Ethiopia: The Legend of Coffee

History of Ethiopian Coffee

Ethiopia is the birthplace of Arabica coffee, and it is unlike any other place in the coffee world. Coffee was never introduced to Ethiopia; it is a way of life. Growing, processing, and drinking coffee in Ethiopia is woven into the culture and everyday life, and has been for centuries. The trees were first discovered growing wild in forests and eventually produced for home and commercial use.

The diversity in the genetics of Ethiopian coffee is unrivaled across the globe, a utopia for anyone who loves coffee. About half of Ethiopia’s coffee production is consumed domestically. Coffee is about community and has strong traditional roots in family life.

You may be familiar with some of the below regions that coffee comes from in Ethiopia.

Growing Regions of Ethiopia:

  • Bale
  • Bebeka
  • Djima / Limu
  • Guji
  • Harrar
  • Kaffa
  • Lekempti
  • Sidamo
  • Tepi
  • Yirgacheffe

Taste of the Terrain

Ethiopia is a land created by volcanic activity. The terrain of Ethiopia includes a massive highland complex of mountains and plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley.

The Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia is a place on Earth where humans live with volcanoes and exploit their resources.

This is a perfect landscape for growing specialty coffee at elevation. The cooler temperatures at higher altitudes slow the growth cycle of coffee. This allows more complex flavors to develop, and with volcanic soil, produces better coffee. For more info on how these conditions affect your coffee’s flavor, visit our Farming Practices Page.

The Talent on the Farm

Coffee farms and estates are present in Ethiopia, however, the average producer owns 2.5 acres. Rather than a traditional farm setting, coffee is grown in a collective forest-type environment. Most coffee produced in this way is consumed domestically.

Small farmers bring their coffee cherries to market or to the nearest washing station. If they are part of a co-op, they can deliver their harvest to a co-op washing station. Over 50% of coffees in Ethiopia use the washed processing method. For more info on processing methods, visit our Coffee Processing Methods page.

The profiles of Ethiopian coffees are influenced by several factors including variety, process, and micro-region. These profiles contain a staggering variety of flavors. Centuries of tradition growing coffee give Ethiopia a unique flavor unlike anywhere else on earth.