This is how the story begins…. In 2006, our restaurant Café Colucci, which has been serving Ethiopian food for bay area residents since 1991, started experiencing a major problem in securing quality products from Ethiopia. Spices such as Berbere (red hot chili pepper) became scarce and the quality of our other spices we received from our distributors fluctuated. The same happened at our retail store Brundo as we were constantly running out of spices to sell. This was frustrating as our supply became unpredictable and most of all unreliable and our restaurant was unable to serve customers with quality food. After changing suppliers and witnessing that the problem remained, we decided to do the unthinkable and find a solution ourselves.
We started exploring our options in taking control of our supply chain and start a small operation of spice production in Ethiopia. The process was arduous, but at the end, we were able to rent a small facility, hire few Balemoyas , produce our own spices and obtain a license to export our goods. This small endeavor was instrumental not only in helping us produce amazing and potent spices for our restaurant but in using the left over to sell at our online store and use in our cooking classes. We also engaged in preserving old traditions of spice blending and scaling up the production to meet the continuous demand. In 2009, the business took a big turn. Brundo International was able to secure a permanent location to lease a land and build a spice factory and processing plant in Mojo, about 40 miles outside of the capital city Addis Ababa. Furthermore, we were able to partner with local farmers to supply us with the necessary harvest for our needs once the facility opened.
As many of you remember from our post in February 2015 (see link), we were excited to announce the opening of our plant with over 30 employees responsible in picking, drying, and blending herbs, as well as processing spices for export to sell at our Brundo store in Oakland, online and for use at Café Colucci. Since then, the staff at Brundo International has been working diligently to bring you fresh spices directly from farm to table. The operational work has been going smoothly and on November 10, 2015, our first shipment, a full container of various spices and herbs, made it to Oakland with a clear pass through FDA and customs. What we have accomplished is by no means an easy task, but the chances and risks we took were worth it. We had the vision but most of all we were committed and determined to make this dream a reality. Our first container from our fully staffed spice factory directly from our dry port, Mojo to Oakland, was a milestone.
We are excited to share this news with you and in the upcoming months, we plan to feature the amazing staff of Brundo International, the local farmers we partner with and give you an in depth look of our work in Ethiopia. For now we want to say thank you to our loyal customers who believed in us and who helped us achieve this dream.