The coffee production in Ethiopia is a longstanding tradition which dates back dozens of centuries. Ethiopia is the world’s seventh largest producer of coffee, and Africa’s top producer. Ethiopia is where Coffea Arabica, the coffee plant originates. Ethiopia accounts for around three percent of the global coffee market and around sixty percent of foreign income comes from coffee.
Ethiopia is considered to be the birthplace of the coffee plant and coffee culture. It is thought that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia as early as ninth century. According to legend, the 9th century goat-herder Kaldi discovered the coffee plant after noticing the energizing effect of the plant had on his flock. Kaldi reported his finding to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer.
The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and the energizing power of coffee began to spread.
Ethiopian Coffee Culture
The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is central to the communities of many Ethiopian villages. An invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of friendship or respect and is an excellent example of Ethiopian hospitality.
Performing the ceremony is almost obligatory in the presence of a visitor, whatever the time of day.
Ethiopian Coffee Farming
Most Ethiopian coffees are grown without the use of agricultural chemicals in the most benign of conditions: under shade and intercropped with other crops.
Harrars and Yirgacheffes in particular are what Ethiopians call “garden coffees”, grown on small plots by villagers using completely traditional methods.
Three Types of Arabica Coffee Beans
Longberry: consists of the largest beans and are often considered of the highest quality in both value and flavor.
Shortberry: smaller than the Longberry beans but, are considered a high-grade bean in Eastern Ethiopia where it originates.
Mocha: highly prized commodity. Mocha Harrars are known for their peaberry beans that often have complex chocolate, spice and citrus notes.
Ethiopian Coffee Processing Methods
Variations in the wine and fruit tones of Ethiopian coffees are determined by the processing method.
Dry Processed Coffee
Coffee trees can be found growing uncultivated and often these beans are picked for local consumption. Beans are put out to dry in the fruit and are often roasted and consumed on the spot or sold to local market.
Wet Processed Coffee
This is a more sophisticated large-scale method of processing the coffee bean. The best and ripest coffee fruit is sold to wet processing mills, called washing stations. The fruit is immediately removed from the beans in a series of complex procedures with the help of in-house proprietary machinery before the beans are dried. The immediate removal of fruit involved in wet-processing apparently softens the fruity, wine-like profile of dried in the fruit type of coffees like Harrars and turns it gentle, round, delicately complex and fragrant with floral innuendo.
Washed coffees of Ethiopia include Ghimbi and Yirgacheffe. Ghimbi coffee beans are grown in the western parts of the country and are more balanced, heavier, and has a longer lasting body than the Harrars. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, high-toned and alive with shimmering citrus and flower tones, may be the world’s most distinctive coffee. Other Ethiopia wet-processed coffees – Washed Limu, Washed Sidamo, Washed Jima, and others are typically soft, round, floral and citrusy, but less explosively fragrant than Yirgacheffe. However, they can be really fine and distinctive coffees.
Ethiopia Dry-Processed Harrar
This dry-Processed coffee does not fall into the second-class category with the rest. These appreciated beans from the Harrar region are put out into the sun, fruit and all. Often, the fruit is allowed to dry directly on the tree which produces a wild, fruity, complex sweet, with a slightly fermented aftertaste. This distinctive flavor is called the Mocha taste. In the best Harrar coffees, one can observe an intense aroma of blueberries or blackberries. Ethiopian Harrar coffee is often used in espresso blends to capture the fine aromatics in the crema.
At some point in your life, you either knowingly consumed one of the Ethiopian coffees or without knowing, well, Ethiopian coffees are one of the most known coffees in the world and with different variations, you can try each and find out your favorite or maybe mix it up with other coffees for an enhanced taste!