Best Coffees of Ethiopia – Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Ghimbi Ethiopian Coffees

by Dan Harrington on April 4, 2011

Finest Ethiopian Coffees Delight Coffee Connoisseurs

One of the world’s very top premium gourmet coffees, Ethiopian Coffee is respected for its vibrant, winey acidity along with a distinct pungent wildness and complexity.

Here is an overview of the fine coffees of Ethiopia along with flavor profiles of these amazing, exotic coffees that are among the best on Earth!

Best Coffees of Southern and Western Ethiopia

The coffees of southern Ethiopia are generally wet processed and these include the very fragrant and spicy Ethiopian Yirgacheffes known for their floral aroma, sweet taste and delicate body. Notes of citrus emanate from the brewed cup.

Complex Ethiopian Sidamo coffees also come from this region and exhibit a full, rich body with a bright aftertaste.

The Ethiopian Ghimbi coffees originate in the western part of Ethiopia and are respected for their sharp acidity as well as complex, rich tastes and aromas.

Best Coffees of Eastern Ethiopia

The eastern region of Ethiopia, known for its dry processed are more common in the eastern area of Ethiopia where the winey, fruity Ethiopian Harrars originate providing a complex coffee with a heavy, dry-edged body and notes of blueberry complemented by a brilliant acidity.

Ethiopian Djimmah Coffee (also called Jimma Coffee) is cultivated at elevations ranging from 4,400 feet to 6,000 feet above sea level in the Kaffa and Illubabor areas. When this coffee is wet processed it’s very low-acid, though the dry processed Djimmah can produce an unpleasant taste.

Coffees of Southwestern Ethiopia

Limu Coffee is cultivated at elevations up to 6,200 feet in Ethiopia’s southwestern region. The brewed cup provides is spicy and winey with a sharp richness, and quite low in acidity yet still vibrant, and with a body that is well-balanced and sweet.

The Renowned Ethiopian Harrar Coffees – Best Coffees of Ethiopia

Ethiopian Harrar Coffee is fragrant with a heavy body and spice tones such as cardamom and cinnamon as well as apricot and blueberries, smoke, compote and tones of dark chocolate.

Ethiopian Harrar is a dry-processed exotic and wild Arabica coffee that comes from the small farms of southern Ethiopia’s Oromia area which was formerly known as Harrar, at elevations up to 6,300 feet above sea level.

Harrar Coffees Resonate In the Cup – Popular In Espresso Blends

Harrar coffees are known for their fruit and wine tones with floral notes in the acidity making a bright, pleasant cup of brewed coffee. The aroma is quite heady, very pungent and rich, often with notes of blackberries.

A fine Harrar has a bold edginess to it and a lasting aftertaste that may seem slightly fermented with intense bursts of jasmine. The fruity quality of Harrar has caused it to be compared to a dry red wine. The bold taste of a fine Ethiopian Harrar is said to resonate in the cup and popular in espresso blends.

Harrar Longberry, Shortberry and Mocha – Best Ethiopian Coffees

The three main Ethiopian Harrar coffees are Longberry which is the largest of the Harrar coffee beansShortberry consisting of smaller coffee beans and Mocha comprised of peaberry coffee beans.

Best Coffees of Ethiopia – Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Ghimbi Ethiopian Coffees continued:

Ethiopian Lekempti and Limu Coffees

Ethiopian Lekempti Coffee is cultivated in the Ghimbi and Wollega areas at elevations up to 5,900 feet above sea level. The brewed Lekempti coffee has a strong body similar to Ethiopian Harrar Longberry coffee along with a fruity taste and a very pleasing acidity.

Ethiopian Limu Coffee is a vibrant, wet-processed coffee, very well-balanced with a mild yet somewhat sharp acidity exhibiting floral tones, and fruit-toned spicy and winey tastes. Limu is grown in the southcentral and southwest regions of Ethiopia at elevations up to 6,200 feet.

Ethiopian Sidamo and Yirgacheffee Coffees

Ethiopian Sidamo Coffee is a washed (wet-processed) coffee respected for its sweet complexity and floral aroma along with a very muted acidity yet a very full and rich body with tones of chocolate, wine and spice. The aftertaste is soft and bright.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffee Coffee typically has a medium body and exhibits very clean, pleasant and sweet fragrant and spicy flavors and bright acidity. A wet processed coffee, Yirgacheffe is grown at elevations up to 6,600 feet is the most distinguished coffee of southern Ethiopia, an area with many fine coffees.

The floral tones in an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee can be positively complex, sometimes suggesting toasted coconut with wine and berry notes. You may also detect nuances of citrus and tangerine with a tart lemon twist (making it great for iced coffee), and a mild chocolate and nutty flavors.

While Ethiopian Harrar Coffees are often considered wild and jammy, the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffees instead evoke high-toned citrus and floral notes.

Best Coffees of Ethiopia – The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Coffee is integral to Ethiopian culture as exemplified by the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. This is understandable when one considers that coffee likely originated in Ethiopia. For the whole story see the World’s Best History of Coffee.

The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony begins with the roasting of the buna (coffee beans) in the baret metad (flat iron pan roasting plate). The roasting is done over a charcoal stove as the beans are continually moved and start crackling and releasing their fine aromas.

Once the coffee beans have been roasted they are set onto either a straw mat (margegabia) or a clay plate (wacheff). The fresh-roasted beans are then walked around near to the guests at the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony and the fine aromas are allowed to waft toward the guests so they can fully appreciate them.

A pestle (zenezena), mortar (mukecha) or a stone block is used to crush up the coffee beans and then the ground coffee is set into a clay coffee pot called a jibuna along with boiling water. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves or other spices may be added at this stage, typically in very small amounts.

Allowing the Coffee To Settle In the Jibuna – Best Ethiopian Coffees

The next step in the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is that the jibuna (clay coffee pot) is taken off of the heat and set into a woven straw holder known as a matot. The particles of ground coffee settle to the bottom of the jibuna.

Once the coffee is ready it is typically served with sugar but not with milk. Some Ethiopians add salt. To read about what happens next – including the Art of the Pour, the Transformation, and the serving order – see Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

Thank You for Reading Best Coffees of Ethiopia – Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Ghimbi Ethiopian Coffees and Visiting Gourmet Coffee Lovers! Love Your Coffee and Espresso!


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