Ethiopia has a rich tradition of exporting some of the finest coffee beans in the world. Here is a brief rundown of what makes this such a luxury when it comes to having the very best coffee in your own kitchen.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Coffea arabica, which is the most popular coffee species in the world, originated from Ethiopia. It is believed that a goat herder, by the name Kaldi, discovered coffee at the beginning of the 9th century. After his goats ate red berries from some wild shrubs in a bush, he noticed the energizing effect they had on his flock, and he decided to taste some himself, and he enjoyed them. Since then, people have been growing and drinking coffee in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. In fact, the drink has become an integral part of the Ethiopian culture and society, such that an elaborate ceremony is held regularly, just to drink coffee. In addition, it is the only country in the world where the locals consume over fifty percent of its total coffee production.
Main Types of Ethiopian Coffee Beans And Their Flavors
Ethiopian coffee is one of the most unique and sought-after coffees in the world, thanks to the rich array of varieties and flavors available. From rich red wine, to spicy, to chocolate tones, Ethiopia coffee has the best range of flavors one can ever ask for. The diverse tastes are attributed to the different climatic conditions of the growing regions.
There are two varieties of Ethiopian coffee: wet-processed and dry-processed varieties. The wet-processed beans are washed, and have light body and less wild tastes. They include Sidamo, Limu and Ghimbi among others. The dry-processed beans, on the other hand, are sun-dried, and have a rich earthy flavor with full body. Examples include, Harrar, Koratie etc. Here’s an in-depth look into different types of Ethiopian coffee beans and their flavors.
Ethiopian Harrar Coffee
This type of coffee is of the Arabica species, and is grown on small farms in Harrar region, in the Eastern part of the country. It is one of the oldest wild varieties used to make coffee to date. Ethiopian Harrar is known for its full body, dry edge, medium acidity and unique wine flavor. The beans, which are of medium size, have a distinctive greenish-yellow color. They are dry-processed, meaning that they are left to dry naturally in the sun, usually on tables and patios. The sorting and processing is done entirely by skillful manual laborers.
There are three categories of Ethiopian Harrar: longberry, shortberry, and mocha. The longberry variety, which is the most popular, has the largest beans, and is known for its slightly acidic, wine-like flavor. The shortberry variety are smaller in size than the longberry beans. The mocha, or mocca variety, command very high prices due to its pearberry beans. Rather the normal 2 beans per coffee cherry, mocha harrar has only one bean per cherry.
The best Harrar coffee beans have heavy body and rich aroma, with strong, dry, winy to fruity flavor. It is also not unusual to observe an intense aroma of blackberries or blueberries in this type of coffee.
Ethiopian Sidamo Coffee
Ethiopian Sidamo grows exclusively in Sidamo, in the southern part of the country. It has two varieties: washed and natural (sun-dried) coffee types. In addition, it has medium beans and greenish-grayish color. It is especially appreciated for its low-acidity, and deep, sweet flavor. A good Sidamo coffee usually has well-balanced tones of chocolate, wine and citrus.
Examples of Ethiopian Sidamo include Yirgachefe and Guji coffee varieties. The Yirgachefe coffee, which is the most favored of the two, is wet-processed (washed), and has a mild, fruity and aromatic taste.
Ethiopian Limu Coffee
Ethiopian Limu is a high quality coffee that grows in the Southwestern and South-central parts of Ethiopia. It has medium sized beans with unique roundish shape, and greenish color. Limu, which is wet-processed, has a noticeable sweet, winy and spicy flavor, with well balanced acidity and body. Because of this, it is sought after by numerous roasters around the world.
Ethiopian Ghimbi Coffee
This type of coffee is produced from the Western part of Ethiopia. It is distinguished by its sharp acidity, longer lasting body than Harrar coffee, as well as complex flavors and aromas. It is wet-processed, just like Sidamo and Limu.
Overall, Ethiopian coffee remains one of the best coffee varieties in the world. With a wide array of flavors to try, you’ll never run out of options. If you find yourself in Ethiopia, make an effort to take part in their coffee ceremony, to enjoy coffee like an Ethiopian.