Ethiopia: a coffee rough guide
Coffee and travel go hand in hand, they are perfect companions for a short trip to a neighbouring city, a far away place, or as a form of escapism in the midst of your day. As we embark on yet another sourcing season stuck at home without travel, we’re feeling a little nostalgic about our friends in far places.
This week, we’re finishing up our round the world trip by inviting you once again to stop over with us virtually as we visit our favourite coffee growing regions, revealing some of the places, farms, and secrets we have discovered along the way. So, without further delay, here’s a quick stop over in Ethiopia…
Where to go? Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Guji, Harar
Favourite Mills? Chelbessa, Mokonisa, Layo Taraga, Raro Boda, Dangura, Boji Kelloo, Kore,
At a glance:
Ethiopian coffees are famous for changing a coffee drinker's perception of what coffee can taste like. As the birthplace of coffee, it grows informally in a wild and beautiful way with an amazing genetic variety among coffee plants – many yet to be categorized under the moniker of Ethiopian heirloom.
Due to the local nature of coffee growing in Ethiopia, the majority of coffee production is supported by thousands of smallholder farmers who own their own small plots of family land and grow in relatively small volumes. These local plots have a rich, deep, and lush vegetation with ideal conditions for coffee growing. Most coffees are grown without the use of any agricultural chemicals in the shade and among other plants.
One of the most famous coffee growing regions is Sidamo where some of the best coffees in the world are produced. Within Sidamo are beloved areas like Yirgacheffe and Guji, which are celebrated in the coffee world for their delicate bright, floral, and sweet coffees.
A must see:
Fly into Addis Ababa and spend a day cupping lovely Ethiopian coffees in the city lab. While there, experience the amazing city life, street markets, foods, and culture. Then drive out of the city and head south into the pastoral rural landscapes of the Ethiopian countryside where the architecture turns to mud and straw. Stop in the small villages of Kochere or Yirgacheffe and spend a night at a coffee mill guest house. After dinner, end your day with an amazing Ethiopian sunset, a traditional coffee ceremony, and fall asleep listening to the sounds of coffee being sorted, bagged, and prepared for export.
What not to miss?
- Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony – One of Ethiopia’s biggest social events is the coffee ceremony. A two to three hour family event where coffee is pan roasted over open fire, hand ground and then brewed slowly over the open flame is used throughout the country as a main social connection to discuss community issues, life, politics etc. It is common for families to enjoy two of these ceremonies per day and it is a sign of respect and friendship.
- Traditional Drying Method (Natural Process) – Much of Ethiopian coffee is processed traditionally or naturally. This method is how they’ve processed coffee for centuries and it hasn’t changed too much over that time period. Ethiopian naturally processed coffees are sun-dried with the coffee cherries fruit left on the bean. The fruit pulp is not removed until just before export. These coffees are extremely wild and fruity with intense aromatics and flavours of blueberry, strawberry, and chocolate.