Ethiopia is the genetic homeland of Arabica coffee. Being the largest producer of coffee in the world and with about a quarter of its population involved in coffee-related activities as their livelihood, coffee is culturally ingrained into Ethiopian DNA.
Coffee first evolved naturally in the south of Ethiopia. Here thousands of varieties emerged over time. In ancient times before any recorded history, people moved coffee elsewhere in Ethiopia and to the other parts of the world. This narrowed down the varieties to a handful dozen around the world.
But there are still numerous coffee varieties in Ethiopia estimated to be two to three thousand both in the wild and cultivated by Ethiopian farmers locally. The wild varieties grow spontaneously under the canopy of trees and are neither cultivated nor maintained. These varieties are not formally recorded and are known under local names. These coffee beans are gathered by the local population in the autumn under a complex system of ancestral entitlements regulating it.
For a coffee buyer on their first trip to Ethiopia is a tantalizing experience. With many varieties like Guji coffee with a juicy blueberry aftertaste to the lemony jasmine flavoured Yirgacheffe, it is no wonder that it feels like a kid in a toy store.
Here are a few varieties of the famed Ethiopian coffee.
Named after a tribe of Oromia, Guji belongs to the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Guji coffee is famed for its distinct terroir along with classic characteristics like aromas of sweet peach and chocolate. It has a spicy, exotic, and clean taste with a very bold smooth chocolatey mouthfeel.
The strength of Sidamo coffee arises from the wide variety it offers which often results in an intense complexity of taste. It has a distinct flavour owing to the unique mixture of ‘mixed heirloom’ varieties. This essentially comes from unique local varieties grown in small parcels of land and the coffee delivered to processing sites.
Bale Mountain coffee farm mostly cultivates a mix of local varieties obtained from research centers and indigenous forest varieties that have been planted on small family plots. These varieties are often referred to as Ethiopian Heirloom, which is a mix of a local variety of Typica hybrid, and improved varieties of old strains.
Much sought after for its bright point citric acidity Yirgacheffe coffee offers a well-bodied, balanced cup of mocha combined with flowery, spicy elements, and an array of fruity flavours giving it a layered and complex wheel of taste. Yirgacheffe coffee is well known for its washed coffees but is gaining a reputation for its fruity balanced naturals, as well.
Limmu coffee is considered a premium gourmet coffee with its distinctive terroir and variety. The coffee brew has a distinguished well-balanced mouthfeel and vibrant floral overtones. Its characteristics include a balanced, sweet, slightly spices with pleasant wine-like taste.
A few Limmu coffee varieties show floral and stone fruit notes. Besides Yirgacheffe, Limmu coffee too is noted for its washed as well as dry-processed coffee of higher grades. Limmu coffee farms also follow better agronomic standards and good processing as well as a good number of washing stations.
Above are just a few of the varieties of the famed Ethiopian coffee.
Kerchanshe Trading PLC is one of the top coffee exporters of Ethiopia carefully sourcing premium varieties of coffee from nine different regions of Ethiopia – Sidamo, Guji, Yirgacheffe, Limmu, Bale, Harar, Djimma, Nekemte, Keffa.