It is widely accepted that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, where the first coffee shrub was discovered. Today, more than 12 million locals are involved in coffee cultivation and its production - an integral part of the Ethiopian culture. A common saying in Ethiopian goes “Buna dabo naw” which means “Coffee is our bread”, signifying the significance and importance of coffee in their life.
The coffee plant, Coffea arabica, originates in Ethiopia. According to legend, the 9th-century goat-herder Kaldi in the region of keffa discovered the coffee plant after noticing the energizing effect the plant had on his flock, but the story did not appear in writing until 1671.
Most coffee is grown in the Ethiopian highlands at altitudes ranging from about 1200 to 2200 meters. Ethiopian coffee beans of the species Coffee arabica can be divided into three categories: Longberry, Shortberry, and Mocha. Longberry varieties consist of the largest beans and are often considered of the highest quality in both value and flavor. Shortberry varieties are smaller than the Longberry beans but, are considered a high-grade bean in Eastern Ethiopia where it originates. Also, the Mocha variety is a highly prized commodity. Mocha Harars are known for their peaberry beans that often have complex chocolate, spice, and citrus notes.
The optimal areas for growing coffee in Ethiopia are mainly in the southern and southwestern areas of the country. These are places like Yirgacheffe, Limu, and Sidamo. However, new regions like Guji and West Arsi have been gaining popularity in recent years.