The Origin of Ethiopia

The Origin of Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a particularly long history in coffee. Although it is likely that Coffea Arabica first appeared in Southern Sudan, Ethiopia is still regarded by many as the birthplace of coffee where Arabica was able to flourish. Accompanied by a favourable climate and fertile soils, Ethiopian coffee is prized for its uniquely floral and fruity profiles in the cup.

Even with so much history and impact in the story of coffee so far, Ethiopia remains somewhat of a mystery for most people in the coffee industry, with the constantly evolving geopolitical structure and moving boarders still changing the way we source and buy coffee in Ethiopia. Recent developments have seen Guji recognised as a coffee origin and Sidama was reinstated as an official geopolitical region. Due to the unique flavour characteristics in Guji, the region is recognised separately to the wider growing area of Sidamo. 

Unlike coffee producers in Central and South American regions, a vast amount of Ethiopian coffee is regarded as wild, or forest grown coffee. These plants are only semi controlled and usually grow in the south of the country, with a mix of natural shade and an array of differing varietals. These plants are relatively low yielding in comparison to purposeful plantations but do contribute to the mystique behind Ethiopian coffee.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) was initially established to help provide an efficient trading system for commodities exported from Ethiopia, that would protect the buyer and seller. The ECX has defined province names to help classify coffee from Ethiopia. These are based on shared cup characteristics, while also grouping some small growing areas under a wider region name. The most common areas include Yirgacheffe, Sidama, Limu, Tepi and Bebeka. All of these province’s consist of many sub regions that have independent notoriety, like Kochere and Worka, located in Yirgacheffe.

This system has caused headaches for those wanting to source direct and distinct coffee, but has had the positive impacts of ensuring farmers receive the funds in exchange for their coffee more efficiently. Another impact that is noticeable from the ECX on Ethiopian coffee, is the grading system of issuing a number ranging from 1 – 10 depending on the characteristics of a coffee. Coffee spouting a GR1 is often regarded as the premium or best quality. These lots will likely be accompanied by a high price, while lots down the other end of the scale, are more commonly used for internal purposes and are regarded as cheap and of low quality. 

With an estimation of over 7 million bags of coffee forecasted for production in 2021-2022, 50-55% of this Ethiopian production is consumed domestically. Here at LCM, we have an array of high quality Ethiopian coffees on spot and arriving in to satisfy the want and need for unique and fruity coffees.