If you consider yourself a fully-fledged coffee lover, you will probably already be aware of the fact that Ethiopia is deemed one of the best places in the world for coffee. And it has been one of the top foreign currency generators for the country, with 60% of exports being directly related to coffee. The country exported just under 149 tons thousand of coffee and generated a record-high $578 million during the last six months ending January.
Briefing the local media outlet, the Coffee, and Tea Authority Director said the country planned to export 124 thousand tons of coffee in the last six months and achieved the highest figure which is 149 thousand tons. Currently, the country exports one thousand tons of coffee to various countries every day. The top three export destinations for Ethiopian coffee during the five months have been Germany (33 thousand tons, $110 million), Saudi Arabia (19 thousand tons, $66.31 million), and Belgium (13 thousand tons, $55 million). Japan, the USA, South Korea, Italy, China, France, and Taiwan have been the remaining top ten Ethiopian coffee importers respectively.
Though China ranked 33rd for receiving and using Ethiopian coffee the previous year, in the last six months it becomes 8th on the list. It was predicted that the global pandemic and the current war in the country might put an adverse impact on the country’s export trade. Fortunately, these obstacles have not impacted coffee trading negatively. In the current fiscal year, the authority plans to export 280 thousand tons of coffee and get around 1.1 billion USD.
What makes coffee beans from Ethiopia better than the rest?
Ethiopia is widely known to be the botanic garden of Coffee Arabica its potent Arabica brew. It is the harvest season and everyone carries a basket of woven bamboo. Ethiopian coffee has such a strong flavor, sometimes it is blended with those from other parts of the world to increase their flavor. Ethiopian Coffee is produced organically and demonstrated by different varieties and best qualities of beans. However, due to circumstances, the country lags behind in reaping up fruits from such blessings. Hence, currently, the authority mandated is trying its best to upline the country among specialty coffee reminding nations.
The main reason is the growing conditions of the country. Of course, coffee has a great history here. But without good growing conditions, great coffee cannot be created. Coffee trees have grown in the wild for Ethiopia for many centuries. The environment is incredible for producing truly delightful coffee without you needing to add anything to the drink. The southern mountainous regions and their high elevations allow for the best growing conditions, and that is why this coffee is so amazing.
Coffee is a very influential commodity and a special species the world is convinced that it has some kind of relationship with the human being and their dwells. Apart from some kind of seducing aspect and sensuous beauty, coffee has contributed a lot to the comprehensive evolution of many developing and emerging economies. This beverage has an important place in the everyday lives and livelihoods of the world population at large.
When it comes to trying coffee from different places around the world, you can really tell the differences in the flavor, so you are probably wondering what you are going to experience when trying Ethiopian coffee. The flavor characteristics that you will experience when enjoying this type of coffee are mostly floral and bright fruited. You can expect a light to medium body, with higher acidity when compared with a lot of other types of coffee. And, if you ever needed proof that coffee from Ethiopia was delicious, you only need to look at how much it is consumed in this part of the world. In fact, approximately 50 percent of the coffee that is created in Ethiopia is for domestic drinking.
The coffee plant originated in Kaffa, in fact, the name coffee comes from the word Keffa, where over 5,000 varieties of wild Arabica coffee currently thrive. Coffee experts agree Ethiopia is the only place where coffee has grown natively, worldwide. Heirloom varieties are coffee plants that grow indigenously, of which Ethiopia has a rich supply. Thanks to high altitudes, coupled with ideal amounts of rain, Ethiopia’s soil provides the perfect amount of acidity for coffee to grow.
Ethiopia utilizes a unique grading scale, with nine grades based on cup quality and visual defects. Anything receiving a grade of 1 or 2 qualifies as a specialty grade. Whereas coffee between 3 to 9 is sold as a commercial one. Each coffee-producing region of Ethiopia provides various growing conditions, with six regions contributing the majority of the country’s coffee. Four of these fantastic areas include:
- Guji: Located in Southeastern Ethiopia, Guji boasts heirloom coffee varieties known for their strong, full-flavored beans. Aside from tart acidity, coffee from this region features floral and dark chocolate tones.
- Harar: Renowned as one of the oldest producing coffee regions, Harar coffee is still sorted and processed by hand to this day. Besides featuring flavor hints of mocha, fruit, and wine, Harar coffee isn’t very acidic but rather full-bodied and well-balanced.
- Sidamo: Sitting at a level between 4,900 and 7,200 feet, Sidamo produces beans that are labeled as strictly high grown, or SHG. This specialized coffee is given more time to absorb the necessary nutrients for a broad flavor spectrum.
