I've always enjoyed trying coffee and learning about coffee culture from all around the world. Recently, I've been fascinated with Ethiopian coffee.

Known to have unique flavors and distinct characteristics, Ethiopian coffee is exceptionally special and different.

Here, I've put together a guide to Ethiopian coffee. I'll delve into everything from the Ethiopian coffee taste to the processes used to prepare them and more.

What Exactly Does Good Ethiopian Coffee Taste Like?

Overall, the Ethiopian coffee flavor profile is bright and citrusy and comes with high acidity. It has a lighter body and is extremely delicious.[1]

This, however, depends on the coffee growers' region, as Ethiopian coffee does have a diverse flavor profile.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee Flavor Profile

Ethiopian coffee grown here has a fruity flavor with a sweet aroma. It's light to medium body and is incredibly fragrant.

When it comes to Arabica coffee, the Ethiopian Yigacheffee flavor profiles are incredibly fragrant - which is why they are also known as some of the highest quality Ethiopian Arabica coffee beans in the world.

Due to their popularity with the coffee enthusiast, these beans are also known to be more expensive as they are premium-grade.

Ethiopian Sidamo Coffee Flavor Profile

The Sidamo Ethiopian coffee bean has richer flavor profiles that are full-bodied, sweet, and complex.

They are also of low acidity and are typically the bean of choice for coffee lovers and roasters.

I would describe it as a complex flavor profile with flavor notes of berry and cane sugar with some floral flavors and a citrusy aroma.

Ethiopian Harrar Coffee Flavor Profile

Interestingly, compared to the rest, Ethiopian Harrar coffee has intense flavors as it's heavy-bodied and has a spicy flavor and fragrant aroma.

Many have said that these beans produce coffee that has complex flavors with a floral acidity. It has commonly been compared to blackberry jam, and I would even say it's bold and edgy.

Ethiopian Limu Coffee Flavor Profile

Limu Ethiopian coffee has wine-like flavors to it, along with spicy and floral overtones. While this Ethiopian coffee does have some acidity, it's also sharp in flavor.

When I drink this coffee, it reminds me of dark chocolate with berry-like notes.

Ethiopian Lekempti Coffee Flavor Profile

This Ethiopian coffee is definitely on the heavier side, but it's also rich, well-balanced, and almost lingers on my tongue.

When I tried it, it reminded me of layers of dark fruit with notes of chocolate. It's definitely one of the more decadent options out there with a unique flavor profile.

Ethiopian Teppi Coffee Flavor Profile

This Ethiopian coffee has fruity flavors and has the most distinct flavor profile in comparison to the other Ethiopian coffees.

While there are still fruity notes to it, this Ethiopian coffee also has a more citrusy profile. It's typically blended with other Ethiopian coffee beans to create a more complex cup of coffee.

Brief History of Coffee’s Birthplace

Ethiopian coffee has a rich history, which stems from an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi.[2]

Legend has it that he noticed that the goats were eating beans off certain plants - we later come to find that these were coffee plants.

Once the goats ate these fruits - also known as green coffee beans, they became energetic and wouldn't sleep at night.

As he reported this, people started to use these beans for trade, and by the 15th century, plenty of people were drinking coffee.

Kaldi also explained this to a monk who flew it into the fire as he was convinced that this magical effect was the monk's work.

When that happened, the beans started roasting - filling the space with the delicious aroma of freshly roasted coffee.

As time went on, so did the origin of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which shares the oldest coffee beans in the world among family and guests.


Ethiopian Geography & Coffee Growth Regions

Coffee in Ethiopia is mainly grown in mountainous regions - though it depends on the region!

Due to the high elevations, coffee beans here are grown slower, allowing more nutrients to be delivered to the coffee bean. This makes it taste more dense and flavorful.

Yirgacheffe

Yirgacheffe is situated near the Great Rift Valley and is also known for producing some of the best Ethiopian coffee and Arabica coffee beans,

The growing altitude here is about 5,900 to 6,250 feet, and the processing types are mostly natural and washed.

Some of the best coffee primarily grows here, and it's also definitely one of the most popular.

Sidamo

At Siadamo, you'll find some of Ethiopia's highest-yielding soils. It also has excellent growing conditions due to regular rainfall, ideal temperatures, and high altitudes.

Thanks to the conditions it's blessed with, you'll also find some of the best Ethiopian coffee beans here.

