African coffee is consistently ranked as some of the best on the planet, in part because that’s where coffee was born. Every varietal in existence is the product of Ethiopian and Sudanese coffee plants’ incredible voyage around the world. From fruity and syrupy to earthy and tea-like, Africa’s variably high growing altitudes make for eclectic, sometimes unexpected flavors.
The Birthplace of Coffee
Thought to be the true origin of the coffee plant, Ethiopia has the perfect conditions for coffee growing. Its namesake Heirloom varietal grows wild in rainforests that provide the cherries with essential canopy cover. Our Ethiopian coffee comes from two places in Ethiopia: the Oromia Region and the Gedeo Zone.
The Sidama Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union (SCFCU) in Dire K’alu, Oromia Region, Ethiopia, was established to represent producers throughout Southern Ethiopia. It is now the second-largest cooperative union in Ethiopia, with 80,000 farmers in its ranks as of 2013. Our Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Sidamo is sourced from family farms around the Shoye Cooperative. Grown around 2,000 masl (meters above sea level), this coffee is sweet and complex.
In the Gedeo Zone grows our Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a sweet and mild coffee. With hints of bright citruses like sweet tangerine and lime, the acidity level is powerful and bright, while the cup finishes with a dry, lemon tea finish. The Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperatives Union (YCFCU) is composed of 13 member organizations who were exploited by the government around 2002. Despite bankruptcy, the ‘90s coffee crisis, and member hesitancy, the YCFCU reemerged. Their focus lies in sustainable coffee advancement and improving member farmers’ standard of living.
Washing and Drying
Of our five Ethiopian offerings, Sidamo Guji is the only coffee that’s processed naturally, meaning the coffee beans are dried inside their cherries. This process imparts more syrupy and sweet flavors in the final cup. The rest (aside from Organic Sidamo’s Swiss Water Process) are all fully washed. Fully washed is typical of high-quality coffee. Washed coffee is all about the seed, not the cherry. Most specialty coffees are washed because this process gives the most true-to-origin experience, as the mucilage can impart syrupy flavors if left intact during processing. In line with African tradition, all coffees are dried on raised beds, which are specialized beds made of wood, chicken wire, and plastic netting that promote airflow.
Fresh Roasted Coffee Keeps It (Mostly) Light-Medium
To preserve the eclectic, wine-like flavors of coffee’s motherland, we crafted our Ethiopian roast profiles on the lighter side.
To preserve the unique flavors of coffee’s motherland, we typically roast our Ethiopian coffees lighter, which highlights their juicy fruit and creamy notes. Ethiopian coffees are lauded for their wine-like brilliance and pleasant acidity, consistently ranking at the top of most Q grader’s cupping forms. At the same time, however, Ethiopian coffee is very versatile, so it tastes great at most roast levels, as is the case with our FTO Yirgacheffe and Dark Yirgacheffe Kochere. A little Maillard flavor gives the coffees’ naturally sweet and delicate notes a deep, honeyed undertone like a cordial cherry or caramelized fruit.
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