- Yirgacheffe: Yirgacheffe grows some of the best coffee in the world, at an elevation of 2,000 meters above sea level. Farmers utilize wet processing to enhance further the quality of resulting coffee beans exported from this region of Ethiopia.
Varieties of Processing
Quality is the most important parameter in the World coffee trade. The quality of coffee is determined by 40% in the field, 40% at post-harvest primary processing, and 20% at secondary processing. This underscores the importance of primary processing in enhancing the quality and value of coffee. The methods of coffee processing in Ethiopia are sun-drying of unpulsed cherries and wet processing, of which sun-drying is preferred by farmers. Washed coffee accounts for 29% while sun-dried accounts for 71% of all processed coffee.
Each region of Ethiopia utilizes various means of growing coffee, as well as processing and washing techniques unique to each variety and farm. Two modes of processing common in Ethiopia include wet processing and sun drying. Regardless of the chosen type of processing, beans exchange a multitude of hands throughout a labor-intensive operation.
- Wet Processing: When coffee cherries are wet-processed, they are placed into the water for sorting. This method enables farmers to remove the pulp of the cherry, thereby exposing the inner bean. Wet processing requires various steps, followed by a 12-hour soak before they spend two weeks drying on a raised bed.
- Dry Processing: High-quality beans get to enjoy a method of processing known as sun drying. Once they are sorted by hand and graded, these coffee beans dry on raised beds in the sun for several weeks. Husks will be removed prior to packing beans for sale.
There are a few constraints on coffee processing in the country, some of them are lack of coffee processing facilities, high costs of materials for constructing the raised drying beds, limited technical know-how, and long distance to the few processing facilities. Coffee processing can be improved through investment by the provision of financial resources to purchase the requisite equipment and training so that the necessary technical, financial and commercial capability would be created for the sustainable management of the coffee processing facilities.
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony Cultural
Ethiopia is known for its various contributions to the world when the rest of the globe was sleeping and under darkness. Ethiopia stood among the first in civilization and served as a source of multidisciplinary teachings the world adapted from it and be a beacon of freedom for most African countries that had been under the sea of darkness.
In Ethiopia, where social interaction has a bigger value, rituals like the coffee ceremony are used as a ‘social platform’ where people come together and exchange ideas and discuss various social, economic, and political concerns of their country. In different gatherings in the country, one of the common ceremonies for the betterment and easing things, pursuing sensuous beauty is coffee. It is one of the major cultures in Ethiopia with its own steps. Unlike other coffee consumer countries, in Ethiopia, coffee is not the only thing that people need to drink, but smelling the aroma is also important before drinking it.
In many villages, coffee ceremonies are still considered one of the most important occasions to this day. It is common for the woman of a household to participate in numerous two or three-hour coffee ceremonies throughout the day in Ethiopia. In fact, it’s viewed as one of the highest honors to be invited to a ceremony, morning, afternoon, or evening. These ceremonies may vary from region to region. However, the base format remains the same.
- Initially, raw, unwashed coffee beans are processed at the beginning of the ceremony. The use of incense plays an essential role in warding off evil spirits, with a decoration of grass and flowers spread across the floor.
- A clay coffeepot is placed over hot coals, filled with water. Green coffee beans are husked and cleaned before being evenly roasted. Once the beans reach a medium brown hue, they are coated in various oils for additional flavor.
- The woman in charge of the ceremony will continue the process by grinding the freshly roasted beans into a coarse grind through the use of a mortar and pestle.
- An invitation into an Ethiopian home is considered an incomplete invitation if it does not include coffee. Most times, an invitation is often unnecessary, and it’s common for visitors to simply stop in when the aroma of coffee hits the air.
- Neighbors and friends may rest assured that cups and coffee will not run low, in addition to a bit of popcorn that’s commonly served alongside coffee.
As far as trade is concerned, Ethiopia imports goods from different countries and exports commodities to various destinations as well. The nation is known for exporting coffee that is locally perceived as the ‘Green Gold’. And this commodity remains as a backbone of the country’s economy in foreign currency earning. On multiple occasions, Ethiopian coffee has not been promoted to the world as it has to be.
To conclude, Ethiopia’s coffee has various tests that anyone can be served the flavor the person wants. With a better trading system and technologies, Ethiopian coffee will boast the world’s trading system escalating its reputation and demand in the world. The Coffee and Tea Authority should thus, work hard to ensure the best system to support the coffee trade and get better returns from this resource that serves as a backbone to the export sector of the economy. Government and all responsible stakeholders need to work for hand in glove for better achievements, it was underscored.