Coffee has a very real hand in Ethiopia’s economy, traditions, and daily life. Over two-thirds of the country’s income comes from coffee sales and exports, and there’s a very big notion that Ethiopia is coffee’s birthplace – meaning the coffee bean is a very important part of Ethiopia as a whole. The term “coffee bean” may even originate from Ethiopia as a result of a mispronunciation long ago of the name of the region Kaffa and the Ethiopian word for coffee bun. Coffee is so deeply entrenched in Ethiopian culture that traditional coffee ceremonies, which often last several hours and whose guests are highly regarded are even held.
The Arabica coffee bean, which is native to Ethiopia, is grown in three main regions: Sidamo, Harar, and Yirgacheffe. Each region boasts their own unique style and flavor of coffee. In Sidamo, the beans produced are small and grey, but don’t let them fool you as these beans pack a unique spicy, yet light flavor, and a delicious floral aroma. Yirgacheffe is considered to be the best of the Ethiopian coffee productions among most coffee drinkers. The coffee from this region is bold and rich with an amazing aroma. Harar produces a unique coffee red wine enthusiasts will love as it is known to have a unique fruity flavor that resembles red wine in some aspects. Also sometimes referred to as mocha, this coffee is strong, dry, and more acidic – but absolutely delicious. Interestingly enough in regards to the wine taste, Ethiopian coffee harvests vary in flavor from year to year, much like wine. This has to do with environmental aspects and the changing grow conditions. While these regions produce the most popular and well known coffee, lesser known, but wonderful, coffees are also produced througout the country. Ghimbi, for instance, has a chocolate tasting coffee that is sure to satisfy.
Bean processing in Ethiopia is done one of two ways: washed or dry processing. In wet processing, also referred to as washed coffee, the coffee cherries are placed in water, where the good fruit will sink and the bad fruit will rise to the top. The the skin and some of the cherry is then removed before it is dried. Dry processing, or natural coffee, consists of the cherries being sorted for ripeness and then placed in the sun to dry. Both processes contribute to distinct flavors of coffee – those looking to enjoy a smooth flavored and light coffee should try the wet-processed beans, while those looking for a bolder and stronger coffee will be happiest with dry-processed beans.
Key Ethiopian Coffee Profile Notes
Varietals: Sidamo, Harar, Yirgacheffe, and many more.
Grow Regions: Harrar, Sidamo, Yergacheffe, Limmu, Djimmah, Lekempti, Bebeka, and more.
Growing Altitude: Between 1500 and 1800 Meters
Processes: Wet and Dry
General Cup Profile: Floral, citrus, wine, chocolate
Production Amount: 506,000,000 lbs.
Production Amount Exported: 240,000,000 lbs.
Harvest Seasons: Between November and February