Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee and it's a solid favorite when you ask for people's favorite origin. The genetic diversity of Ethiopian coffee is huge and this variety brings with it amazing flavors. With the recent changes to the ECX (the Ethiopian Coffee Exchange) we are better able to trace each lot which is a huge win for speciality coffee. With this increased transparency Ethiopian coffee is only going to get better.
The Origin of Coffee
The coffea arabica plant is native to southwestern Ethiopia's highlands, and coffee cultivation has been a part of local peoples' traditions for centuries. The apocryphal story of coffee's discovery details an Ethiopian goatherder that, after noticing the energizing effect of the plant's cherries on his flock, brewed the first cup of coffee. Several popular versions of this story exist and none can be verified, but the significance of coffee in the region is undisputable. The coffee ceremony is a time-honored ritual in Ethiopian households, and almost half of Ethiopian coffee is produced for domestic consumption.
Ethiopian Coffee Regions
Coffee is a very popular crop in Ethiopia that is grown in much of the country, but a few specific growing areas have become known for the unique flavors and high overall quality of their coffee. These areas include Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Guji - which are all located in south-central Ethiopia's highlands. The key factors in the quality of coffees from these regions can be attributed to the high altitude and rich soils of the regions that are perfect for coffee plants to thrive. Producers in the area have also spent generations growing and processing specialty coffee, leading to a community of farmers passionate about quality at every stage of production.
What is Ethiopian Heirloom?
When enjoying Ethiopian coffee, you'll often come across beans with the varietal listed as "Ethiopian Heirloom." Since Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, there are thousands of different naturally occuring mutations and variations of the coffea arabica plant. "Ethiopian Heirloom" is a catch-all term signifying that your beans are a mix of these local varietals. This genetic diveristy of plants gives Ethiopian coffee a wide range of flavors, making for an exciting adventure in each cup!