Welcome to a new installment of Coffee Country Spotlight, the only place you can learn about an interesting country and their role in the world of coffee, all while sipping your own steamy cup of delicious pick me up any time of day coffee. Today’s country of choice is….drum roll please…Ethiopia (Did you catch that awesome announcer voice?)
Ethiopia is a large country located in Africa. In fact, it actually sits in the horn of Africa. Ethiopia is filled with ancient culture, including obelisks, tombs, castles and churches. The capital of this fabulously country rich in culture is Addis Ababa, which has a population of 94.1 million people as of 2013. I want to give you a few interesting facts about Ethiopia before we dive into the real coffee talk.
- Ethiopia is the only country in the world that has 13 months in a year.
- The legendary Ark of the Covenant is said to be housed in a church in this country.
- Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has its own alphabet.
- The oldest fossil skeleton of a human was found here, and so was coffee. This means both mankind and mankind’s favorite beverage were both found in this country.
Now, allow me to enlighten you about some fun information on coffee and Ethiopia. The coffee plant (coffea Arabica) originated in Ethiopia. Even though the coffee plant began in this country, today only about 3% of the global coffee market comes from here. That 3% equates to Ethiopia being ranked as the seventh largest producer of coffee in the world. The funny thing is that only about 3% of the global coffee market comes from Ethiopia and yet the coffee market supplies the country with about 60% of its foreign income. This statistic has shown that about 15 million people who live in Ethiopia rely on coffee production in some form or another for their livelihood.
Now, let’s talk beans! Ethiopian coffee beans are grown in only a few areas- Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Limu. The beans produced in these regions are named after these regions to keep things less confusing. The Sidamo beans are a small, greyish-colored bean known for the deep, spicy wine or chocolate taste as well as its floral aroma. Some of those who have experienced Sidamo coffee have said there is a distinct flavor of lemon and citrus about the coffee.
The Harar beans are the oldest coffee beans still produced today. These medium-sized greenish-yellow beans are known for their distinct fruity wine flavor. The Harar bean is a dry processed bean and the entire sorting and processing of these beans is done almost entirely by human hands.
The beans are also categorized into three different varieties, Longberry, Shortberry and Mocha. The Longberry consists of the largest beans. Shortberry are smaller than the Longberry but they are still considered a high-grade coffee bean and originates in Eastern Ethiopia. The Mocha is a very rare and highly-prized commodity bean. Mocha Harars have been known for their peaberry beans that have flavors relating to chocolate, spice and citrus.
I don’t know about you but suddenly the cup of coffee I’m sipping on seems dull and lifeless compared to these varieties. Who’s with me on trying some new coffee in the near future?