March 31, 2019

Ethiopia and coffee – a journey to the beginning

Ethiopian coffees have always been part of DABOV Specialty Coffee’s catalog not only because they belong to the oldest tradition of growing coffee but also because they have a unique, complex flavor that has been winning your heart year after year. Exactly like the coffee of the month of April, Ethiopia Kambata.

This year again during harvest our coffee hunter Jordan Dabov visited Ethiopia – the country that we have to thank for the accidental or non-so-accidental discovery of our favorite drink, in search for new exclusive flavors that we can offer you. While we are waiting for them, try our Ethiopia Kambata and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe.

Where did Jordan Dabov stop by during his previous trip to Ethiopia

During his previous trip to Ethiopia, in February 2019, our coffee hunter visited Heleana Georgalis, the owner of Moplaco. Working with her is a real pleasure since we both coffee from her for the first time in 2015. Moplaco stands for Mocca plantation Company, as Harrar coffee is known for the distinguished Mocca flavour, and at that time the company owed 1000 ha of land in the heart of Harrar. In Addis Abeba, Moplaco operates in a facility of more than 4,000 square meters, two separate stores, each process either washed coffee or sundried coffee. Modern machines, two electronic sorters, and an obsession allow the company to process up to twenty metric tons a day. All finishing touches are done by women carefully handpicking the coffee, to ensure optimum quality.

Jordan Dabov in Moplaco’s headquaters to taste the coffee from the new harvest.

Jordan Dabov visited Moplaco, in December, 2018, to see how the harvest gathering progressed and how the new coffee was processed. This is how our plan what to by next year starts to form usually. In December, Jordan was invited for a cupping session at Moplaco’s headquarters this week, to taste the new coffees, and here is the good news – he has come back home with some of the greatest coffees he tried there.

During his visit to Ethiopia last year, Jordan Dabov also visited the METAD farm, where he went through the coffee plantations, met the farmers, observed closely the work process and engaged in it in order to learn as much as possible. In February 2019, he went back to METAD for a cupping session of the fruits of their hard work – a selection of their latest harvest with some of the tastiest coffees they have in 2018/2019. METAD grows their own specialty coffee but they also buy from farms close to theirs in Oromia district in Hambela.

Jordan Dabov also visited the METAD farm in order to learn as much as possible from the work process.

From the farms to the biggest specialty coffee expo in Africa

After his visit to these two farms in February, our founder participated in Africa’s biggest specialty coffee event – the 17th African Fine Coffee Conference & Exhibition in Kigali, Rwanda.  It brought over 2,000 regional and international coffee roasters, traders, producers, professionals and connoisseurs under one roof. The 8th Africa Barista Championship took place there as well as the special Women in Coffee Industry Breakfast with the participation of Blanca Castro from International Women Coffee Alliance about whom we have already told you about. 9 of the best Ethiopian coffee producers and 3 Business Support Organizations also participated in it.

It is there where Jordan Dabov selected two great Rwandan coffees that we will tell you more about soon!

Ethiopia has been growing great coffee for thousands of years

There is hardly even a little coffee-savvy person who does not know that the birthplace of our favorite drink is Ethiopia. The passionate connoisseurs perhaps know that the African country enjoys the biggest number of Arabica varieties – some are very exotic, and they are among the best in the premium class. At present, Ethiopia’s goal is to solidify their status as a country of coffee origins, thanks to the fact that millions of producers and their farms have dedicated themselves to sustainable coffee production. The origin of their production can be easily traced and classified.

Ethiopia is the fifth largest coffee producing country in the world and Africa’s first largest producer of Arabica specialty coffee. Half of the country’s coffee production goes to domestic consumption – about 3.5 million sacks. The combination of a variety of different natural resources and millennial coffee growing helps this filled with coffee mysteries country to produce unique flavors that meet the high standards for specialty coffee.

In Ethiopia coffee has been grown for thousands of years because the country has the ideal conditions for it.

Back to coffee roots

The legend has it that the Ethiopian goatherd Kaldy accidentally discovered coffee around 850 AD when he saw his goats dash with vigorous jogs after eating the fruit of several coffee trees. He took some fruits home and shared his observation with a monk. Afraid that it was a devil’s act, the monk threw them into the fire, they burnt, and a strong and enchanting scent of roasted beans came out. But the first coffee was actually brewed only 50 years later. The word “coffee” is likely to come from the Kaffa region, where the beans of the fruit have been found for the first time.

In Ethiopia, coffee has been grown for thousands of years – because the country has the ideal conditions for it. To the south there are heights with lush vegetation and deep, fertile soils where coffee trees grow under the natural shade of other, free-growing tree species. Ethiopian farmers have benefited from this because, in many other places around the world, in order to grow coffee, other trees have to be planted to make a shadow.

Do you know the coffee flavor of Ethiopia’s most famous regions?

Ethiopia’s coffee usually has a prevailing fruity and flowery flavor. Acidity is higher but balanced, and the body is medium to full.

The famous small town of Yirgacheffe lies in the southernmost province of Sidamo – there some of the world’s finest coffees are grown. We, of course, offer you one of them – Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. Many manufacturers use wet processing to get fresh, high-acidity coffee, with a light body and sweet fruity and flowery hints in the flavor.

Another famous coffee region is Guji. It is located in the south of Sidamo and in the coffee cup we can find sweet flowery notes of jasmine and also melon and peach, and a tea-like body.

Harar, in eastern Ethiopia, offers naturally processed coffee with a fruity character, syrupy flavor and wine acidity.

Try our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

Where do the green coffee bags from Ethiopia come from?

There is a tiny number of farms that grow coffee in Ethiopia. In all regions, processing stations work on the same principle. Coffee from the farms own plantations is processed through a dry process and dried on African beds. The rest of the production arrives from small farmers who grow garden coffee and is wet processed to ensure a cleaner taste in the cup.

More than 50% of the coffee is garden coffee. About 25% is semi-forest. Between 15 and 20% is wild coffee. The remaining 10% come from farms with their own plantations.

What is garden coffee?

Garden coffee leads in percentage of all produced coffee in the country. Anyone who grows any amount of coffee in their garden can sell it to a processing station. Most stations can supply themselves from several local markets and coffee-producing places where people transport their production. In some cases, the farm owner buys directly from the local market in the village or neighborhood, negotiating the deal with the oldest member of the family. Farms focusing on specialty coffee require producers to be more careful during harvest and pick only the ripe coffee cherries. Some are trying to cheat by pouring on the bottom of the bag green or overripe cherry, and the ripe ones remain only on top. However, there is a trend for more careful work. This way people get better pay for their production, and this motivates them for the next harvest. A large number of farms have held various seminars and trainings to further develop growing coffee skills and coffee expertise for small producers so that they have a consistently better harvest.

Jordan Dabov always tries the new harvest of the coffees he selects for you – from the tree to the cup.

Do you know that…

If you are invited to a coffee ceremony in Ethiopia, you must know that this is a sign of friendship and respect. This is the most important social contact for the Ethiopians. Maybe that’s why the ceremony can be held 2-3 times a day and lasts longer than 2 hours. How does it work? The coffee beans are put on a pan over the fire to roast. Then they are ground and brewed on a slow fire in an original pot. The coffee is taken with a lot of sugar but never with milk and it is not filtered or strained when it is poured. In the same pot, without changing the coffee, water can be added twice. As guests sip their coffee, they chat with the hosts about family affairs, politics, public affairs or coffee, as was did our coffee hunter Jordan Dabov.

Follow Jordan’s journey to Ethiopia in 2018.
Article written by napravimisait

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