Ethiopian Coffee: Goat-approved Since 850 AD! (2023)

I haven’t figured out whether the chicken comes before the egg yet, but I have solved another mystery: the origin of coffee (well, not me specifically, but you know what I mean).Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and centuries after its discovery, plenty of coffee connoisseurs will tell you that Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world.

I haven’t figured out whether the chicken comes before the egg yet, but I have solved another mystery: the origin of coffee (well, not me specifically, but you know what I mean).Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and centuries after its discovery, plenty of coffee connoisseurs will tell you that Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world.

So, whether you’re here to find out whether Ethiopian coffee lives up to the hype or just to get a history lesson, I’ve got plenty to say!

Table of Contents

  1. History
  2. Production Today
  3. Why Coffee Grows Well
  4. Growing Regions
  5. YirgacheffeGujiHarrarLimuTeppi
  6. Processing Methods
  7. Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony
  8. Flavor Profile
  9. How To Buy
  10. How To Brew
  11. FAQ

History of Ethiopian Coffee

Is it too much of a cliche to start off the origin story of coffee with “once upon a time?” It works for fairy tales – although the history of coffee in Ethiopia is more legend than fairytale.

According to ancient legend, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi discovered his flock munching on what looked like berries, around 850 AD.

After consuming the fruit the goats became super energetic, dancing wildly and unable to sleep. In other words, Kaldi’s goats were experiencing a massive caffeine rush. Kaldi thought he’d stumbled upon “magic beans” and brought his findings to the local monastery.

Some reports suggest that Kaldi was more terrified than mesmerized by the discovery. He even went on to throw the coffee beans into the fire and proclaim them a product of the Devil. Turns out, he might’ve just been the first person to ever try and roast coffee beans.

Regardless, the monastery turned the beans into a drink with energizing properties. From there, the rest is history. Word spread along the Arabian Peninsula about these coffee beans, or Kaffa, as they were known back then.

Even as coffee production spread across the world, Ethiopia remained a stronghold for its cultivation. And to think it all started with an innocent goat herder and some hungry goats!

Ethiopian Coffee Production Today

It’s been a few years since Kaldi’s discovery … give or take a couple of millennia. I’ll admit that it’s hard to beat Brazil, which produces around 40 percent of the world’s coffee beans.

Still, that doesn’t mean Ethiopia isn’t putting in the work. Today, Ethiopia produces around three percent of all the coffee beans in the world. Or, if you want numbers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates close to four million bags for 2022.

That may not seem like much, but Ethiopia ranks fifth in the world – and number one in Africa. Of course, around half of that is reserved for domestic consumption by the people of Ethiopia. Unsurprisingly, coffee is heavily ingrained in Ethiopian culture. There’s even an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which I’ll get into later.

I think it’s worth noting that most of that production isn’t from large coffee plantations. More than 15 million smallholder farmers make up most of those numbers, and rely on coffee farming as their livelihood.

Fun fact:Buna dabo naw is an Ethiopian coffee saying that means “coffee is our bread.”

Why Does Coffee Grow Well in Ethiopia?

While the discovery of coffee in Ethiopia might have been a happy accident, the ability for coffee plants to thrive there is not. With thick vegetation, healthy soil and mountainous terrain, Ethiopia’s tropical climate has the perfect recipe to produce delicious coffee beans. And without the need for pesky agricultural chemicals.

So, even if Ethiopia doesn’t produce as much coffee as Brazil or other countries, the coffee that is grown there is more sustainable.

Depending on the region, some Ethiopian coffees are grown at altitudes of more than 2,000 feet (609 meters) above sea level. Imagine making that hike for your coffee harvest every year!

Those high elevations make the coffee plants work harder, but the long wait pays off. To put it in terms your science teacher would appreciate: more mature coffee beans have more complex sugars. That means deeper, fuller and more balanced flavors in your morning cup of joe.

Ethiopia's Coffee Growing Regions

Those thousands of varietals that Ethiopia produces each year? They don’t all come from the same place. Your Ethiopian coffee can taste wildly different, depending on where it was grown and processed.


