Do you know where the word ‘coffee’ comes from? It is from ‘Kaffa’, a coffee growing region in Ethiopia. This makes Ethiopia the birth place of coffee. It is the home land of “Arabica coffee” that grows wild in the forests of Kaffa, Illubabor and Gamogofa. Coffee drinking is an important social and cultural tradition in Ethiopia, and is practiced with ritualized and elaborate ceremonies. But it was not always so. Hundred years ago, most Ethiopians had never drunk coffee. Along with tobacco, the brew was considered evil by the Christian Orthodox church, and church members were banned from drinking it on pain of ex-communication.
Ethiopia engages in an elaborate coffee ‘’ceremony’’ at important occasions. Ethiopia is the oldest exporter of coffee in the world. Domestic consumption was estimated 100,000 tons annually. Ethiopia is a nation of true coffee drinkers who produces some of the world’s finest original coffees such as Yirgacheffe, Limu and Harar. More than 4,500 different Ethiopian coffee species are preserved in a coffee field Gene Bank in the Kaffa region which is a good indication of the rich diversity of the Ethiopian coffee population. Just briefly, that our landscape resources are giving birth and offering different but unique flavored coffees. We are the unique and the proud possessor of distinct coffee flavors who have wider choices to offer consumers worldwide.
In the southwest highlands of Ethiopia, the forest coffee ecosystems of Kaffa, Sheka, Gera, Limu and Yayu are regarded as home of Arabica coffee. These forest ecosystems also housed variety of medicinal plants, wild animals and endemic species. Coffee is cultivated in the forest as member of the shrub community in harmony with wild animals. Yet flavor appellations are not so well known, but are nonetheless worthy.
The western highlands of Ethiopia are reservoir of new coffee varieties, which are resistances to coffee berry disease or leaf rust. We are already gifted with two worldwide known coffee types, Limu and Jimma. Other flavors and aromas known by our domestic consumers are coming soon to coffee consumers all over the world.