When it comes to coffee, there is no better place to start than Africa. The historical Ethiopian
kingdom of Kaffa is considered the birthplace of Arabica coffee, and even today, wild Coffea Arabica trees are still abundant in the local rainforests
. To grow, coffee trees require special conditions, which play an important role in the resulting taste of the beverage. To claim that all coffees originating in Africa taste the same would be a gross simplification, but on the other hand it is true that there are certain characteristics common to most African coffees.
Coffee is cultivated on almost all continents
between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In Africa, this encompasses most countries, but not all of them cultivate coffee. The most important producers are for example Ethiopia,
Kenya, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda or Tanzania. African coffees can offer a great diversity of tastes for your cup of coffee. For some people, the first experience with good African coffee is a huge surprise, because of the unbelievably strong fruity flavour. Complexity and strong acidity are common traits, which make African coffees a popular pick for espresso blends, but they are also a great choice for filtered coffee. Jasmine tea to Earl Grey, stonefruits to berries, there are countless tastes you can find in cups brewed from African coffee.
The reason many African coffees can taste very similarly is caused by the unique history of coffee cultivation
in Africa. About 50% of African coffee farmers only own about 2 hectars of land, which means about 200-300 coffee trees. This is barely enough to produce two 60kg bags of coffee per harvest. This fragmentation of production makes it very hard to export coffee directly, and thus farmers brings their produce to a local processing or washing station, where the coffees from different farms are mixed. This allows the farmers to sell their product, but the uniqueness of the coffee is unfortunately often lost in the process. At Coffea, we strive to achieve the highest level of transparency possible.
African coffees are lucky to have the choice of being processed
both naturally (sun-dried) or washed, because the climate usually allows for both. Naturally processed ones can offer stronger sweetness, while washed ones have exceptional acidity. At Coffea, we prefer to work with naturally processed coffee, as it has a smaller impact on the environment, as it doesn't need as much water as washed coffee.
If you are only just beginning to explore the world of coffee, Africa is definitely the perfect first pick. Many have been enchanted and surprised by how perfectly African coffees can taste without adding sugar or milk. But don't forget that once you venture on this exotic adventure of scents and flavours, you can never turn back. Such is the power of African coffee.