Ethiopian Coffee (Unravelling The Secret)

In the world of coffee, Ethiopia is the home of Arabica coffee beans. It has fruity and floral notes. The brewed version of Ethiopian coffee is a plain brew coffee served in a no-handle demitasse cup which was brewed on charcoals in a terra cotta pot.

Coffee is popular all around the globe. With almost every country having coffee drinkers, there are so many flavors and aromas to coffee that it’s impossible to count. Each region makes its own version of coffee. But what about the notorious Ethiopian coffee?

Well, let’s find out what it’s all about.

What Is So Special About Ethiopian Coffee?

coffee in a gray ceramic cup on a wooden table

Ethiopia is the place where the coffee plant was first discovered. And it’s the home of the most premium quality coffee beans; Arabica. Plus, the flavor profile of Ethiopian coffee beans is very unique.  

Among the world’s best coffee origins, Ethiopia and Kenya are on the top of the list.

Kaffa, which is a place in Ethiopia, was where the coffee plant was first discovered. It was said that a goat-herder whose name was Kaldi discovered the coffee plant when one of his goats became energized after eating this one particular plant.

This apparently then lead to the mass discovery of coffee and its energizing benefits. If you wanna read more about the history of coffee, take a look at my other article right here.

The areas which are famous for producing Ethiopian coffee are Sidamo, Limu, Yiracheffe, and Harrar regions.

Furthermore, the coffee beans grown in Ethiopia are grown at a higher altitude. The farms where they are grown are at 1500 to 2500 meters. This is about 5000 to 7000 feet above sea level.

Coffee beans that are grown at a higher altitude are usually much more flavorful than any other coffee bean. The flavors include a fruity mixture of flora, chocolate, citrus, and wine.

Quality

Now that you’ve understood that, another reason for its uniqueness is the quality that they maintain.

Ethiopia produces 4.3% of the global coffee supply and is the fifth-largest producer of coffee in the world. A quarter to a third of the region’s revenue comes from Arabica coffee exports, despite the fact that 50 percent of its coffee is consumed domestically.

Ethiopians have adopted coffee production as an everyday habit, and they see it as a staple food. A phrase in Ethiopia is “Buno daba naw“, which means “Coffee is our bread”. This gives you a clear idea about how much Ethiopia is dependent on coffee.

To give you an idea about the landmass below is the table with types of coffee farms and the area they cover.

Coffee Production Area TypeArea In ha
Home-Garden Coffee50,000
Forest Coffee 70,000
Semi-Forest Coffee215,000
Plantation Coffee35,000
Semi-Forest Plantation Coffee85,000

So, coming back to the coffee farmers, they have to maintain premium quality standards with no compromise. In Ethiopia, coffee farmers who wish to sell their beans as high-quality coffee are subject to specific standards and certifications.

These are as follows:

  • FairTrade certification

It is mandatory in Ethiopia to have this certification that ensures you develop a sustainable farming plan that will alleviate poverty.

  • Utz certification

This certification is an initiative for the private sector focusing mainly on coffee. The track-and-trace system is implemented which is intended to create a sustainable agricultural supply chain in coffee.

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with the objective of promoting responsible forest management. The farms need to have this in order to grow coffee.

  • Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)

Getting a certificate from this commission is also mandatory. By developing standards for agricultural methods, it promotes social and environmental sustainability.

  • Rainforest Alliance (RA)

This is the subsidiary department of SAN that works specifically for rainforests.

  • Bird-friendly or Shade-grown certification.

In order to be classified as 100%, shade-grown and organic, coffee must be labeled “bird-friendly” or “shade-grown.” It makes the farm eco-friendly by protecting migratory birds, native plants, and animals.

Raw Coffee Processing

Another thing that gives it, its impeccable quality is how they process their raw coffee beans before they go for roasting. The two methods that they follow are dry processing and wet processing.

Dry Processing

The dry processing method is also referred to as the unwashed method. In dry processing the coffee cherries are un-pulped. Then, they’re left to dry in the sun.

Wet Processing

This method is also known as the wet method. As the name suggests it’s something to do with water. The coffee cherries are pulped and fermented immediately after they are picked from the trees. They are washed and then sun-dried to remove the mucilage coating.

Have a look at this video that I found about processing.

Brewed Ethiopian Coffee

Now that you have understood the coffee bean productions and processing part, another factor that makes Ethiopian coffee so special is the way that it is brewed.

In Ethiopia, coffee is brewed in a bulbous terra-cotta pot over charcoal. It is brewed without sugar. Then this is served in a demitasse cup. Some people add salt, butter, or sugar to their cups. Also, people don’t add any form of dairy to their coffee.

So, in conclusion, Ethiopian coffee is special in so many ways.

Is Ethiopian Arabica Or Robusta Coffee Bean?

The Ethiopian coffee beans are Arabica coffee beans since only Arabica beans are grown on elevation. These beans are of premium quality.

The origins of coffee are in Ethiopia. Since ancient times, coffee trees have grown naturally in Ethiopia. Without adding any chemicals, the environment is ideal for producing coffee of the highest quality.

The coffee plantation in Ethiopia is home to more than 1,000 varieties of coffee plants. Growing conditions are excellent due to the high altitudes in the southern mountainous region.

Deep soils and lush vegetation characterize the area. In the shade and among other plants, most coffee is grown without agricultural chemicals. Contrary to this, the growing of Arabica coffee anywhere else in the world requires specialized plantations and special conditions, such as shade trees to shade the small coffee trees. That’s why coffee plants grown in Ethiopia are Arabica.

ethiopian coffee ceremony

What Does Ethiopian Coffee Taste Like?

Ethiopian coffee tastes very different from other coffees. The notes range from floral to chocolatey to woody. Depending on the region, it can also taste like berry, wine, and even citrus.

There are many other beverages that people drink besides water. Like energy drinks, juices, tea, and coffee. But coffee is one of those drinks that you can sort of customize. You see, with other drinks, you can’t really do a whole lot. They are prepackaged like energy drinks. Or the most you can do is add ingredients to enhance the flavors like adding Himalayan salt to juice or making green tea with honey.

But with coffee, you can make changes to it at every step. And each factor will impact the taste. One such factor that impacts the quality of coffee beans is the soil. And any coffee variety that is grown in Ethiopian tastes wonderful. Though all coffee has a similar taste profile but depending on the region, it can have various flavor profiles.

Flavor Profile Of Each Region

Let me give you a rundown about each region’s coffee flavor profile.

Different regions of Ethiopia’s coffee beans exhibit recognizable flavor characteristics. You can see these in the following roast profiles:

Yiracheffe Coffee Bean

  • Chocolatey notes
  • Citrus notes
  • High-toned floral flavors
  • Aftertaste is bright with hints of berry and wine.

Sidamo Coffee Bean

  • Balanced notes of berries and lemon
  • Woody aroma
  • Acidity is similar to wine
  • Smooth
a white cup on a white table.

Limu Coffee Bean

  • Hint of spicy flavors
  • Wine notes
  • Sweet with floral notes
  • Low in acidity

Harrar Coffee Bean

  • Very fragrant
  • Pungent in taste
  • Blackberries flavor notes
  • Floral tones
  • Heavy and rich

Final Thoughts.

Ethiopian coffee is simply just Arabica coffee beans grown in Ethiopia. They grow a variety of Arabica coffee beans due to higher elevations and natural soil conditions.

Its unique taste and flavor notes make it commendable.

Coffee cultivation is important in Ethiopia as they are one of the world’s biggest suppliers of coffee. Each bag of Ethiopian coffee showcases just how important coffee is for them.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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