Coffees from this growing region are the most distinctive in the world, characterized by dry, winy acidity, chocolate and fruit undertones, rustic flavors and intense aromas. Ethiopia is the native land of coffee, and it was in Yemen that coffee was first cultivated and prepared.
The coffee plant is native to southern Asia and subtropical Africa, but it is grown in many tropical climates around the world including Hawaii, The Caribbean, and both South America and Central America. It is an evergreen shrub (often referred to as a tree) that blooms with small, white, fragrant flowers. After blooming, the coffee plant will bear small, oblong fruit called cherries. As they ripen, the cherries shift from green to yellow, and eventually bright red when ripe. Each cherry contains two seeds – these seeds are the beans that will eventually be picked, processed, and roasted. A coffee plant will begin to produce fruit after three to five years and will continue bearing fruit for fifty to sixty years. Sauce
Kenya Coffee Production
Ethiopia is the birthplace of the Arabica tree, and wild berries are still harvested by tribes’ people in its mountains. In Eastern Ethiopia, coffee trees are grown between 5,000 and 6,000 feet on small peasant plots and farms. These coffees may be called longberry Harrar [large bean], shortberry Harrar [smaller bean] or Mocha Harrar [peaberry or single bean]. They are all cultivated simply, processed by the traditional dry method, and are no doubt organic. Ethiopian Harrar is characterized by winy and blueberry undertones, with good body and high acid.
Eastern Ethiopia produces a washed coffee called Ghimbi or Gimbi, that has the winy undertones of Harrar, but can be richer, more balanced, and have a heavier body and longer finish.
Southern Ethiopia produces washed coffees with fruity acidity and intense aromas. These coffees are known by the names of the districts in which they are produced, such as Sidamo, or by terms like Ethiopian Fancies or Ethiopian Estate Grown. The most famous of these coffees is Yirgacheffe, which has an unparalled fruity aroma, light and elegant body, and an almost menthol taste. Many U.S. consumers seek this coffee out.
Kenya works diligently to assure quality in all beans that are exported. The coffee is cultivated on small farms, and the growers are rewarded with high prices for quality beans. The main growing region in Kenya extends south of 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya to near the capital of Nairobi. Kenyan coffee is wet-processed and sold by the size of the bean, with AA signifying the largest beans, followed by A and B. The best Kenyan coffee, called Estate Kenya, can cost twice as much as regular AA's, but is worth the price. The tremendous body, astounding winy acidity and black-current flavor and aroma make Estate Kenya one of the finest coffees in the world.
Most Tanzanian coffees are grown near the border of Kenya on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and are sometimes referred to as Kilimanjaro, Moshi or Arusha. Other coffees are grown further south between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa, and are usually called Mbeya, after one of the region's cities or Pare, a market name. All coffees are wet-processed and graded by bean size, with the highest grade being AA, then A and B. Tanzanian coffees are characterized by a winy acidity, medium to full body, and deep richness. Peaberries are often separated from flat beans and sold at a premium for the enhanced flavor characteristics they possess.
Most of the coffee produced in Uganda is Robusta, and is used for instant coffee. Uganda does produce one fine Arabica called either Bugishu or Bugisu, and it is grown on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon on the Kenyan border. This coffee is winy in its acidity, and similar to Kenyan coffee in flavor, though lighter in body.
Coffee is grown on medium-sized farms and is a less potent version of Kenyan coffee, containing less acid and less body. The best come from the Chipinga region.