Ethiopia, the East African country, is where the Arabica bean first gained global popularity, making it the cradle of coffee. Although it originated in South Sudan, it was Ethiopia where the Arabica bean thrived as an aromatic coffee bean. The first coffee exports probably began in the 17th century. Although Ethiopia is not the largest coffee producer (Brazil holds that title), it is known for its exceptional and authentic coffee. Interestingly, the name "coffee" comes from the Ethiopian province of Kaffa.
Coffee cultivation feeds over 15 million people in Ethiopia, making it an important economic factor alongside vegetables, flowers and livestock. About 60 % of the country's income comes from coffee exports. Besides its economic importance, coffee also has a special place in the daily lives of Ethiopians. In rural areas, families gather three times a day to drink coffee together. In the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, called buna, the green coffee beans are roasted over incense and brewed three times. Unfortunately, climate change is a growing threat to coffee cultivation in Ethiopia, as ideal environmental conditions are necessary for the beans to mature.
Ethiopian coffee is grown using three methods. Forest coffee is particularly well known, grown in natural forest gardens on wild trees and harvested by hand. However, smallholder farmers achieve relatively low yields. Garden coffee also grows in the wild, but is cultivated more intensively and is often found near villages. Plantation coffee is grown and harvested on a large scale.
The main coffee growing regions in Ethiopia are Yirgacheffe, Harrar and Sidamo are the main coffee growing regions in the country. Harrar is located in the mountainous east of Addis Ababa and produces amber, dry-processed beans that are popular for making mocha coffee. Yirgacheffe and Sidamo are wet-processed and have a distinctive spicy aroma.