Ethiopia Coffee Tours
Coffee in Ethiopia
It is no surprise that Ethiopia has the ideal growing environment for producing fantastic coffee. The high elevations and mountainous regions make for excellent growing conditions. There are more than a thousand varietals of coffee beans grown in Ethiopia. Because coffee trees grow naturally in Ethiopia, most of the coffees are under shade, among other plants, and without the use of agricultural chemicals.
Three coffee production methods are used in Ethiopia: Forest Coffees, Garden Coffees, and Plantation Coffees. For Forest Coffees, the beans are wild-grown and harvested by the locals. Garden Coffees are grown in smaller plots of land alongside a variety of crops and are measured by trees rather than hectares. Plantation Coffees are beans grown on large estates. Only a small percentage of Ethiopian coffee is harvested this way. The Garden Coffee technique is the most popular method for producing coffee in Ethiopia.
Coffee is not only a popular crop in Ethiopia, but it is also an essential part of the culture. So much so, that they created a daily event known as the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. During this ceremony, locally grown coffee beans are roasted on a flat iron pan over a small charcoal stove. After the roasting is finished, the beans are placed on a clay plate or straw mat, and the aromas are savored among the guests. The beans are then crushed/grounded by pestle and mortar into powder and brewed with boiling water and spices (cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom). The coffee is poured into small cups with sugar added, and incense is released into the air to cast away any evil spirits.
As a sign of respect, the oldest male of the group is served first, and the youngest child is in charge of serving. This tradition symbolizes the connection between all of the generations. Three rounds of coffee are served during the ceremony, and bread or popcorn is often enjoyed with it. The complete ceremony takes about one to two hours, and an invitation to the gathering signifies friendship and respect. Couldn’t you tempted to be part of this ceremony in Ethiopia?
Ethiopian Coffee Flavor Profile
The ideal higher elevations in Ethiopia certifies all of their green coffee to be labeled as Strictly High Grown (SHG) / Strictly Hard Bean (SHB). Due to the altitude, SHG coffees are grown slower, allowing for more nutrients to be delivered to the coffee beans. This increase in nutrients makes the coffee denser and more flavorful. Dry processed beans were traditional more common, but wet-processed beans are increasingly becoming more popular.
There are three central regions that single-origin coffee is produced and sold: Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Harrar. Each one of these regions produces coffee with its own distinct flavor profile.
Yirgacheffe: These coffees have a sweet and fruity flavor and aroma, with a light to medium body. They are incredibly fragrant and are regularly rated and reviewed as the highest quality Arabica beans in the world. Since they are premium grade coffees, they are often more expensive.
Sidamo: Best known for its rich mouthfeel, full bodies, and sweet and complex flavor profiles. Sidamo beans often have low acidity, with a vibrant aftertaste. Because of their flavor consistency, they are a staple Ethiopian bean for many coffee roasters.
Harrar: Most commonly dry-processed, these beans are heavy-bodied with a very spicy and fragrant aroma. They have a floral acidity and produce a bright, almost intensely flavored cup. The taste is often described as "wild" or "jammy" and is reminiscent of a blackberry.
Ethiopian beans as a whole are known for their winey quality and bright mouthfeel. They typically have a light to medium body, higher acidity, and complex flavor notes. Most of the coffees from Ethiopia are naturally processed, which means that they are dried with the cherry fruit still attached to the coffee bean. This style of processing gives the coffee fruity or winy tones and bright acidity. Wet processing is a newer method, and the fruit is removed. The final cups are clean, floral, and complex.
From the rich and fruity flavors of Harrar to the bright and floral notes of Yirgacheffe, the unique characteristics that Ethiopian coffees have offered have become some of the best-reviewed and most sought after premium coffee beans in the world. Here are some quick facts about Ethiopian coffee:
Ethiopia is the 5th Largest Coffee Producer in the world.
1,500-2,200 meters (above sea level)
November - February
Small Scale Farmers:
Arabica: Native Heirloom Varieties