Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopian Coffee

What is Ethiopian coffee?

Ethiopian coffee is revered worldwide for their wild flavours and unique characteristics not found anywhere else in the coffee world. Ethiopia is understood to be the birthplace of arabica coffee, and as such, is recognised by the coffee industry as having the most genetically diverse varietals and occurrence of wild coffee trees. This reputation is reinforced every year by the ever increasing demand for Ethiopian coffee beans and their presence in blends, single origin offerings, and coffee shops worldwide. There is no other coffee origin that offers complexity of flavour quite like Ethiopian coffee.

What is traditional Ethiopian coffee?

Coffee is engrained within Ethiopia's culture. An essential ingredient to traditional Ethiopian life, it usually involves an elegant ceremony with coffee as a centrepiece to bring people together. Traditionally raw coffee beans are roasted fresh on a pan over open flame, ground to a paste and brewed within a djebena or Ethiopian clay pot. During the Ethiopian coffee ceremony the coffee is served to guests to enjoy alongside traditional Ethiopian specialities in the form of pancakes, stews and dhal. This coffee ritual is often enjoyed over an hour or more, and is designed to gather neighbours, family and relatives together.

coffee roaster working at coffee roastery

Flavour Profile of Ethiopian coffee

The flavour profile of Ethiopian coffee beans can range from floral and citrus notes to dark chocolate and ripe strawberry. There are certain regional characteristics that can be identified from each producing region but with the more recent popularity of special processing methods, different and unexpected flavours may be found more across all of Southern Ethiopia.

The profile of Ethiopian coffees will vary based on a number of factors, including variety, process, and region. Naturally processed coffees will have much more pronounced fruit and deep chocolate characteristics, with fermentation adding wine-like qualites and heavier body in the cup. Washed coffees will be lighter and have more bright acidity, and is a truer reflection of terroir characteristics such as lemon tart, floral and citrus notes.

 Is Ethiopian coffee strong?

Coffee strength is not dictated by coffee origin. Strength is usually determined at the roasting stages in the supply chain. Light roast coffee, medium roast coffee, and dark roast coffee all differ in strength. The versatility and range of coffee that Ethiopia produces is such that you are able to roast them in a variety of ways to achieve the coffee flavour that suits your palette. Ethiopia coffee beans are also very versatile to brew, and are tolerant of all brewing methods due to their pleasant acidity, floral taste and complex flavor.

What is special about Ethiopian coffee?

Ethiopian coffee is special as they are uniquely a blend of many different coffea arabica varietals as a result of wild growth, mixed native and planted trees. The Ethiopian coffee industry is also made up of many smallholder coffee farmers who deliver coffee cherry to a central point or washing station. This results in the subsequent green beans from Ethiopia to have an extremely wide range and variability of flavours which many believe to contribute to the unique Ethiopian coffee taste that Ethiopian coffee beans are known for. Coffee produced in Ethiopian also undergoes strict preparation; with natural and washed coffee both remaining popular processing methods.

How is Ethiopian coffee roasted?

Ethiopian coffee can be very versatile in roast. Single origins coffee beans and microlots from various regions are highly sought after in the coffee world. The best Ethiopian coffee beans are stereotypically found in the main producing regions such as Yirgacheffe, Guji,

How is Ethiopian coffee graded?

Most coffee is graded, or classified, through; defect count, the screen size of the bean, and by cupping or tasting the coffee. By seeing, measuring size, and tasting, we can identify the level of quality. At origin, sellers and exporters grade green coffee beans in preparation for exportation with the aim to produce homogenous commercial lots that meet defined quality criteria, and hence facilitate a fair system of pricing. There is no universally accepted grading and classification system for green coffee. Each producing country has developed its own classification and grade charts, which are often also used to set minimum standards for export.

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