The ancient land of Abyssinia, today is known as Ethiopia, is the place where coffee originated. Coffee got its name after the Kingdom of Kaffa, where, according to the legend, the use of coffees to create a delicious drink was first discovered. In this article, we’re gonna learn more about authentic Ethiopian Coffee Brands.
Kaffa is located on the Ethiopian highlands, one of the most fertile regions of Africa, and from there, coffees first traveled to Yemen and from there, spread throughout the entire Arabic world! Venetian traders brought it to Europe from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and a couple of centuries later, the whole continent fell in love with the aromatic beverage!
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Almost all coffee in Ethiopia is grown in states of Gambella, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP). Each of these states has several coffee regions, but the most famous ones are Djima, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Harrar, & Limu.
Ethiopian farmers produce Arabica beans exclusively, but the diversity of their plants is unparalleled anywhere in the world, thanks to many types of heirloom varieties native to the region. Firstly, a tiny percentage of coffee is grown on large plantations. We will talk about the Forest Coffee and Garden Coffee below.
Coffee production in the early days consisted of harvesting wild plants, and later farmers begin planting those beans in specific locations in the forest, creating the first coffee farms. This method of production is still used in higher regions of the country, and it is called Forest Coffee.
The second method, called Garden Coffee, is used in lower elevations and consists of small plots, usually less than five acres, planted with coffee. Today, this is the method that produces the most substantial chunk of coffee in Ethiopia.
Small farmers, using the Garden Method, face severe problems due to climate change. As rain patterns shift and change, harvest fails, leading to people abandoning coffee and planting other crops. Since coffee is a shade plant that thrives under the forest canopy, switching crops usually means more deforestation, which is already a severe issue in Africa, further exacerbating the problem.
Hopefully, we will still be able to enjoy great Ethiopian coffee for a long time, but things have a grim outlook at the moment, which is all the more reason to go ahead and try one of these brands on our list.
Volcanica, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
This is probably the most famous Ethiopian coffee brand, and many coffee aficionados have at least heard of it, if not tasted it. Hailing from SNNP state, Yirgacheffe is a unique coffee brand in the sense that the entire crop used in production is harvested from wild plants, growing at the elevation between 5800 and 7600 feet. This ensures that the coffee has its distinctive sweet and fruity taste.
Mostly it is dominated by pineapple, guava, strawberry, and just a hint of dark chocolate aftertaste. Yirgacheffe is regarded as one of the world’s premier gourmet coffee brands.
Out of the Grey
Out of the Grey is an organic coffee roaster out of Fairview and Erie, Pennsylvania. They have been present on the market for quite some time and have established themselves as a quality coffee provider. For their Ethiopian Oromia Harrar, Out of the Grey has partnered up with the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, an association of small coffee farmers from Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Oromia Harrar
Oromia Harrar is certified organic coffee, produced by traditional methods. After harvest, the beans are stripped of their skin and left to dry in the sun. This leaves their natural rich aroma and complex taste intact. Plum and berry dominate the flavor, with a hint of red apple. A delicious cup of Oromia Harrar is a great way to start your day!
Square One Coffee, Ethiopian Layo Taraga
The beans for Ethiopian Layo Taraga coffee, roasted by Square One Coffee, come from the town of Haro Wachu. Some 500 small farmers, each with about half a hectare of land, grow Bourbon variety and supply Layo Taraga washing station with harvested beans, where they are washed and dried in the sun.
The resulting coffee is a fantastic combination of sweet bergamot, sharp acidic, and aftertaste of stone fruit tastes. Layo Taraga coffee is considered Grade 1, Special Prep coffee, since any broken or damaged beans are removed by hand before being packed in sacks and sent to roasters.
Klatch Coffee, Ethiopian Halo Beriti
For this roast, Klatch Coffee uses organic Gedeb Halo Beriti beans from Hambela Coffee Estate in Oromia, owned by METAD Agricultural Development PLC. To ensure the quality of their beans, METAD has built the only private SCA certified coffee quality control lab in Africa. The only light roast on our list, Halo Beriti is similar to Yirgacheffe, but its taste is dominated by mango, cherry, and papaya flavors.
Its clean acidity is delightful and juicy body ensures a highly enjoyable cup of joe. High caffeine content, characteristic for light roasts, makes Halo Beriti a perfect kick-starter for those dark, winter mornings.
RhoadsRoast Coffees, Ethiopian Queen City Harrar Grade 4 Coffee Beans
RhoadsRoast Coffees prides itself in roasting their beans each morning and shipping them to their customers in the afternoon, ensuring that you get the freshest brew possible. Ethiopian Queen City Harrar is roasted from traditionally washed and sun-dried beans.
The roast process leaves them slightly darker than medium roast, but still preserves the vibrant fruity and winey flavor and intense jasmine aroma. If you prefer to use your home roaster, RhoadsRoast will ship green beans to you in a 2.5-pound bag so that you can roast it to your preferences.
Taste Ethiopian Coffee!
Ethiopian coffee brands can have a variety of tastes, ranging from floral to fruity. The incredible diversity, thanks to many micro-regions each having their heirloom plants, is one of the reasons why coffee from Ethiopia so famous.
One thing that these coffee brands aren’t— is subtle. If you prefer your brew to be calm and subdued, you may find them a bit too much. Rich flavor and intense aroma aren’t everyone’s cup of tea (or should we say coffee), but those who enjoy them will hardly find better beans anywhere on the planet!