You may know it as part of the Sidamo region, but regardless of what you call it, a lot of people consider Yirgacheffe to be the most noteworthy growing region for Ethiopian beans. As part of southern Ethiopia, the mountains of Yirgacheffe tend to produce sweeter, more mature Ethiopian coffees.

Don’t be surprised if you find more Yirgacheffe coffee available during the wintertime. Thetypical harvest runs from October to December. So, this fruitier Arabica coffee may be the perfect complement to the holiday season.


For anyone who’s a fan of fruity, acidic coffee, Guji coffee may just be the best Ethiopian coffee for you. Of course, before Guji coffee ends up in your favorite coffee mug, it must first grow in the lush green forest of the Guji region.

With so much untouched forest, it’s not shocking that the region serves as the perfect backdrop for remote coffee villages.

While many people consider Guji coffee to be bright and fruity, the growing region is diverse enough to yield plenty of unique flavor profiles.


In Harrar, farmers have been naturally processing their coffee beans for centuries. Generally, coffee from the Harrar region tends to be full-bodied with dry fruitiness.

Rather than wet processing the beans like they do in Yirgacheffe,farmers in Harrar are sticking to tradition. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Given some of the complex flavors that come from Harrar coffee beans, I’d argue there’s nothing broken about this region’s dry processing methods.


Growing their beans at elevations over 6,000 feet (1828 meters), most people associate premium washed Ethiopian coffee with the Limu region.

These guys have got the good stuff, so to speak. The beans tend to have fruity, sharp flavors reminiscent of Yirgacheffe coffee.


Ethiopia might not rely on wild coffee trees anymore, but plenty of coffee drinkers will agree that Teppi coffee comes with a distinct “wild” taste.

That may have something to do with all the citrusy flavors you’ll find in these beans. Plus, the growing region includes some of the highest elevations you’ll find Ethiopian beans grown.

How Is Coffee Processed in Ethiopia?

If words like dry processing or wet processing sound like gibberish to you, get ready for me to drop a few knowledge bombs. While the type of processing can vary from region to region, most Ethiopian coffee beans are processed one of two ways: through sun drying or wet washing techniques.

Between the two, sun dried – or natural – processing tends to be the top choice. That’s not a shock since Ethiopian beans have (and are) mostly harvested by small farmers. Dry processing is cheaper and uses less water, which is another reason why it’s commonly used in more rural regions.

The benefits of dry processing, however, are bold, intense flavors and full-bodied coffees. Naturally processed beans dry in the sun, and the fruit pulp isn’t removed until it’s ready to export. Hence, the fruitier flavors you’ll find with dry processed beans.

In comparison, wet processing removes the fruit immediately with the help of machinery.

You’ll still find plenty of farmers that wash their beans, especially when it comes to premium coffees. Not only is wet processing quicker, it tends to yield more consistent results and a cleaner-tasting cup.

That isn’t to say wet processed beans are better than dry processed beans. Both techniques have their advantages, although wet processing isn’t always feasible for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. Not to mention, the environmental impact that comes with more water usage and more machinery.

The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Remember when I said coffee was important to Ethiopian culture? Well, I wasn’t kidding. The proof is in the pudding – or, in this case, the Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Even today, it’s considered one of the most important social customs in this East African country.

Households can perform the ceremony up to three times per day, and it’s not unusual for families to invite neighbors or friends. For a lot of locals, the coffee ceremony is a way to connect as a community through good conversation (and coffee). Being invited into someone’s coffee ceremony is a major sign of respect.

What’s involved in the actual ceremony, you ask? Essentially, the Ethiopian coffee ceremony involves turning raw coffee beans into finished cups of coffee. The host – usually the matriarch of the household – washes the coffee beans by hand and roasts them over an open flame.

Once the host has roasted beans, they’ll manually grind them. No burr coffee grinders here! Then, the beans and water go into a long-handled pan, also called a Jebena. These pots are similar to the ibriks used to make Turkish coffee.

The freshly ground coffee boils with the water, and once it’s “brewed,” the host will taste it to make sure it’s ready. If they give the green light, that means it’s time for the guests to get their own cups.

