In this day and age of coffee shops on every corner it would seem that the regular cup of coffee has become a thing of the past. The truth is that there never has been a regular cup of coffee. From its humble origins 800 to 1000 years ago in what is now the Ethiopian Highlands, coffee has made an amazing and exotic trip encompassing religion, politics, economics, imperialism, revolution and of course that morning wake-up. Coffee is now grown in over fifty countries and employs twenty-five million people world wide. Coffee is one of the most traded and valuable products in dollars in the world. It provides a livelihood for over twenty million people worldwide. With over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. Something to think about the next time you gas up the car and get a cup of coffee to go.
There are many legends that pertain to the origin of coffee drinking, some of which may be true. There is no evidence, however, to show exactly when or how coffee was first discovered. One thing is for certain; Arabica Coffee is indigenous to what is now Ethiopia and, was transported to the Arabian Peninsula where it was first cultivated in what is today the country of Yemen. Wild coffee is still found in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia to this day. It is also cultivated in the Harar, Limmu, Yirgacheffe and Sidamo regions. Washed Yirgacheffe and Sidamo are the most common Ethiopian coffees found in the United States and are both popular for their medium to light body and floral aroma. Ethiopian coffees can vary greatly from lot to lot and year to year, so finding that perfect blueberry note in a Yirgacheffe or hint of lemon in a Sidamo is always a challenge for even the best roasters and cuppers.
At their best, Ethiopian coffees are an incredibly elegant cup with a complexity and character riveled by few other origins. Each sip is a celebration of the entire coffee industry, rich in culture, heritage, history, and pride for a product and beverage that has been a major contributor to shaping the world as we know it today.