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40 Hands

Asnakech and the Green Gold

Published on 16 March 17

My name is Asnakech Thomas Biene, I'm a coffee grower. I love my work, which I am honored to do in Ethiopia, where it all began.



It was here, in this country, that coffee was first discovered, becoming a source of sustenance for its inhabitants, long before it spread throughout Africa and the rest of the world. Still now, as it was back then, coffee is a way to achieve a better social position, to radically change our condition. This is why I work with a number of associations and companies, including Lavazza, to support farmers, educate them and pass on the depth of my passion.

I know it may sound strange, but I talk to my plants, I can understand them. Every day, there’s a new challenge to face. I can hear them in the morning, calling me, “My dearest, I need some food,” or “Please, someone, look after me.” Each plantation must be duly pruned, the dried branches must be cut, while the soil below must be kept neat and clean, free of grass. I only use natural fertilizers, such as compost, which keep the plant healthy, the leaves glossy and the fruits large and round.




Coffee is so deeply rooted in our traditions that it is seen as auspicious.

If a person looking for a wife enters a house where coffee is about to be served, it means that he is in the right place, and that the marriage will go well. The same goes for reconciliations: if there’s been a long-standing quarrel between people, families send their diplomats to resolve the matter. If, on entering the house, the Abol Bunna, “coffee at its first boiling,” is ready, peace is made, putting an end to any discussion.


Asnakech e l'oro verde
Asnakech e l'oro verde


For me coffee is synonymous with happiness; just look at the faces of my people, they are smiling, even if they’re tired. It is a healthy beverage, it recharges energy and brings people closer, puts them round the same table, it unites them. Here, we call it green gold or the backbone of our country, this is why Africa should make sure that every one of its inhabitants has access to this unique beverage.



My goal is to help make African coffee number one in the world; for this reason, I will continue to produce it for as long as I live. I love coffee and I will cultivate it until my last breath, knowing that I have contributed by giving my country and other continents a quality product. After all, all forms of excellence make the world a better place.




*Asnakech Thomas Biene is one of the protagonists of the 2015 Lavazza calendar – Earth Defenders.

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