Origin Guide, Africa.
Being the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia is arguably one of the most interesting producing origins due to the incredible range of flavour profiles it can produce along with the degree of mystery that surrounds the coffee industry there.
It is globally accepted that coffee originated in Ethiopia due to the fact that it was in this country that the crop truly started to flourish and was first consumed by humans. The story of its discovery is mostly fictional, though fact probably lies at the heart of it somewhere! Legend has it a goatherd named Kaldi discovered his animals behaving strangely after consuming the fruit of a particular tree. He tried the fruit for himself and started to behave similarly, feeling energised and slightly hyperactive. Word soon spread to the local village where a preacher hurled the fruit onto a fire declaring the cherries the work of the devil. Shortly after, the air was filled with the aroma of roasting coffee upon which he relented, declaring such a fragrance to be surely the work of God!
Ethiopia has had a strong coffee culture ever since and it has the largest internal consumption rates of any other producing country with 60 per cent of the coffee produced being sold to local buyers. Ethiopia produces a wide range of coffee with each region’s beans having very distinctive characteristics making some of these the best and most sought after in the world. Key producing regions include Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe (in Sidamo), Limu, Djimmah, Lekempti and Bebeka. It is the largest coffee producer in Africa and in the Arabica league, is third in the world with a production of between 4 and 5 million bags.
For many reasons, Ethiopia has been a challenging country to buy coffee from but our main struggles have been in building a long term partnership with a particular producer or washing station. This is partly due to the way coffee has been historically traded in the country using a centralised auction system which can lead to amazing quality but with a lack of traceability to farm level. For producers and exporters working there, it can be an incredibly debilitating experience hence the traditional focus on short term sales. For this reason we have partnered with Bertu Coffee - Bertu means ‘keep up the good work, don’t give up, be strong.’ Their buying model has been created to favour producers who adopt a long-term mindset.
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Bertu seek to: establish strong buyer relationships, budget and maintain a predictable cost structure with producers who have control and understanding of their costs of production, achieve operational excellence and work towards a zero carbon footprint from farm to port through mixing traditional forestry practices with newer regenerative farming principles.