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Ethiopian Coffee Beans

Freshly roasted Delicious Ethically sourced Brighter coffee for you to brew.

Ethiopia. To a coffee fan, the name alone inspires anticipation and expectation that few other coffee-producing countries can dream of.

Ethiopia, widely proclaimed as the birthplace of coffee, is famous for its rich history of coffee production, cultural and societal connection to coffee and incredibly delicious and distinct characteristics of its heirloom or native coffee plants.

What’s the big deal with Ethiopian Coffee?

The variety of Ethiopian coffee may have something to do with it. Each producing region has its own distinct flavour profiles and broad market appeal around those particular regions. Another important variable is the quality of the harvest because of the growing conditions, picking and processing methods, and grading standards. Ethiopian coffees are grown in the mountains, in shaded forests, and most often hand-picked at peak ripeness. The lack of mechanisation leads to higher labour costs, but a more discerningly harvested coffee. Coffee is processed at the washing stations, then graded and sold for export. The strict grading criteria for coffee ensure consistent quality across the board for Ethiopian coffee. 

We think the combination of flavour variety, and very sweet and fruity coffees, along with the culture and heritage of Ethiopian coffee, ‌makes it so highly regarded. 

Did you know: that 50% of the coffee produced in Ethiopia is consumed domestically?

Roasting Advice: 

Ethiopian coffee is usually a hard and dense bean. Denser beans have more sugars and the wide range of bean sizes means keeping the brightness and sweetness is a bit tricky, but worthwhile. Avoid pre-heating the roasting equipment too much, keep a gradual declining heat application, and pay special attention to the aromas when roasting. Natural process coffees should be roasted a bit more gently than washed coffees. 

Start roasting with smaller amounts to get a feel for the behaviour of the coffee, as Ethiopian coffees are unpredictable.

Coffee Questions

What coffee varieties are found in Ethiopia?

Coffee varieties in Ethiopian coffees are tricky. You will most likely see “Heirloom” as the catch-all term often used to describe the varieties in Ethiopian coffees.Heirloom basically means “old cultivar” regarding food products, and it’s basically become a way for coffee roasters and exporters to categorise the coffee from Ethiopia in the absence of specific genetic information. Basically, it’s “we don’t know the species, but we know it’s a native wild grown species”. 

The complexity of the genetic lineage of coffee trees in Ethiopia thanks to 2000 years of natural history makes for a pretty intimidating task or sorting out the various species from each other in the high mountains of Ethiopia. Research is underway to categorise some of these wild grown coffee species, however. 

The farmers do have their own names for coffee species, usually based on the geographical regions the trees are found/planted. Harrar is a well known “species”, as is Kurume, Gurume, and many more. If available, we include the farmer supplied varietal on our labels. If there is no specific information, we rely on “heirloom” as much as the next guy. 

Did you know: It’s estimated that there are over 10,000 unique species of wild grown coffees in Ethiopia.

What Ethiopian Coffees does Brightside Coffee have?

Check out our Ethiopian coffee selection! We try to have a washed and a natural on hand ‌, and select our Ethiopian coffees with a focus on unique and exciting flavours that are highlighted across all brewing methods to really get the most out of them. They are usually purchased in small quantities, so there will be a rotating selection of Ethiopian coffees all year round.

What are the main growing regions of coffee in Ethiopia?

Region Processing Method Geographic location Elevation (Meters above sea level) Flavour Profile Trivia Biggest challenges at origin
Harrar Natural Eastern Ethiopia 1600 – 2100  Bold flavours, blueberry, apricot, winey, dry mouth feel Harrar is now known as the Oromia region. Traceability of crops of coffee down to the farm level is limited.
Sidama Washed and Natural. Washed is slightly more popular.  Southern Ethiopia 1500 – 2200 Spice, fine acidity, lemon, bergamont, some tropical notes Experimental processing methods like honey and fermentation are not common in Sidama. Shortage of labour due to higher paying jobs in the cities. 
Yirgacheffe Washed and Natural Southern Ethiopia 1900 – 2200 Citrus, floral, sweet notes, berries, tangerine, milk chocolate Our personal favourite growing region at Brightside  Climate change and labour shortages. 
Jimma Primarily Washed South West Ethiopia 1400 – 2100 Sweet, mild, stonefruits, tropical, citrus zest Natural processed Jimma coffees are occasionally described as medicinal in taste.  Climate change/disruptions from weather events. 
Limmu Primarily Washed South West Ethiopia 1100 – 1900 Low acid, well balanced, spices, floral notes A lot of commodity grade coffees are grown in Limmu.  Climate change and marketability against more popular Ethiopian regions.