With notes of malted milk and spices throughout and a slightly boozy finish, our delicious single origin, medium roast, Ethiopian coffee is incredibly consistent in quality. It is regionally-sourced from multiple smallholder farms in the Lekempte region, to the West of Ethiopia. The Bulechala co-operative comprises around 2,300 members with farms producing just over 1,600 hectares of classic Ethiopian Heirloom Arabica bean varieties.
Coffee production in Ethiopia has a long tradition which dates back dozens of centuries. In fact, Ethiopia is from where Coffea arabica, the coffee plant, originates. According to legend, the 9th Century goatherder Kaldi discovered the coffee plant, in the region of Kaffa (Kefa), after noticing the energising effect the cherries had on his flock. After experiencing the benefits for himself, he then took the fruit to the local monastery where the grateful monks found themselves able to stay awake through many hours of prayer. However, the story did not appear in writing until 1671 and is probably apocryphal.
Ethiopia is today the world’s seventh largest producer, accounting for around 3% of the global coffee market. It is also Africa’s largest coffee producer. Coffee is important to the economy of Ethiopia: around 60% of foreign income comes from coffee with an estimated 15 million of the population relying on some aspect of coffee production for their livelihood. However, half of the coffee is consumed by Ethiopians and the country also leads the continent in domestic consumption.
In 2006, 260,000 metric tonnes were grown with coffee exports bringing in $350 million, equivalent to 34% of that year’s total exports. The major markets for Ethiopian coffee are the EU (about half of exports); East Asia (about a quarter) and North America. The total area used for coffee cultivation is estimated to be about 4,000 km² (1,500 sq mi). The exact size is unknown due to the fragmented nature of the coffee farms. Production methods have not changed much, with nearly all cultivating and drying still done by hand.