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SINGLE ORIGIN COFFEE -
Ethiopian coffee -
From our roaster…. “It is my considered opinion, after cupping and tasting coffee from around the world for many years that, if I had to choose coffee from only one country of origin, it would undoubtedly be coffee from Ethiopia,”
Caffea Arabica as we know it, originated in Ethiopia. Sadly, only 3% or so of the worlds coffee still comes from Ethiopia, this said, coffee is nevertheless still responsible for an economically critical 60% of the nations foreign income. Legend has it that, some 600 years ago, a goatherd noticed his flock behaving in a strange manner… this was blamed on the fruit from a coffee tree. Coffee has also been used to invigorate warriors in times of war and was considered a drug in many parts of the world…I mean, at one stage the fairer sex were not allowed into European coffee halls which were the exclusive domain of men! Who knows whether this is urban legend or not -
Coffee from the regions of Harar, Sidamo (Sidamu; Sidama) Limu and Yirgacheffe are all internationally acclaimed. As a coffee lover, if you haven’t tried a good quality single origin from Ethiopia, it’s surely time!
Most commercial blends available to South African consumers on a supermarket shelf will be made up of Brazils and other South and Latin American coffees. A dedicated roaster who is proud of his product will certainly add and African coffee here and there, but as a general rule, the delicate Ethiopians are firstly too expensive to include in a blend and more importantly, would get lost and be wasted when asked to arm-
The term “Ethiopia” when it comes to coffee does need to get expanded a little -
But folks…our roaster waxes lyrical…”this is what coffee is supposed to taste like. Just because a coffee drinker is more accustomed to an over-
Another interesting note about the Ethiopians is that one can really taste a difference between the coffee of each region. In stock at the moment we have speciality grade Yirgacheffe; Sidamu and Harrar…spoil your self and enjoy the experience!
Nonetheless, once this fundamental aromatic repertoire is understood and accepted, one notices striking variations, variations that we have tried to highlight in our reviews. Sometimes the floral character dominates, sometimes the lemony citrus, sometimes the dry chocolate, nut and fir. Citrusy profiles are typically more brightly acidy than profiles in which the flowers or the cocoa/nut dominate; floral profiles are generally sweeter and arguably more balanced. The citrus can be ripe and orangy, richly lemony, or sometimes bittersweet, similar to the bergamot used to flavor Earl Grey tea. The flowers can be lush and jasmine-
Taken together, all of this sounds like an entire aromatic universe, which it is. But, again, it is a universe somewhat apart from other sensory universes of coffee. Its features are shared by many fine coffees of the Arabica species, but it is only expressed in its fullest intensity and range in the best wet-
Regions, Names and Distinction
Yirgacheffe, a relatively compact growing region, lush and Edenic, produces by far the most consistently distinctive exemplars of the southern Ethiopia wet-
By comparison, coffee entering the market as Sidamo or Sidama tends to express the intensity and uniqueness of the classic southern Ethiopia wet-
Of course roast has an impact on how the Ethiopia wet-
Such a tight clustering of roast color among coffees at the top of the ratings is unusual. On our instrument (Agtron instruments may differ in the detail of their readings) 50 reflects a classic medium roast. Samples we tested for these reviews that were only a few points lighter or a few points darker on our instrument did not impress as much as the samples that hit this unusually tight target.
I can safely say that with other origins that we review on a regular basis the apparent optimum roast level is not nearly so tightly expressed. The optimum roast level for Sumatras often appears to be darker than a classic medium roast, for example, yet we have awarded several fine Sumatras high ratings at very light roasts. Most Latin American origins also seem to show well at a considerably wider range of roast color. One cupping does not a generalization make, but such consistency does invite attention.
A Good Fit for Organic and Fair Trade
A word on socio-
This context explains why so many certified organic coffees appear in this month’s reviews, and why many are certified Fair Trade as well. Minimal use of chemicals facilitates a transition to certifiable organic practices, and the prevalence of cooperatives encourages Fair Trade certification, a certification that is explicitly designed for democratically run cooperatives.
The Ethiopian coffee industry is certainly not without its problems. The main one from a roaster/consumer perspective is getting these great coffees out of Ethiopia in a timely way before they fade or turn musty. But the roasters and their exporter/importer partners appear to have achieved that with the twelve coffees reviewed here, which together give a fine and varied account of this striking coffee type.
Buy specialiy grade Ethiopian coffee Roasters reserve -
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