Ethiopia - The Motherland of Coffee
Why Should You Try the Ethiopian Brew?
What is the first thing that pops into your mind when thinking about Ethiopia? Incredible mountains (stretching over 4,500 meters high) or perhaps the famous Nile and its gigantic waterfalls. There is no doubt that Ethiopia offers some of the most extraordinary landscapes anywhere in Africa. But did you know that the country is the place where coffee beans originated? Coffee plays a vital role in Ethiopia's culture and history. Here is what you should know about coffee making in the glorious country.
Ethiopia can surely be called the motherland of Coffee Arabica. The dark drink has been grown for thousands of years, mostly in the forests of southwestern highlands. But did you know that even the name “coffee” comes from Ethiopia? “Kaffa” is a place in the beautiful country where the plant was first discovered. What is more, Ethiopia was the first Coffee Arabica exported in Africa. Even nowadays, it is still considered one of the greatest coffee available.
It all began about 1000 years ago. As we just mentioned, coffee was first discovered in Kaffa, and that is where it got its name. However, it is believed that its history goes back even further. Ethiopians enjoyed the dark drink already in the 9th century. It is thought that the plant traveled from Yemen, and that is when the coffee began its way around the world.
The beginning of the 2000s – a dramatic downfall
If you are an enthusiast of coffee, you might have heard the legendary story of Kaldi – a goat herder that first discovered coffee after noticing that his animals ate the cherries. Later he brought them to the monastery and shared them with monks. Unfortunately, they believed that cherries were the work of the Devil and threw them into the fire. As the coffee cherries burned, the whole area was surrounded by a wonderful aroma.
Realizing their mistake, the monks took the cherries and put them into a jug that was covered with hot water. Then monks decided to drink the brew, and they understood it could help to stay awake during nightly work. Of course, it is not clear whether any of these events actually took place, but it once again shows how important coffee has been in the Ethiopian culture.
Although the story of discovering coffee in Ethiopia is quite entertaining, the rest of the path towards excellent coffee has not been the easiest. Throughout its history, Ethiopia has undergone many changes in its government. Just imagine – they have had three forms of government just in the recent 40 years. Of course, the war with Eritrea (from 1998 to 2000) had a significant impact on farming. Access to land was quite limited, and overall it had a dramatic effect on the economy. Due to this, coffee farming in Ethiopia had a huge downfall. At the beginning of the 2000s, the price of coffee dropped to an ultimate low.
That created a series of different issues. Some farmers even abandoned their crops because it was no longer worth pursuing the production since it was so expensive. Despite the many hardships, coffee still remains Ethiopia’s biggest export. Like other countries, Ethiopia has had to face larger companies trying to take most of their profit. Unfortunately, farmers from these partnerships have made very little. Therefore today, many Fair Trade organizations are paying attention to this issue, trying to ensure that everybody gets compensated fairly.
Coffee making process in Ethiopia
Nowadays, only Arabica coffee is cultivated in Ethiopia. However, there is an enormous variety of individual cultivars, each of them trying to come up with the best taste of the dark drink. Did you know that every year Ethiopia produces around 450 000 tonnes of coffee? Its close neighbors, Kenya and Tanzania, make far less.
How is the coffee-making process different than in other parts of the world? Well, you must understand that there are three production systems used in Ethiopia. Forest Coffees (wild-grown coffee is harvested by the locals), Garden Coffees (they are typically planted in smallholder plots), and Plantation Coffees (grown on large properties but take up only a tiny percentage of the overall Ethiopian coffee). As you may guess from what we have written before, in Ethiopia, you will primarily stumble upon coffee that is produced using the Garden system. That is how our coffee is grown too – in the Sidama zone, by smallholder farmers.
What happens after? Traditionally, coffee in Ethiopia was dry processed. But nowadays, the whole process is changing, and wet processing has become increasingly popular. Since a large part of coffee producers now prefer to use this method, the dark drink features more delicate and floral notes. That is part of what makes the yummy drink so famous.
Fertile soils and high altitudes – the recipe for excellent coffee
In the stunning country, there are five regions that are known for growing coffee. Our company's coffee beans are grown in Sidamo (or Sidama), which is made up of over 20 different administrative areas. Therefore the altitudes and microclimates can vary quite significantly. What is more, the Sidamo is one of the three trademarked coffee regions in the country. There might not be a better place to plant coffee beans since the climate is perfect. Grown at the altitude of 1700 and 1900 meters, our product embodies all the best that Ethiopian coffee has to offer.
But altitude is not the only thing that matters. Sidamo has been blessed with incredibly fertile soil – nitisols. Even though it only amounts to about 1,5% of all soil on this planet, it is one of the most coveted for any type of plantation. It is considered that the best coffee in the world is grown in nitsols. That might be one of the reasons why the Ethiopian brew iis so special.
Year by year, the gorgeous country in East Africa seems to become more influential in the coffee scene. There is no doubt that Ethiopia has a huge potential to sell a large number of selections of specialty coffee. What can you expect when tasting a cup of Ethiopian coffee? The country is known for having hard-type coffee beans. Therefore they have an intense aroma and flavors. Throughout all of the regions, you will stumble upon coffee that has notes of fruit. In some, you may notice hints of berries, while others feature citrus and chocolate. If you are a fan of caramel and milk chocolate, have a cup of our coffee. Your taste buds will surely be pleased!
So, whenever you are having your morning coffee (made from Ethiopian coffee beans), have a moment to stop and truly enjoy all of its exquisite flavors and aroma. As the writer Cassandra Clare wrote – as long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?