African Coffees Rank Best in US Taste Test
When most people think of coffee, their minds immediately turn to South America. However Africa boasts good coffee with some of the world’s best brew originating from and native to the continent. Therefore, I was pleased to see an article on a US lifestyle magazine naming Ethiopia and Kenya (2 countries in Africa) among the top coffee-growing countries in the world. Thrillist.com asked eleven coffee industry experts to rank their top three coffee growing countries and Ethiopia and Kenya ranked first and second respectively (Colombia came third).
The largest producer of coffee in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia is the fifth largest coffee producer in the world next to Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia, contributing about 7 to 10 percent of total world coffee production. Ethiopia is the genetic birth place of Coffee Arabica, which grows wild and has been harvested in the region for millennia. What makes Ethiopian coffee unique is that it’s native to the region therefore, it rarely suffers from climate or disease-born chaos — which coffee producers in other countries may have to contend with in places where coffee isn’t native but rather introduced to the region. For example, the recent incident of the coffee-leaf rust that plagued Central America this past year and wiped out thousands of farms.
Coffee accounts for 60 percent of Ethiopia’s export earnings with 95 percent of its coffee produced by small holder farmers on less than two hectares of land (the other 5% is produced by large commercial holdings). This makes coffee a very important part of the Ethiopian economy with about 15 million people directly or indirectly deriving their livelihoods from coffee.
Ethiopia is now expanding its branding and trade marking of coffee in order to increase competitiveness and enhance relations with global buyers. There is even talk of German multinational, the Bosch Group, helping to raise the profile of Ethiopian coffee by providing better processing equipment and expertise thereby leveraging technology to enable the coffee compete globally.
Have you ever had a cup of Ethiopian coffee? What did you think?