Samuel Demisse isn’t your average coffee connoisseur — the owner and founder of Keffa Coffee in Baltimore MD was born just outside of Keffa, the Southwestern Ethiopian province well regarded as the place where coffee originated. The family business was coffee and when Demisse was 17 he joined his fathers flourishing coffee business. Demisse then spent around 10 years traveling around the world learning everything about the coffee market and helping his father with farming and exporting.


He launched Keffa, named for his home province, in 2006 after noticing a scarcity of Ethiopian coffee imports in the U.S. Vincent Latesta, the president and CEO of Ceremony Coffee Roasters, said he began purchasing Ethiopian coffee from Demisse more than a decade ago. “It’s been fun to watch him grow and really make his mark on specialty coffee,” he said, noting Demisse’s role in brewing Baltimore’s coffee community. Through Keffa, he organizes events, parties and friendly competitions throughout the year, inviting coffee roasters from New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.


Demisse was placed in the top three of the U.S. Coffee Cup Tasters Championship four times and hosts an annual class for a coffee tasters certification program.


Coffee is a natural lifestyle for the Ethiopian-born entrepreneur, whose wholesale company now promotes and sells 2.5 million pounds of specialty coffee beans a year.