Although you can find a broad range of flavors from the coffee trees here, the fruity and earthy variant is the most common.

The growing altitude here is about 4,900 to 7,225 feet, and the processing types are mostly natural and washed.

Harrer

You'll find wild Arabica here, and they're mostly in small farms at altitudes ranging from 6,150 to 7,150 feet.

What's interesting here is that the process of growing and producing coffee is done by hand.

Most of the coffee here is processed naturally, and they have a fruity flavor that makes them suitable for espresso blends.

With the Ethiopian beans here, however, it's likely you won't find them in single-origin coffees.

Limu

Limu coffee is a premium, well-balanced brew grown in the southwest of Ethiopia at altitudes of 3,600 to 6,225 feet.

Traditional varieties of Arabica are grown here, and you'll find some distinctive African coffees in the region.

Guji

This particular region hasn't quite been explored as much as where the other Ethiopian coffees are grown. This rural location consists of lush green forest as well as vast valleys and hills.

Guji is quite a mineral-rich area, so its coffee potential has recently been explored.

Guji coffee is known to have a balanced taste with a complex character which makes it suitable for both filter coffee and espresso.

Genika

With Genika Ethiopian coffee, these are exclusively grown in the Bench Maji Zone.

These coffee beans are small and greyish, and they are primarily known for that chocolate taste with hints of spice and wine, as well as their distinct aroma.


What Processes Are Used To Prepare Ethiopian Coffee Beans?

There are three processes that are predominately used to prepare Ethiopian coffee beans - each of them is quite different from the other and produces coffee with different flavors.

Sun-Drying

With sun drying, the following steps are taken:

  1. The coffee cherries are manually sorted by visual inspection to ensure that only the higher-quality ones exist.
  2. After that, they are placed on elevated drying racks made of wooden poles that are wrapped in burlap or nylon netting.
  3. They are then left for weeks to dry in the sun before the dried coffee husks are removed and packaged for sale.

The sun-dried method produces coffee that's deeper, richer, and with flavors of berries and citrus.

Wet-Processing

With the wet processed method, the following steps are taken:

  1. The cherries are submerged in water, resulting in the less dense ones floating and the denser ones sinking.
  2. The fruit is then removed by eco-pulpers that remove the skin to have access to the parchment coffee.
  3. This is then fermented for two to three days to eliminate the mucilage (inner layer of pulp).
  4. Once that's done, the coffee is then soaked for 12 hours in a soaking tank before being dried on a raised bed for two weeks.
  5. Damaged Ethiopian coffee beans are then removed, and the remaining are sent for sale.

The wet-processed coffee method produces beans that have a light, vibrant, and complex flavor.

Dry-Processing

With the dry-processed method, the following steps are taken:

  1. The fruit is picked before being laid out in the sun until it is nearly black.
  2. Then, the thick dried outer layer is hulled off to reveal the green bean.

The dry-processed coffee method produces coffee that is sweet, fruity, and complex. You'll find notes of chocolate and berries.


Related Ethiopian Coffee Questions

What region in Ethiopia was coffee first discovered?

The Kaffa region in Ethiopia was where the coffee plant was first discovered.

What is the most popular coffee in Ethiopia?

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans are the most popular coffee in Ethiopia. It is known for being mellow and smooth and is exceptionally popular amongst coffee drinkers worldwide.


Summary

Ethiopian coffee is a specialty coffee with different flavor profiles.

You'll find everything from coffees that have bright acidity to floral notes, fruity acidity, and even ones that have strawberry undertones and a vibrant aftertaste.

With Ethiopia being the birthplace of coffee, I highly recommend trying the coffee from this exceptional area and writing up some coffee-tasting notes to compare them and see which one's your perfect cup!

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157522006330
  2. https://archive-yaleglobal.yale.edu/coffee-long-way-ethiopia

Karmy Widjaja

Author

Karmy Widjaja
Karmy Widjaja, holding a degree in Hospitality Administration, combines her academic background with a profound passion for the world of coffee. Her work is enriched with a wealth of insights, not only about the art of coffee making but also about the broader aspects of the coffee industry. Her quest for coffee perfection is a central theme in her engaging articles, as she continues to explore the vibrant coffee scene in Perth. And when it's time for a coffee break? Karmy's all about a laid-back flat white with almond milk – it's her go-to for a tasty coffee kick.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... flat white with almond milk.

See Our Editorial Processes

Meet Our Team

Share Feedback

Leave a Comment