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Coffees of the World...Ethiopia

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Coffees of the World...Ethiopia

Carrie Masek

Think of your favorite cup of coffee. Was it light and bright? Smooth and rich? Complex and bold? Maybe it was sweet even before you added sugar. However it tasted, whatever you liked best in that coffee, you can find it in the coffees of Ethiopia.

Arguably the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia produces more coffee than any other country in Africa, and more varieties of coffee than any other country in the world. Approximately 15 million of its people rely on coffee production for their livelihood, and unlike many who work to produce coffee, Ethiopians drink it as well. About half of the coffee grown in Ethiopia is enjoyed by the people who live there. Ever since a goatherd named Kaldi noticed that his goats grew frisky when they ate berries from a certain bush, the people of Ethiopia have been growing and enjoying some of the best coffee in the world.

It's probably obvious that I am a fan of Ethiopian coffee. My favorite? Ethiopia Lake Abaya, an amazing Grade 1, practically perfect, coffee from Yirgacheffe and the surrounding Sidamo region. Washed processed Ethiopia Lake Abaya is a lively coffee, with a distinctly floral aroma, smooth body and sweet, rich flavor. Roasted light (City Roast), Ethiopia Lake Abaya has everything I love in coffee PLUS the aroma and subtle floral flavor of Jasmine Tea. Take it darker – the high grown coffee can go as dark as a Northern Italian espresso roast without burning – and Lake Abaya brews into a fuller-bodied, richer and even sweeter cup.

Those who prefer coffee that's heavy, bold and complex enjoy dry processed Natural Lake Abaya, G1. Grown in the same region of Ethiopia, these practically perfect beans are processed to maximize body and sweetness. Imagine a coffee that starts with an intense aroma, flows smoothly across the tongue and fills the mouth with a complex, dried fruit and spice flavor. Some of us taste hints of sugar plum and cardamon, others raisin and molasses candy. One of our cupping team even detected a hint of black pepper. Natural Ethiopia Lake Abaya brews into a delicious and fascinatingly different cup of coffee that gets sweeter and heavier-bodied as it cools. Try a light roast to preserve floral notes, or take it dark to emphasize the full body and complex, dried fruit sweetness.

Until recently, it was impossible to find the highest quality Ethiopian coffees outside the country itself. No longer. We've found an importer, originally from Ethiopia, who does a stellar job of working with farmers to improve not only the quality of the coffee beans they produce but the quality of their lives as well. Last year's Ethiopia Lake Abayas, washed and natural, were wonderful. This year's new crop has just arrived and is even better. Superior beans, superior processing and superior flavor, no wonder we love the coffees of Ethiopia!