Coffee has been the domain of coffee long before modern man ever set foot in it. The climatic conditions, soil composition and elevation are simply perfect for coffee - which is no wonder, as coffee evolved on these very slopes. Even these days, when mankind is conquering a bigger and bigger area of the natural environment, wild coffee trees can still be found growing wild in the deep forests
of Ethiopia, making it the most diverse country when it comes to coffee by far. Almost every farmer cultivates their own variety, descended from the local wild trees. The weather also allows for both natural and dry processing methods
. Coupled with the diversity of climate and landscape, you can find all kinds of tastes here, but the most common traits are strong acidity and flat to medium body.
Ethiopian coffee is characteristically categorised according to the region it comes from. The names come from various backgrounds - historical kingdom names, cities, districts nations and/or administrative regions. The most famous are Sidama, Yirgacheffe and Guji (emancipated subdivisons of Sidama), Harrar, Limmu, Jimma, Nekempte and Bebeka. Each has common characteristics, but as we mentioned before, every coffee will be unique. For example Yirgacheffe coffees are known for their floral and fruity flavours, while Guji is popular for a note of jasmine and a generally tea-like body, and Harrar is almost sirop-like with after-taste of forest fruits.
Ethiopia is considered a coffee superpower, with not only magnificent coffee history
, but also 5th place in the list of coffee exporters in the world and 1st in Africa
. Despite all this, most Ethiopian farmers only own up to 2 hectares of land. It is usually not possible to produce enough coffee for individual export, so the farmers usually sell their produce to a local processing station or cooperatvie, where coffee from a certain region is mixed. This creates significant problems with tracing coffee all the way to its origin, although the legislative changes to the Ethiopian market in 2017 had made the process significantly easier, and soon we can expect smaller and more individual relationships to be made in Ethiopia. These changes also motivate the farmers themselves to increase the quality, because they can now stand out of the crowd, beat the competition and gain higher value on the market. And of course, this model is also welcome by roasters, as there is greater transparency and greater individuality in the taste of coffee.
Coffee in Ethiopia has centuries, if not millennia, of tradition
and became an indispensable part of daily life. Coffee culture in Ethiopia is nothing like in the rest of the world, although international-style cafés are slowly creeping into Addis Ababa, Mek’ele, Hawassa, Bahir Dar and the other metropolises of Ethiopia. The traditional “coffee ceremony” is up to 3 hours long and the entirely family is involved, often including friends and guests of the house, but the preparation should be done by the head woman of the house. First, coffee beans are roasted on a pan above a fire of firewood. Then they are grinded by hand in a metal mortar into fine powder. Then, coffee is boiled in hot water in a traditional claypot called the “jebenna”. The final beverage is poured into typical blue and white ceramic cups and sweetened with a large amount of sugar. The cups are then served on a stool or plate sprinkled with herbs and an incense-burner, which keeps the bad spirits away, and popcorn. This ritual can be repeated in the morning, after lunch and before going to bed. The coffee ceremony is traditionally the time when the family and/or the entire community exchange news, decide on important issued or make trade deals.
When it comes to modern coffee preparation, Ethiopian coffee is suitable for all kinds of coffee from filtered to espresso, depending on the coffee and roast. Feel free to develop your own coffee ritual, because Ethiopian coffees will surely find a place deep in your heart.