Coffee atlas: Ethiopia

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population: 102 million

Area: 1.1 million square km

Seen as the birthplace of domesticated coffee, there not many more exciting times at the Sample Roastery as when our fresh Ethiopian lots arrive. There’s a lot to love about Ethiopian coffee

Ethiopia is one of the few coffee producing countries with it’s own, highly developed, coffee culture. This is linked to the fact that coffee has its origins in the areas within and surrounding Ethiopia. Up to 50% of coffee produced in Ethiopia is consumed within the country itself. The importance of coffee for Ethiopia is further highlighted by the fact it constitutes a half of the countries GDP and is responsible for up to a quarter of Ethiopia’s employment.

Due to the countries history and political structure, with restrictions on land ownership and hired labour, much of the harvesting of coffee in Ethiopia tends to be from the wild rather than on large-scale farms.

Up until 2017 all coffee for export and sale in Ethiopia had to run through a central commodities exchange, the ECX (Ethiopian Coffee Exchange), this was a utilitarian style system that had broad benefits for all producers though limited transparency and the ability of individual producers to produce exceptional quality and market it independently.

From March 2017, with new laws in place, it is now easier to operate outside of the ECX and deal more directly with cooperatives and producers.

From Cafe Imports; “In March 2017, the ECX voted to allow direct sales of coffee from individual washing stations, which will not only allow for increased traceability, but will also allow for repeat purchases and relationship building all along the chain—a change that increases the potential for higher prices to the farmers. It remains to be seen what the impact of greater traceability and more direct sales will have on specialty coffees from Ethiopia, but the industry appears optimistic.”

Shop current coffees from Ethiopia


Coffee regions in Ethiopia

Harrar

One of the oldest producing regions producing some of the most unique flavour profiles. A region that has produced coffees that really opened the eyes of many coffee roasters, us included, to the potential and true complexity that coffee can offer

Common varietals: Heirloom

Typical altitude: 1500–2100 m above sea level


Jimma

Region in the southwest that traditionally only produced commodity grade coffee. With increased exposure and education the truly great potential of this area is beginning to be realised. Can also be referred to as ‘Jimmah’, ‘Jimma’, and ‘Djimmah’

Common varietals: Heirloom

Typical altitude: 1400–2000 m above sea level


Limu

Common varietals: Heirloom

Typical altitude: 1400–2200 m above sea level


Sidamo

Both ‘Sidamo’ and ‘Sidama’ can be used to describe coffees from this region, Sidama refers to the natives of the area. It grows some of the highest coffees in Ethiopia

Common varietals: Heirloom

Typical altitude: 1400–2200 m above sea level


Yirgacheffe

Unique for its floral and highly aromatic coffees. Some our of very favourite and memorable Ethiopian coffees have emerged from this legendary region.

Common varietals: Heirloom

Typical altitude: 1750–2200 m above sea level


Previous coffees from Ethiopia: