Ethiopian Coffee History

Ethiopian Coffee origin and culture.
May 16, 2023 by
Ethiopian Coffee History
Solai Coffee LLC, Peter Kuria
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Ethiopia Coffee

Ethiopia is reviewed as the cradle home of the coffee plant and Ethiopian coffee culture. Around 12 million persons in Ethiopia are engaged in coffee farming and production, making it a major part of Ethiopian culture.
Ethiopia is responsible for supplying about 3% of the global coffee market. Coffee is crucial to the economy of Ethiopia, as about 60% of income is from Coffee. In 2006, the exportation of Coffee acquired $350 million, which matches 34% of the total exports made that year.

Pouring fresh coffee from a Buna Pot for the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Ethiopian Coffee Fun Facts

  • The “Coffee Ceremony” is significant to Ethiopia’s culture and hospitality.
  • Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia.
  • Ethiopia is the 5th largest coffee exporter in the world
    Coffee is said to hail from the Kaffa-region. Hence, the name.
  • About one-quarter of the country’s population depends directly or indirectly on Coffee.

History of Coffee in Ethiopia

The discovery of Coffee in Ethiopia is thought to be in the 9th century. Many specialists have declared Ethiopia a region where Coffee bloomed natively, and Kaldi’s fictitious narrative is repeated repeatedly. Kaldi, a goat herder from Keffa, uncovered the coffee plant after noticing the Coffee’s energizing results on his goats. Since this discovery, the production of Coffee has become a big part of Ethiopians’ everyday life.

Ethiopian Coffee Production

Ethiopia is ranked the world’s 7th largest coffee producer and the top producer in Africa. Ethiopians consume half of the Coffee produced there. The main markets for Coffee produced in Ethiopia are the EU(around half the exports), Asia(around a quarter), and North America. Almost all the work, cultivation, and drying are achieved by hand.

The revenues from exporting Ethiopian Coffee make up 10% of the government revenue annually. Thus, there are attempts by the government to minimize the coffee industry’s part of the GDP by improving the manufacturing department.

Green bean specialty coffee being weighed and packed for export.

Fresh coffee beans sourced from Ethiopia


Coffee in Ethiopia is mainly grown in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. Especially because Coffee is a climate-sensitive plant, these areas experience a tropical climate ideal for Coffee to thrive.

The quality of Ethiopian Coffee

The Ethiopian government takes the quality of Coffee production very seriously because exporting poor-quality Coffee affects its reputation. Therefore, specific standards and certifications are established on coffee farms exporting coffee beans. Get more insight on quality and Ethiopian coffee profiles at the pack tester blog.

Ethiopian Coffee Processing Methods

The most common coffee processing methods in Ethiopia are washed and natural processing. The difference is that the cherry is extracted from the bean before or after sun drying. 

In natural processing, farmers spread coffee cherries on a leveled surface and then dry the cherries in the sun. This process takes around 2-6 weeks. The seeds are then extracted from the cherry after drying.

Coffee cherries are soaked in a big water bag and left to ferment in washed processing. Therefore, the cherry softens easily removed from the bean. After this, they are left in the bath for about 12 hours to complete the fermentation process. The beans are then dried in the sun.

100% of coffee is produced in the South-East region of Ethiopia.

Coffee growing regions in Ethiopia.

Regional Coffee Varieties

Ethiopia accommodates various coffee types, including wild ones waiting to be documented. Arabica is the most-grown coffee type in Ethiopia. Below are varieties of Coffee grown in Ethiopia:

  • Sidamo
    Sidamo is a trademarked coffee area. It is documented that about 60% of Coffee from here is washed and processed. Coffees from Sidamo are recognized for their full-body, rich, vibrant, crisp acidity and floral and citrus notes.
  • Harrar
    It’s a wild arabica found in the Oromia region. Typically, this Coffee is processed naturally. It is recognized for its extreme fruity acidity and flavor. Harrar Coffee is reported as rich and intense with strong hints of blackberry or blueberry. This Coffee is also heavy-bodied, and its vigor means it’s mostly used in espresso blends.
  • Limu
    Limu Coffee grows in the southwest region of Ethiopia. It is a washed coffee with low acidity consisting of a well-balanced body and a sharp, spicy flavor that is sweet.
  • Jimma
    The region is a big producer of commercial-grade Coffee. Coffees from this region are great when washed; if it is naturally processed, it takes on a medicinal flavor.
  • Yirgacheffe
    This region is known for producing exceptional coffees. Most coffees from here are washed and processed, and some are naturally processed. The general Yirgacheffe Coffee is a medium-bodied coffee with an intense floral aroma, exhilarating acidity, and an extended aftertaste.
  • Genika
    It is an Arabica coffee grown in the Bench Maji Zone in Ethiopia. Genika coffee has a tiny, greyish bean and a spicy, chocolate-like taste and aroma.
Freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee in different roast types.

Roasted three types of Ethiopian coffee beans.

Coffee Beans

Ethiopian coffee beans can be divided into three groups: Short berries, long berries, and Mocha. Long-berry varieties comprise the largest beans and are regarded to be of the highest quality in flavor and value. Short-berry varieties are regarded as top-grade beans in Eastern Ethiopia. Mocha varieties are immensely prized products.

To wrap up, Ethiopia, the leading coffee producer in Africa, has had strict regulations to control the coffee industry. In reality, Coffee growing in Ethiopia is but culture, and Solai Coffee is here to explore that culture with you.

Enjoy Ethiopian Coffee from our store.

Ethiopian Coffee History
Solai Coffee LLC, Peter Kuria May 16, 2023
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