It is so amazing that nowadays coffee is grown all around the world, within where conditions allow anyway. It has traveled far and wide because people love it and have wanted to share it from the start. If we take a look at coffee and its journey, we can see that coffee originated in Ethiopia. It is said that a goat herder named Kaldi actually discovered it all those years ago. Dive deeper into that story and it is said that whatever form of coffee he found kept his herd up all night. Now that first cup of joe was probably a lot different from what we know now. But close attention is still paid to the coffee of that part of Africa. To this day it is one of the top coffee-producing countries!
Ethiopia has several different regions within it, all of which produce arabica beans. If you look at the difference between arabica and robusta beans, you will see how arabica fits into this equation. The regions of Ethiopia are called Djima, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Harrar, & Limu (Ethiopia is quite large). These regions are so different that they would each produce unique coffee beans. The region of Ethiopia that we are here to discuss is called Yiragacheffe, which is in southern Ethiopia. Ethiopian Yiragacheffe Coffee is what we consider to be one of our top 10 best types of coffee beans. But a lot goes into it to make it that way.
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What Growing Conditions are in this Region?
Ethiopia has very fertile land that is perfect for growing coffee beans. The Yirgacheffe region specifically has a high elevation, between 1,700 to 2,200 meters specifically. That alone has a huge impact on the flavor of the bean, as certain heights are associated with certain notes in coffee because they also grow slower at higher elevations.
The region goes through intensely different wet and dry seasons, but local Yirgacheffe coffee beans need to be washed and sun-dried. There is no wasting time to risk ruining the beans. These harsh conditions mean that the farmers need to be very knowledgeable and careful in order to bring out the best in the bean. There are a lot of steps between growing and later drinking coffee. From harvesting to milling to roasting, all of those steps can make or break Yirgacheffe coffee’s potential.
What Does it Taste Like?
Ethiopian Yiragacheffe Coffee is known to have a mocha note with hints of blueberry and other fruits. A lot of brands mention notes of lemon, which is not common in a lot of roasts that we see. Its lighter and milder body compliments these flavors, with florals and fruits balancing out any deeper chocolate notes that are also there. Yiragacheffe Coffee manages to have those light notes without being too acidic.
These delicate notes also mean that it can be really fun to use different brewing techniques in order to bring out those flavors most. Check out our coffee inspector for Pour Over vs Chemex, because we think either of those could really compliment Yiragacheffe Coffee. Just please, grind it fresh and properly for the given technique. Coffee is only as good as its brewing technique. With those common notes in mind, some things are bound to change with the roast.
Why It Should be a Light or Medium Roast
Dark roast has its place, there is no denying that these dark roasts are worth trying, but we think Ethiopian Coffee really shines through when roasted lightly. Those flavors that the bean has naturally need to be preserved and a dark roast will not do that. The natural sweet flavors of the bean can really be appreciated without being roasted for extra caramelization.
A dark roast will give you a bit more of a kick of flavor, and still a pleasant one at that, but the flavor will not be as natural as it could be. A dark roast may take away from then notes that Yirgacheffe Coffee has naturally. It is not completely off the table to pull a great espresso shot with these beans, but it will be different. Roasting almost always comes down to what you are looking for in your coffee!
Bonus points also go to light roasts because of their slight caffeine advantage. Read more about light roasts and what it does for all coffee beans here.
Are Ethiopian Coffee Beans More Expensive?
It may seem like certain coffees are more expensive just because roasters think they can get away with it, but there is the reason for the differing prices. More manpower is required each step of the way in order to pay attention to all of these growing conditions. Just like arabica beans in general, Ethiopian Coffee beans are not going to be the cheapest on the market—but do not take them out of your cart just yet.
What’s so great about Ethiopian Coffee bean though is that it is a big enough region to produce enough beans so that they are not crazy expensive. They are nowhere near making the list of Top Four Most Expensive Coffees in the World. Even if it did, it might still be worth it. Make sure that the coffee that you purchase is single-origin, meaning it is sourced from a single farm. Doing this will help you avoid any coffee blends that may sneak in other beans and ruin the quality or flavor of your coffee.
Thanks for reading about the unique experience that comes with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee. We definitely think it is something a lot different from coffee in other regions. Take a look at these Best Coffee Brands from Ethiopia to see what options work best for you! Or have you already picked some up?
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We’ll brew ya later! ☕️