for several years. Marco is a long time resident of Tanzania, having lived here for nearly 15 years. Before joining Tembo Coffee, Marco was the Managing Director and co-founder of the Boona Baana Center for Children’s Rights where he perfected his Kiswahili and learned first hand about the challenges and joys of working in East Africa. Marco is a fluent speaker of Spanish, English, Mandarin Chinese and Kiswahili and he likes to say that he speaks French with a Chinese accent. Marco and his wife have eight children plus a continuous flow of others who stay temporarily with them before being adopted out. Marco fervently hopes to one day learn how to play the guitar and dance salsa like a pro.
Semeon Abay – Product and Quality Manager
Semeon worked as head roaster and production manager for 4.5 years at Novo Coffee in Denver, Colorado since 2005 where his first professional lessons in coffee started. This is where he started to understand what kind of raw material is needed by the end customer. That is when the interest of working in coffee from the source was born. He then moved back to Ethiopia and started working with Ninetyplus coffee as a sourcing manager responsible for improvement of coffee picking and all the processing to get a better quality including experiments. He was in charge of quality control on the ground level, and made the final choice and decision of which cherries were the ones headed to the cup and which processing methods to be used, including controlling the final preparation of the coffee, cupping and grading, packaging and transportation.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Morten Wennersgaard – Product Director and Founder
Morten has more than a decade of experience sourcing and direct buying from producers in Africa, Central/South America and Asia. Before starting up Nordic Approach in 2011 he worked 9 years as the product manager and buyer at Solberg & Hansen Coffee roasters in Oslo, Norway. Besides managing the company is the main buyer and cupper for Nordic Approach and has a very clear idea of what profiles and quality criteria Nordic Approach should stand for.
Alexander Lenouvel Hansen – Sales & Sourcing
Alexander has worked in speciality coffee for eight years. He has lived in both Burundi and Nicaragua and worked as a speciality coffee consultant to producers there. He is now working in Sales & Sourcing for Nordic. He is our main buyer for Ethiopia, and will also be developing quality control systems and product development.
If you want to travel with us to Ethiopia we have a lot of upcoming sourcing trips:
- November – travel to visit washing stations in the south and potentially the west.
- December – travel to visit washing stations in the south.
- January – Origin Approach + cupping.
- February – travel to Addis to cup heels of offers, visit dry mills.
- March – travel to Addis to cup heels of offers, visit dry mills.
Read more about our work in Ethiopia here.