Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia and today it stands as Africa’s top, and the world’s seventh largest, coffee producer. Ethiopia has provided the world with some of the greatest coffee beans for hundreds of years. Ethiopian coffee is best described as having a bright, floral profile and is typically sold by region (Harrar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo, to name a few).
Ethiopia has the perfect environment to grow coffee—highland areas with rich soil and an arid climate. Around 60% of their foreign income is thanks to their coffee production and it’s estimated that 15 million Ethiopians rely on coffee in some way for their livelihood. The Ethiopian Coffee Exchange was created in 2008 to rationalize pricing, help protect farmers from the erratic market, and push for the use of more sustainable practices that can also provide more jobs.
Three methods of coffee production are used in this country: forest coffees, plantation coffees, and garden coffees. For forest coffees, beans are grown in the wild and harvested by locals. Garden coffees are intentionally grown on smaller plots of land along with various crops and are measured with trees instead of acres. The garden coffee technique is the most popular in Ethiopia.
Not only is coffee vital to Ethiopia’s economy and workforce, it’s also important to their culture. So much so that a daily event was created called the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. This ceremony begins with coffee being roasted on a small stove and letting the scent float around for guests to enjoy. Next, incense is lit to ward off any negative spirits. After that, the beans are crushed with a stone block and boiled with a variety of spices. Finally, it’s poured into small cups and sugar is added.
The oldest male in the group is served first, and the youngest child has the serving duties. This is a sign of respect for elders and symbolizes the connection between all generations. The ceremony takes anywhere from one to two hours, while three rounds of coffee are served and often enjoyed with bread or popcorn. Being invited to this gathering entails friendship and respect. Their harvesting season is from November to February and is home to around 15 million small scale farmers.
Ethiopia is a beautiful place, full of culture and breathtaking natural landscapes. It’s also the home of our Ethiopian East Harrar Abidir.