In case you’re wondering, there are no espresso cups or Turkish coffee cups involved in this ceremony. When it’s time to distribute the coffee, the host will usually pour the coffee into small, handleless vessels.

Flavor Profile: What To Expect From Ethiopian Coffee

While the taste of Ethiopian coffee can vary by growing region (and even batch), most of these beans still have the same general flavor profile. Typically, Ethiopian coffee has bright, fruitier flavors with floral notes.

It’s not unusual for naturally processed coffee beans to display notes of blueberry, wine or even cocoa.

On the other hand, wet processed Ethiopian beans tend to be lighter with flavors like jasmine or lemongrass. Lemongrass may seem like an odd flavor in your coffee, but it’s more appetizing than you think!

How To Buy Ethiopian Coffee

As convenient as it would be if your local grocery store stocked high-quality, authentic Ethiopian coffee beans, the odds aren’t in your favor. Buying real Ethiopian coffee may take a little bit more effort than throwing a bag in your shopping cart.

Short of booking a flight and heading to Ethiopia, your best option is buying your beans from your local roaster or coffee shop. Any roaster worth their salt is going to carry Ethiopian coffee beans – even if selection is limited. If you don’t have access to a local independent roaster, you can always buy beans online.

Here are a couple of tips if you’re unsure about how to buy Ethiopian coffee online:

  • Make sure the roaster you’re buying from isn’t roasting the beans until after you’ve purchased them. The fresher the beans, the better.
  • Don’t forget that Ethiopian coffee is seasonal, so you may not be able to buy from the same region all the time. Availability will depend on the harvest time of the region.
  • The details do matter. Look for information about which growing region the beans are from, how they’re processed and what flavor profile you can expect.

How To Brew Ethiopian Coffee

So, you’ve managed to secure some whole bean Ethiopian coffee … What now? Well, it’s time to brew your freshly roasted beans! The good news is that there are a few of ways you can go about getting the best from Ethiopian coffee beans.

The first is with a pour over coffee maker, which allows for more control during the brewing process. Since Ethiopian coffee beans are so flavorful, you want to brew them in a way that extracts those flavors. Pour over does just that. As slow as it is, you’ll get to extract every one of those bright, fruity aromas that these beans are known for.

If pour over doesn’t appeal to you, brewing with a drip coffee maker is another option. For best results, you should only use freshly ground coffee beans when you make drip. Yet another option is to use a home espresso machine. While some of you might not love single origin espresso, I’ve had great results using Ethiopian coffees this way.

If you really want to stick to tradition, you can always prepare your coffee over the stovetop in a jebena. With this method, the coffee “cooks” on the stove, and you can serve it with a little bit of sugar or salt.

Yes, you heard that last one right – some people prefer a dash of salt in their Ethiopian coffee.

Of course, Ethiopian coffee doesn’t have to come piping hot in an insulated coffee mug or coffee thermos. These beans are capable of making great cold brew, especially if you’ve got a batch with a fruitier, sweeter flavor profile.

Ethiopian Coffee FAQ

Why does Ethiopian coffee taste different?

Ethiopian coffee beans grow at higher altitudes, which mean they take longer to mature and produce more complex flavors.

Is Ethiopian coffee the best in the world?

The growing conditions of Ethiopian coffee beans certainly make them a contender for being some of the best coffee beans in the world.

What kind of coffee comes from Ethiopia?

Arabica coffee comes from (and originated in) Ethiopia.

Do you put milk in Ethiopian coffee?

No, you don’t typically add milk if you brew Ethiopian coffee in the traditional way.

Is Ethiopian coffee high in caffeine?

Ethiopian coffee tends to have a standard amount of caffeine for an Arabica bean.


When was coffee first cropped in 850? ›

850AD - An Ethiopian Legend. No one knows exactly how or when coffee was discovered, though there are many legends about its origin. Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

In what century the Ethiopian goat herder discovers coffee by noticing it has high caffeine when the goat eats berries and becomes blush? ›

Story. In the 9th century a goat herder named Kaldi from Kaffa noticed that when his goats were nibbling on the bright red berries of a certain bush, they became very energetic, Kaldi then chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to the nearest place of worship in the village.

