Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee - and they know how to grow those beans! Our coffee comes from the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, made up of 34 member coops spread throughout the central plateau of Yirgacheffe and Sidamo.
We worked with Oromia to bring the first ever Fair Trade, Organic Ethiopian into the U.S. When I brought back roasted and packaged "Oromia Blend" to the farmers, they went wild! This was the first time they had seen their coffee as it is presented in the West. Also, the package had their photo on it (with their permission, of course)! They were very proud (and let me sleep in the former Emperor's bed!).
The beans are picked from wild-looking trees hidden in lush forest. They have the unique fruitiness and slightly earthy tones associated with fine Ethiopian coffees.
There are several amazing growing regions in Ethiopia. In the northeast of the country is Harar, a very arid region in a very arid country. The coffee grows in the hills surrounding the ancient walled city of Harar, where medieval trade routes from the south and north met. Many farmers in Harar dry their coffee inside the cherry, rather than stripping the cherry fruit off first (largely for lack of water to process). This is called the "sun-dried" method. This type of processing tends to result in a fruitier cup. Hara is known as one of the milder, softer Ethiopians.
In the south lay the regions of Yirgacheffe and Sidamo. This is where coffee was originally found by the goatherd Kaldi, who watched his goats prance crazily after eating red berries off of a bush. Yirgacheffe is one of the most prized coffees in the world, noted for its citrus and lemony tones, as well as its floral aroma. This Yirgacheffe and Sidamo regions intertwine around various mountain passes, and the coffees are often indistinguishable. Sidamos tend to be a little milder or smoother than Yirgacheffes. Other, less popular coffees from Ethiopia include Limu, Jimma, Bebeka and Lekempte.