Ethiopia has always been our most important country, although not the easiest to visit for business.
My first ever trip to origin in 2008 was Ethiopia. Still remembering the first footsteps on that Sidamo coffee soil.... the whole field trip through the South, combined with some tourism in the North and coffee talks in Addis Abeba felt like the ultimate coffee crusade to me.
Here a photo of the younger me with the godfather of Ethiopian coffee Abdullah Bagersh
Last March Jeff and i decided to give it a go and traveled to the birth place of coffee Ethiopia!
Flying in Africa can be exhausting or even dangerous by times, although Ethiopian airlines is in general a very trustworthy company. Most remarkable is that a short flight from Nairobi to Addis Abeba, or the other way around, is still a full service flight on a big plane. The air hostess girls are racing through the airplanes to get it all done and dusted on time in full, and they do!
All staff already weaponed with mouth masks. The corona outbreak didn't reach Africa by that time, but rumours around the spread was going fast and some travelers were presumably already infected. One or two weeks later then March 4th and we could have been stuck already. And Africa not being an easy spot to come back from.... but would have and could have; we planned it just right i think.
Addis Abeba is a crazy city. It's loud, over crowded, busy, stinky and not easy to get around. First thing of importance is to find a well located hotel in the center, and then the magic starts. As there are street names, but no house numbers in Addis, it's not easy to find your way. Normally my pocket wifi would help me out, but Ethiopia was strange enough one of the only countries that wasn't covered by it.
Finally we managed to find the right spots, restaurants and most important of all, the coffee exporters we were looking for.
First landing was Addis Exporter.
Mike Mamo, son of a legendary coffee exporter, and owner of Addis Exporter was welcoming us in his office and started to explain how the coffee sourcing and exporting worked and how more difficult it became with the newly announced rules on floor prices. All a bit too technical for me, so when the cupping assistent told us the first table of samples was ready, we were happy as a puppy to attack the bowls of new crop Ethiopia. Such type of cupping is every year something to look forward to and doing it at origin makes it all twice as special.
Two tables of 20 coffees, mixed naturals and washed lots. Great quality samples of a fine new crop and extra special when a couple of farmers who just this day decided to bring Mike's company a visit. Some of their coffees where also on the table, so cupping closer to the core is almost impossible.
Finally we bought 1 washed lot and 1 natural lot. High specialty stuff for sure!! Expect these on your grinder early Summer!
The evenings is for fun and tourism. The first night we went to the all famous Greek Club.
The second night we started off at the one of the oldest coffee houses in the world Tomoca Coffee. (don't expect to much quality wise though)
Then we were buying cool African Jazz vinyl and tribal stuff from a local brocante fellow. To round off the night with a great ride along the Piazza, and food, drinks and an Ethio-Jazz live band at the African Jazz Village, Ghion hotel.
Second day in Addis was reserved for our friends a Sucafina. Matt is a top class Ethiopian coffee expert running the Sucafina office in Addis along Adane Gudina and his team.
Together with Tom from Sweet Maria's we had around 50 coffees to slurp. Tom is not only a long time coffee friend, he's also an Ethiopian coffee expert and most probably one of the finest cuppers around the globe.
This year's crop is great but not sure which of the lots and what volume will finally land in our lap.
Our flight was around midnight, but we don't want to miss out on coffee friends and around 6 PM we thought it was time to visit Abdullah Bagersh, 12 years after that first origin trip, again.
Needless to say it was a warm encounter and in his new cupping lab we were blown away by the latest processing experiments he's on.
Also fantastic Mr LGB material on the table, so surely soon new stuff from the coffee grandmaster in your coffee cup as well.
The evening wouldn't be complete without some great Yemenese food and a goodbuy to Abdullah and one of the most crazy cities in the world.
Our love for Ethiopian coffee is endless and we are trying to offer some of it all year round. In the current green Mister LGB bags, and the next one coming, we have this splendid organic coffee from Yirgacheffe. From time to time this coffee is roasted as spro or filter of the week as well, and it is our last lot from the 2019 crop before the first good beans off the new crop land at the harbour, relatively early this year, so stay ready!