Who owns Kaldi 850 coffee? ›

Kaldi's co-owner Tyler Zimmer is a certified “Q Grader,” the closest thing to a coffee sommelier. As such, his palate is rarely questioned.

How might a goat have led to the discovery of coffee? ›

An Ethiopian Legend

There, legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans. The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night.

What does the Bible say about coffee? ›

Svigel argues there are a number of references to coffee in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the verses Isaiah 51 and 52 exalt the reader to "Awake! Awake!" and "Put on strength!", which is developed further in 51:17 with a reference to "trembling" and "draining".

How much was a cup of coffee in the 50s? ›

So, yes, you may have been able to buy a cup of coffee for a nickel in 1950, but a nickel was worth considerably more back then (about 50 cents in today's dollars).

Who is the largest coffee distributor in the world? ›

The largest coffee company in the world is Starbucks, with a revenue of $29.061 billion and a U.S. market share of 33%.

What is the oldest coffee company in the world? ›

Established in 1720, Caffè Florian is the oldest continuously-operated coffee house in the world. It was the only coffeehouse that allowed women and was thus patronized by dignitaries like Charles Dickens, Casanova, and Lord Byron.

Does Hugh Jackman own a coffee company? ›

Laughing Man Coffee, a coffee brand founded by actor Hugh Jackman, has opened Laughing V cafe in NYC's exclusive Tribeca neighborhood, the company's first vegan business venture.

What were goats original purpose? ›

Early goat domestication was able to provide meat, milk, clothing and fuel for Neolithic farmers and their remains could also have been used to build shelters and weapons.

When was goat first used as greatest of all time? ›

In September 1992, Ali's wife Lonnie incorporated G.O.A.T. Inc., a company created as an umbrella for all the boxer's intellectual properties used for commercial purposes. The acronym's usage is now widely accepted by word professionals as the first time it actually meant “Greatest of All Time.”

How does coffee impact the economy? ›

The coffee industry is responsible for 1,694,710 jobs in the US economy. The coffee industry generates nearly $28 billion in taxes (including ancillary goods)

What is special about Ethiopian coffee? ›

Ethiopian coffee is famous for its exquisite, single-origin coffee beans and for being the birthplace of this beloved brew. So superior is Ethiopian coffee beans that they have earned the title of greatest single-origin specialty coffee beans in the world.

What is unique about Ethiopian coffee? ›

For hundreds of years, Ethiopia has provided some of the world's best reviewed single origin premium coffee beans. In general, Ethiopian coffees are best known for their complexity with a pungent, winey quality and a distinct wildness in their acidity.

What are some of the challenges facing coffee farmers in Ethiopia? ›

Ethiopia farmers are facing challenges, including increasingly erratic rainfall, rising temperatures, poor management of coffee trees, fluctuation of coffee prices and degradation of soil, that are adversely affecting their income opportunities the country's coffee production.

Is it against Christianity to drink coffee? ›

If that sounds a little religious, it's no coincidence. Coffee is an acceptable vice. Unlike alcohol, which many evangelicals either abstain from or approach warily, coffee has been enthusiastically embraced.

Does God say not to drink coffee? ›

He encourages us to eat meat sparingly. God also cautions us to avoid certain substances, including coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco.

What is coffee God for? ›

“For most people, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy diet.” Hu said that moderate coffee intake—about 2–5 cups a day—is linked to a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson's disease, and depression.

What could you buy with $1 dollar in 1950? ›

$1 in 1950 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $12.32 in 2023.

What was the average grocery bill in 1950? ›

The average American family spent a little more than $800 on food, compared to more than $8,000 today. A hamburger would cost 12 cents back then, compared to $3.81 today. This would estimate to about 22% of the average family income in 1950.

How much did a pizza cost in 1950? ›

Pizza Hut Cheese Pizza

When college students Dan and Frank Carney opened a pizza place in Kansas in the late 1950s, a large pizza only cost $1.50, according to The Daily Meal. Now, a large hand-tossed cheese pizza at Pizza Hut goes for $14.99.

