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28 Encounters with the Best Coffees from Cup of Excellence Ethiopia 2020

In July, you can taste all finalists from COE Ethiopia 2020

After the end of Cup of Excellence Ethiopia online auction we have promissed you a surprise. And here it is – every day starting 1 July 2020, we are inviting you to taste each one of the 28 Ethiopian coffees that made it to the finals of the first СОЕ competition in the birthplace of coffee!

Come to our shop at 58, Lyuben Karavelov St. in Sofia until 28 July and relish Ethiopia’s best coffees for 2020.

They have already set several records – they have attracted a record nuber of buyers and tallied a record sum at the auction. Simply because they are the best coffees. The specialists who have already cupped them remained in awe of the variety of flavors. However how can one be surprised by this when the tradition behind their cultivation is already millenal!

We have already told many times about Ethiopia and its green gold, coffee. You can read again our detailed article on Ethiopian coffee here. DABOV-SPECIALTY-COFFEE-INTERESTING-FACTS-ABOUT-ETHIOPIA-02

Today we are sharing with you 28 interesting facts about Ethiopian coffee – as many as the finalists in the Cup of Excellence.

Ethiopia has a varied terrain and coffee is cultivated both at lowlands and at high-altitude.

28. Which are the best coffees in the world?

In 2017, the US Good Food Foundation distributed its annual prizes for foods and beverages from around the world that are sold on North American market. There were more than 2000 participants in the “coffee” category. After blind degustations, the jury selected 27 finalists. 14 of them were from Ethiopia. The rest were 2 Panama Geishas and a Kenyan coffee.

27. What are the typical coffee flavors in different Ethiopia regions?

There are eight main coffee regions in Ethiopia. Yirgacheffe is famous for flowery fragrance and lemony coffees. Spicy and with flowery fragrance are coffees in Sidamo. The region of Harrar offers Mocha flavor. In Limmu, we can find spicy and winery flavor with flower aroma. Teppi (highland) coffees come with spicy fragrance and Tepi (lowland) coffees are with hints of herbs. Also herbs we can find in Bebeka, while in Lekempty what is predominant is the mild fruity flavor.

26. Who is responsible for coffee brewing at home?

In Ethiopia, women in the family traditionally make coffee. Coffee is brewed twice a day – morning and evening. In many places, women roast coffee beans on a pan over the fire and then grind them just before pouring them into the traditional pitcher-like container.

25. How do you say “coffee” in Ethiopian?

Arabian for coffee is qahwe but official language in Ethiopia is Amharic. Buna is coffee in Amharic.

24. How many people work in coffee industry in Ethiopia?

Around 60% of foreign income in Ethiopia comes from coffee. An estimated 15 million of the population rely on some aspect of coffee production for their livelihood. The total population is 109 million.

Preparing and drinking coffee in Ethiopia is a ceremony that local people respect and therefore maintain alive.

23. Are there any trademark Arabica varieties in Ethiopia?

There are three Arabica coffee varieties that are registered trademark owned by the Ethiopian government. These are Ethiopian Harar, Ethiopian Sidamo and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

22. Why is the Heirloom variety most famous?

Ethiopia Heirloom is a catch-all term that describes the many naturally-occurring varieties in Ethiopia. The country’s climate naturally nurtures them.

21. What is one of the most important factors specialists consider when roasting coffee?

Ethiopian coffees grow at high elevations and their beans are hard and dense. Density makes beans sweeter and with more flavor precursors, which consequently translate to more flavor after roasting. That is why, roasters evaluate the density when choosing an effective roast profile.

20. What are the coffee beans sizes by regions?

In Harrar and Limmu, there are small to large beans. Small to medium is the predominant size in Sidamo. And in Yirgacheffe, Teppi, Bebeka and Lekempty medium to large beans is the norm.

19. How many Arabica varieties are there among Ethiopian coffees?

This is a million dollar question. However, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to guess the exact answer. It is estimated that there are between 6,000 and 10,000 coffee varieties in Ethiopia!

18. What is the annual production of Ethiopian coffee?

Ethiopia is Africa’s largest growing coffee region. It produces around 7.7 million sacks each year or 462,000 tonnes approximately. As a result to major modernisation of its farming methods, by 2024, they aim to produce 1.8 million tonnes.

Sometimes, green gold has to be guarded this way.

