Travelling through Ethiopia you realize how difficult it is to track and trace the grading of coffee as it works through the system. For example, because coffee is mostly grown in garden-like farms, it can be very loose and random as to who is doing what. It can be hard to discover which coffees are from which farms. As with all coffee origins, it is vital to have relationships with the right people on the ground in order to secure the best coffees.
Ethiopia is often considered the birthplace of coffee. It is thought that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia as long ago as the ninth century and still today coffee is central to it’s culture. One common Ethiopian saying is "Buna dabo naw". This literally means, "coffee is our bread". I lean toward purchasing Ethiopian coffees that are of the Ethiopian Heirloom, grown in rich reddish soil and finished in the sun-dried natural milling process. Coffee from Ethiopia is known for its bright fruit-like flavors.
I first visited Ethiopian coffee farms in 2013 and loved the juxtaposition of 21stcentury state-of-the-art technology meeting the 14th century of old. For example, you’ll see kids carrying on the centuries old tradition of herding goats, yet doing it across a modern day engineered light rail system. Elements of Ethiopia can seem medieval, yet then the influence of technology appears. A hard country to get your arms around but plenty of trial and discovery has served us well.