Ethiopia is called “the birthplace of coffee” where it was first consumed as a wild fruit. In contrast, Yemen is the first place that coffee was grown as a crop. Ethiopia has an incredible amount of coffee plant diversity with most of them being wild varieties. As a result, coffees from Ethiopia are mysterious, unusual and astonishing, many with incredible fruity notes.

Coffee exporting in Ethiopia began in the 1600s when cafe also began and harvesting was mostly from wild trees instead of established plantations. It wasn’t until the 1950s that more structure for coffee and coffee grading were established. A government uprising in the 1970s moved the government from a feudal system to a more Marxist system, which prevented land ownership or hired labor and destroyed large-scale farming. At that time, Ethiopia moved back to harvesting coffee from the wild. The 1980s were marked with famine, killing over 1 million Ethiopians.

The 1900s saw a democratic government established, along with the natural swings of market prices for coffee. Coffee coops were formed to help support members with those natural price fluctuations as well as funding, market information and transport. In 2008, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) was established to protect buyers and sellers, but basically eliminated specific trace-ability. The ECX had other benefits like a grading system to rank coffee quality, financial transparency, and earlier pay for farmers. Today, there are opportunities to work outside the ECX for traceability, but either way, Ethiopia coffees are a real treat and noticeably diverse from any other coffee region in the world.

Ethiopia coffees are what Snowbank Brewing uses when they make Cranknstein, the coffee pale ale. We think Ethiopia coffees are a real treat!

ethiopia kaffa coffee region

Kaffa, Ethiopia. Photo: http://ravenclaw26.blogspot.com/2014_02_01_archive.html

Meet the Bean: Ethiopia Kaffa -Michiti Coop

Tasting Notes: Floral jasmine, Earl Grey, peach juice, honeyed sweetness, brilliant acidity

Varietal: Heirloom Varietals

Score: 89

Process: Wet Process

About the Farm: Michiti is a cooperative in the far Western area of Ethiopia called Kaffa, where coffee is said to originate as an understory plant in the dense forests. The Michiti area has 260 coop members growing coffee on small farms  at a range of 1700 to 1900 meters. Unlike what you might imagine as a traditional coffee farm, here coffee is simply planted in the forests, unattended and then harvested when ripe. Other coffee is simply found growing wild and harvested. A few farms are intentionally planted and cared for, but it is less common.

This cooperative in particular receives assistance in their business organization and accounting, agronomy, processing, and marketing. This year, they also paid a record dividend to farmers this year after the harvest based on the price that Coffee Shrub paid for their coffee. We think it’s well worth it!

This coffee is part of Coffee Shrub‘s Farm Gate pricing program.

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