17. What is the usual size of the coffee farms?

In Ethiopia, coffee farms are small in size. In Harrar and Yirgacheffe, the average farm size is less than 1 hectare. This is why Ethiopian coffee production heavily relies on cooperatives who share processing stations.

16. Where is Ethiopia in the world in terms of coffee cultivation?

Ethiopia currently is on the sixth place in the world’s top 10 coffee producers chart. It is behind Honduras and above India. 

15. Which brewing methods work best for Ethiopian coffee?

Specialists advice that Ethiopian coffee tastes amazing when it is lightly roasted and brewed as a filter. Arguably this is the best way to try to extract all of their fruity character. Its full body and strong flavors also make for a bright and juicy espresso too.

14. How many annual harvests are there in Ethiopia

There is only one coffee harvest in all Ethiopia regions. It continues from November to Fevruary.

13. Which is the most famous Ethiopian coffee proverb?

Coffee is our bread. (Buna dabo naw.)

12. How many female coffee producers entered the Cup of Excellence Ethiopia 2020 finals?

There aren’t any female coffee producers among the 28 finalists. This is another fact that testifies to gender inequality in the coffee industry.

11. How are Ethiopian coffee producers organized?

Smallholder coffee producer groups in Ethiopia are usually organized in cooperatives. They are open to all individual farmers without discrimination on the basis of gender, social status, race, religion, etc. Cooperatives are democratic organizations. Each member has an equal voting right and all decisions are made after voting.

The higher quality part of the production of both conventional and special coffee is exported.

10. Is there anything that we don’t know about Yirgacheffe yet?

Technically Yirgacheffe is part of the Sidamo region. However, it is its coffees with exceptional qualitites that made it trademarked micro-region. The Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union operates there with about 45,000 member farmers. They are represented in the union by 28 primary cooperative members. Coffee is produced in an elevation of 1,600 to 1,800 m.a.s.l and of 2,000 to 2,400 m.a.s.l.

9. How is global warming affecting cultivation of Ethiopian coffee?

According to a 2017 report published in Nature 39–59% of the current growing area could experience climatic changes that are large enough to render them unsuitable for coffee farming. Contributing factor to this alarming forecast is the absence of significant interventions.

8. How is coffee processed in different regions?

In Harar and Djmmah coffee is sundried only. Washed coffee you can find in Yirgacheffe, Bebeka, Tepi and Limu. In regions Sidamo and Lekempti farmers process their coffee either in the natural, sundried way or with water.

The largest number are small producers, who often unite in cooperatives.

7. Is there any other part of coffee bush that can be consumed?

In Harare, locals prepare infusions of roasted and ground coffee-leaves called Kuti. People there also prepare husks with milk known as Hoja. This and they drink them with salt instead of sugar. In Kaficho and Shakiso, coffee leaves are brewed and spiced with pepper and ginger to prepare Chamo.

6. Communism and Coffee

Ethiopia is at civil war between 1974 and 1991. From 1987 till 1991, its name changes to People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia while it is part of the Communist block. During this period, large farms and cooperatives are obliged to sell their production at a low price to the government.

5. Coffee on the stock exchange

In 2008, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is founded. Today, 90% of coffee moves through it. Specialists cup and grade it there according to flavour profile and quality. Thanks to ECX more smallholder producers have access to the global market.

4. How much coffee they drink in Ethiopia?

Coffee has a very important role in the daily lives of Ethiopians. That is why domestic consumption is very high. Not surpisingly about half of the country’s annual production is consumed in Ethiopia.

n Ethiopia, the diversity in terms of varieties reaches up to 10,000 Arabica varieties, and most of them are not yet cataloged.

3. Which processing method is the most popular?

Of course, the natural sun-dried coffee is most popular. Around 70% of Ethiopian coffee dries on African beds. About 30% is washed coffee. Specialty coffee producers though have started experimenting with Anaerobic process as well. Among COE Ethiopia 2020 finalists there were 2 anaerobic coffees.

2. When have they exported coffee from Ethiopia for the first time?

Since the Middle Ages people were exporting coffee from Ethiopia – in the form of coffee beans and for seedlings.However, the first official written document is from the 19 century. Coffee export from Harar goes back earlier than 1810.

1. Can you eat coffee cherries?

You can eat not only coffee cherries, but also the beans. In some places, people mix coffee beans with other nuts or cereals and then eaten. And in others, it is usual to mix cherries with butter, pepper and other spices and offer them as a treat to guests.

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