Whilst several nations lay claim to ownership over coffee’s origin, most notably Sudan and Yeme, it is widely accepted that Ethiopia is the natural birthplace of coffee. Generally speaking, it is the town of Kaffa, from which coffee derives its name that is attributed with the discovery of coffee and it still grows wild in the area’s mountain forests. Research suggests that coffee was originally consumed as a foodstuff, ground raw and blended with animal fats, before the advent of roasting the beans over the fire in skillets and brewing with water.
Ethiopia is the largest coffee producer in Africa and in the Arabica league is third in the world, with a production of between 4 and 5 million bags. Ethiopia produces a wide range of coffee, with each region’s production having very distinctive characteristics, making some of these the best and most sought after in the world. Ethiopia benefits from optimum growing conditions found throughout the country, with altitudes ranging from 1200 to 2750 masl, yearly rainfall of around 2000mm and temperatures fluctuating between 15 and 25C. The mountain ranges found in Ethiopia maintain tropical cloud forests, whilst there are also sub-tropical areas and a cool zone. The diversity of the country’s climate and varied elevation leads to coffees from different regions holding their own unique characteristics. Amongst these, the key producing regions include Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Limu, Djimmah, Lekempti and Bebeka.