Ethiopian Coffee Overview
Ethiopia prides itself on being the birthplace of coffee, and their story of coffee starts with a legend.
Once upon a time, somewhere around 850 AD, there was a young goatherd named Kaldi. He used to take his go to graze at Kaffa province pastures. One day his goats ate red berries from a nearby shrub. When Kaldy noticed this made his goats jump around excitedly, he tasted the berries himself and felt energized and elated. He took his discovery to monks, who soon realized that consuming berries helps them stay awake during prayers that sometimes took hours. They roasted the beans and soaked them in hot water to preserve the flavor and thus created coffee we know today. (we named our dog Kaldi after this story!)
Ethiopia first started exporting coffee in the 15th century. It was brought by Somali merchants to Yemen for Sufi mystics, as they drank it to concentrate better on their chanting. Once Christianity took roots in this country, coffee was banned by the Ethiopian Orthodox church. In the 19th century, Ethiopians consumed coffee again thanks to the Emperor Melenik II favoring the beverage.
Today, coffee export makes up around 70% of the county's export earnings, and it is estimated that a quarter of the Ethiopian population works within the coffee industry. Although Ethiopia currently holds fifth place in the world for coffee production, this country is one of the biggest consumers of coffee, drinking about half of the coffee they produce.
Almost all coffee is grown on small farms, or ''garden coffees'' that cover less than a hectare and producing around 300kg of coffee per year. This is also one of the only countries with wild grown coffee that is harvested from native forest trees. Even the famous Geisha varietal can be found growing wild here.
There are somewhere between six and ten thousand varieties of coffee in Ethiopia, and most of them are yet to be classified. For that reason, they label their coffee as Ethiopian heirloom.
Being located close, but not too close to the equator, gives Ethiopia the perfect climate for growing coffee. The region is filled with lush vegetation providing shade to coffee trees. The temperatures are mild, and there is plenty of rain. Because of these fantastic conditions, Ethiopian farmers rarely use any agricultural chemicals. This gift from nature is only endangered by global warming, causing less rainfall and more droughts. Quite a large amount of coffee produced in Ethiopia is organic certified and we tend to sell these from time to time during the year.
Natural processed coffee beans are dried with the coffee cherry intact. Ethiopia is famours for producing incredible sun dried naturals.
Washed process: Over half of all Ethiopian coffee is processed using this method. The coffee cherry is pulped to removed the fruit, fermented and then washed. Typically this is done at washing stations and these are supplied by several hundred farmers who will hand harvest and delivery cherry from their small farm.
Hand sorting natural process coffee to remove defects:
Ethiopia has many different producing regions all with their own micro climates and weather variations that helps to differentiate the flavours. Washing stations tend to often have their own slight variations on how to process coffee and this helps to create coffees with unique and interesting flavours character.
Naturals process: These coffees tend to be fruity, juicy, floral and Ethiopia is famours for producing the best naturals in the world.
Washed process: These coffees tend to be juicy, well balanced with floral and stone fruit notes. There is a wide range of flavours found in the washed coffees of Ethiopia and cup score can often reach into the high 80's.