In our new Big Country Series we start with our most important origin: ETHIOPIA. 

First a little explanation on the word 'country'. For long the coffee world used the 'origin' when meaning 'country'. On itself it is correct. But it feels a bit weird. Technically speaking we would have Single Origin, Single Region and Single Estate coffees. As having a coffee from a certain country doesn't have a lot of value i would prefer using the term 'Single Origin' for regions and 'Single Estate' if the coffee comes from one estate. 

We start off with the Kaldi story:

Kaldi was a legendary Ethiopian Sufi goatherd in Ethiopia who discovered the coffee plant around 850 AD. Kaldi, noticing that when his goats were nibbling on the bright red berries of a certain bush, they became more energetic (jumping goats), chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an monk in a nearby monastery, but the Sufi monk disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.

ETHIOPIA has been our number one country since the first day we started in 2003. On an average year 1/3rd of our coffee is sourced from the birth land of coffee. 

Home to wild arabica’s natural habitat and containing nearly all the world’s genetic diversity in coffee.

Ethiopia’s complex history of coffee cultivation and processing makes it almost impossible to offer an exact map of all regions, although this should come close.

In the beginning (around 2003) we had coffee from Harrar and Yirgacheffe only, but soon other regions as Sidamo and Limu followed. Lekempti and Djimma has never been our type of region, neither does Bale, Kaffa or Bench Maji. 

About processing

We basically see 3 different processings: Washed, Pulped Natural and Natural. 

Most farm or washing stations follow these procedures:

For the Washed: The mucilage is removed by fermentation, which lasts 36-72 hours depending on the weather conditions. The coffee is then dried on raised African beds (over 200 beds are present at the washing station) for 9-13 days. This version is the cleanest and the best to combine with milk.

For the Pulped Natural: The lot was processed from very red/ripe cherries, pulped by the typical old disc pulpers and parchment was carefully dried on plastic shadenet, not jute. The body and sweetness are much better, while keeping the typical florals.

For the Natural coffee: The beans are dried on drying beds for 21-27 days, which gives them this rich ripe fruit touch.

Grading:

In the past we gave the following gradings for Washed coffees: 1 & 2.

And for Unwashed coffees: 3, 4 & 5. 

These days i see also grade 1 Naturals/unwashed coffees popping up which makes it confusing. 

For 2018 we started very early this year with fantastic coffee. Reko, Gera Farm en Gora Kone were all high cupping coffees and suitable for both filter or espresso roast. And it is equally tasting perfect with or without milk. 

Now Jimma Nano Challa Washed and Guji Sasaba Natural are following and these aren't the last ones for this years' crop. 

95% of our Ethiopian coffee is washed. Approximately 70% of the washed is grade 1. 

For our famous Roast ED blend (easy going espresso blend) we use a more conventional Sidamo Grade 2 coffee. For all people curious about the difference between Ethiopia and an other specialty coffee from anywhere in the world; just taste blind this fresh conventional Ethiopian coffee next to double-in-price other coffee and very much possible the Ethiopian is your favorite. 

On top of that we do find the washed Ethiopian coffee very easy to blend and the beans keep a good stable clean taste all year round. 

Hail to the cradle of coffee and thanks Kaldi for discovering this holy bean. 

July 25, 2018 by Robrecht Berghmans