Ethiopian Coffee - All You Need to Know
People love Ethiopian Coffee Beans, perhaps more so than any other brew. But why? Could it be because Ethiopia, a country in Africa, was the birthplace of both humanity AND Coffee?
Homo Sapiens spread out from the continent some 70,000 years ago, thus moulding the world we know today. The discovery of Coffee, meanwhile, dates back only a few hundred years. However, the two eventually combined to shape the culture we now live in.
This is almost certainly a coincidence, but it still begs the question: what makes these Coffee Beans so special? This article will look at it from all angles. We will explore the ins and outs of this much-loved beverage and why, after centuries, we still adore it so!
What is Ethiopian Coffee?
Ethiopia is one of the world’s biggest Coffee producers. According to 2016 statistics, it was the fifth-largest globally, as well as being the largest in Africa. Every year, the country’s growing regions produce 384,000 metric tonnes of Coffee, with 15 million citizens employed in the industry.
Most know (and love) this country for being the geographical home of Arabica Coffee, with 90% of production considered ‘organic’. Often, Ethiopian Coffee Beans are of Single Origin Coffee, which is the preference of many a connoisseur.
The beans can be either dry or wet-processed, which ultimately has a significant influence on the final taste. This very much depends on which region of Ethiopia you buy your Coffee from. As a rule of thumb, though, Coffee from Ethiopia has a distinct fruity flavour with floral undertones. It is typically high in acidity, too.
History of Ethiopian Coffee
Ethiopia is the birthplace of Coffee. However, it wasn’t a human that reportedly first made this discovery; rather, a goat! According to legend, an Abyssinian livestock herder named Kaldi once lived in present-day Ethiopia around 850 CE. One day, while strolling across his land, Kaldi noticed his goats grazing on an unknown plant.
It quickly became apparent that the animals’ energy levels had risen significantly as they pranced excitedly around their pasture. Intrigued, Kaldi decided to try the berries on the plant for himself. He soon felt the same sense of elation. Stuffing his pockets, Kaldi returned home to tell his wife about his experiences.
The couple agreed that Kaldi should seek council with the monks at the monastery near Lake Tana. There, Kaldi presented the chief monk with the berries as he recounted the story of how he had stumbled upon them. As it turned out, the chief monk was less than enthusiastic, believing it to be the work of demonic forces.
The monk, fearing the wrath of evil spirits, tossed the berries into an open fire. Within minutes, however, the room filled with the aroma of roasting Ethiopian Coffee Beans. It wasn’t long before other monks nearby came to inspect the wonderful smell. The beans were retrieved from the fire and then crushed to extinguish the embers.
Finally, the monks transferred the beans to an ewer and poured hot water over them. It began to brew, ultimately creating the Coffee we know and love today - or so the story goes. Whether there is any truth to this tale is a topic of considerable debate. While it’s most likely a myth, one way or another, it gave rise to this much-loved beverage.
Ethiopia Coffee Regions
Ethiopia is a landlocked East African country. It borders Eritrea to the North and Northeast, while to the East is Djibouti and Somalia. To the South, meanwhile, is Kenya, and to the West is Sudan and South Sudan.
When it comes to its Coffee-growing regions, there are many. In fact, the total land area covered by Arabica plants and other varieties is around 400,000 hectares.
Most areas have a harvest season that runs from November to February. This includes the three primary growing regions: Sidamo, Yirgacheffe (technically a subregion of Sidamo) and Harrar. Each one has something unique and, indeed, extraordinary to offer:
This region is undeniably Ethiopia’s best-known in terms of Coffee. Indeed, its production has become synonymous with the area’s rich culture. The methods used for growing, harvesting and processing Sidamo Coffee have been passed down through countless generations. Most plants are high-grown and subject to near-perfect climatic conditions.
Ethiopian Coffee Beans that originate from here tend to have complex, aromatic flavours with notes of spices and fruit. They’re to the taste of many, including many here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company. In particular, these beans are ideal for espressos or French Press Coffees.
Yirgacheffe is a subregion found within Sidamo, which in turn finds itself in southern Ethiopia. It borders the Great Rift Valley while boasting fertile soil at high elevations. In fact, these elevations qualify the region’s Coffee as Strictly High Grown (SHG). This allows the plants to grow slowly so that they deliver nutrients to the Coffee while developing the best flavours.
Many compare the taste of Yirgacheffe Coffee to the likes of Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. It consists of a distinct array of fragrances, combined with dark chocolate notes and hints of fruit, pepper and citrus.
Located to the east of Addis Abada, Ethiopia’s capital city, Harrar has acquired renown for two things. The first is its history as a major holy city in Islam. The second is its popular dry-processed Coffee. Harrar is also known for being the highest growing region in the country. This, of course, contributes significantly to the taste and quality of the Coffee produced here.
Like many other areas within the country, the locals of Harar region practice the Ethiopian Coffee ceremony. However, if you prefer not to partake in such rituals, worry not.
After all, Harrar Coffees have much to offer regardless of your cultural inclinations. Variations include Mocha, Shortberry, Longberry and Peaberry. Most of these tend to have a notably rich flavour with chocolate overtones.
Buy Ethiopian Coffee Online
If you’d like to buy your morning cuppa by region, we stock both Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Ethiopian Sidamo Coffees. Alternatively, you could opt for our equally delicious Ethiopian Mocha Coffee. Whatever you choose, you’ve decided well with us.
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company pack every Tea, Tisane and Coffee fresh to order. This ensures not only quality but also consistency. For over 30 years, our unique range has enthralled thousands around the world. Find out why today with our Ethiopian Coffee Beans! We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.