Focus on Origin: Ethiopia
Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, produces some of the most exceptional coffees in the world. The broad topography, weather, terrain and processing techniques create huge diversity in the country, including the highest concentration of highland areas on the African continent. Notable growing regions include Yirgacheffe, which lies within the Sidamo region in the South and produces coffee with bright, earl grey tea-like bergamot and mango flavours that have very light body and sweetness. In Sidamo the diversity of flavour can range from complex fruity acidity, to deep berries and chocolate, whilst the creamy blueberry flavour in the natural coffees of Harar are well sought after. The Northern growing regions of Ethiopia includes Lekempti and Gimbi, both of which produce good bodied, sweet coffees.
Coffee plays a big part in Ethiopia’s trade, as 10% of its export earnings are made up solely of coffee production. There are few farms, but many co-operatives and large areas of plantations referred to as ‘gardens’ or ‘forests’, which are traded under the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) platform, established in 2008. Due to this system 90% of Ethiopia’s coffee production is auctioned through the ECX and, although consistency in quality and trade can be controlled and improved, there is little traceability from farm to cup. You have to be Ethiopian to be able to buy coffee at auction, so green buyers must utilise unions or private exporters to do so.
The Ethiopian coffee market has seen a big rise in price recently, this is mainly due to the knock-on effect of last year’s drought in Brazil; the Washing Stations and Exporters were able to sell their coffee at a good price at auction due to global demand. This year farmers were asking for higher prices for their coffee harvests, which in turn encouraged the mills to pay a higher price to the farmers for the cherries. The roll on effect created by this impacted the dry mill, unions, exporters and, therefore, ourselves. We are paying more for Ethiopian coffees than in previous years, however the farmers themselves are seeing the benefits and quality is on the rise.
Current Climpson’s Coffees: Knots Family Farm, Biftu Gudina Lot 1 and Lot 6, Reko, Sidamo Sasaba
Growing Regions: Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Harar, Limu, Djimmah, Nekemte, Lekempti, Wellega and Gimbi (1,200 – 2,200 masl)
Varieties: Mixed Heirloom
Processes: Washed and Natural
Harvest: October – December
World Ranking: 5th Largest Coffee Producer in the World
Tasting Notes: tea-like and delicate floral flavours, ranging from bright acidity and intense tropical passion fruit and mango to creamy, funky blueberry. Expect lemon acidity, jasmine and berries.