What is the number 1 coffee brand in America? ›

1Dunkin' DonutsJ.M. Smucker
2Green Mountain CoffeeKeurig Green Mountain
3FolgersJ.M. Smucker
4Seattle's BestStarbucks
3 more rows
Mar 18, 2014

What is the #1 coffee in the world? ›

#1: Panama

Panama Geisha is most frequently used among winners of the World Brewers Cup. The rare Geisha beans are also consistently the most expensive coffee at auctions.

Who makes McDonald's coffee? ›

Gaviña Coffee: A McDonald's Coffee Supplier | McDonald's.

What is the oldest coffee shop in the US? ›

America's first coffeehouse was established in 1676, in Boston. The Tontine Coffee House on Wall Street in New York is the origin of the New York Stock Exchange. It is the building with the flag on it in this 1797 oil-on-linen painting by Francis Guy (1760–1820).

What is the largest coffee chain in the US? ›

Starbucks had 15,450 units in the U.S. in 2021, making it the leading coffee house and cafe chain in the United States in terms of units. Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Hortons followed in the ranking with 9,244 and 637 units, respectively.

What is the richest coffee brand? ›

Kopi Luwak is the world's most exclusive and expensive coffee. The reason behind its high price is how it is made. Notably, the name Kopi Luwak is not the name of the coffee but the method of production.

What company owns Folgers coffee? ›

Folgers Coffee joined The J.M. Smucker Company's family of brands in 2008, where it has continued to be America's beloved coffee brand.

Who is the biggest coffee producer company? ›

Biggest companies in the Coffee Production industry in the US. IBIS World covers 5 companies in the Coffee Production in the US industry, including J.M. Smucker Co, Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., Nestle Sa, Kraft Heinz Co and Starbucks Corporation.

Who brought the first goat to America? ›

Goats were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent and then spread throughout the world. Goats were brought to North America into the southwestern U.S. in the 17th century by early Spanish explorers and clergy. These goats are the ancestors of the Spanish goat of Texas and the Lamancha breed of California.

What are 3 things we get from goats? ›

Goats are important producers of meat, milk, fiber, and other products. However, goats are also raised or kept for a wider range of uses, such as brush control, livestock shows, packing, and as lively companions. About 4 of 10 small- scale goat operations (42.4 percent) focused primarily on meat production.

Who was the first person called goat? ›

Earl Manigault (September 7, 1944 – May 15, 1998) was an American street basketball player who was nicknamed "The Goat".
Earl Manigault
Other namesThe Lip
OccupationStreet basketball player
4 more rows

Why goat is called greatest of all time? ›

The hashtag you see trending on social media all the time, often with a ram's head icon, stands for Greatest of All Time. And its origins can be traced back to a sportsperson who has as strong a claim as any at the title. That sportsperson was the great boxer and great activist Muhammad Ali.

When did the goat term became popular? ›

himself: Muhammad Ali. In his time, the boxer was popularly nicknamed “The Greatest,” which his wife then turned into G.O.A.T. for publicity in the 1990s. By 2000, the term had become popular enough in the rap scene that LL Cool J named his album G.O.A.T.

Why is it called goat? ›

GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time. GOAT is an internet slang initialism used to compliment athletes, musicians, or other celebrities.

Who controls coffee prices? ›

Today, large-scale coffee importers and roasters purchase coffee futures and options in order to protect their stocks' worth through the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange in New York City (originally established as the New York Coffee Exchange in the 1880s), which sets coffee prices according to the New York "C" ...

What country produces the best quality coffee in the world? ›

Colombia is probably the world's best-known coffee producer and ranks second worldwide in yearly production. A high standard of excellence is maintained with great pride and careful growing on thousands of small family farms across the country.

How big is the coffee market in the US? ›

Revenue in the Coffee segment amounts to US$95.58bn in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 3.51% (CAGR 2023-2025). In global comparison, most revenue is generated in the United States (US$95,580.00m in 2023).

When did coffee become a cash crop? ›

By the 18th century, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Dutch leaders had made coffee one of its top colonial cash crops, along with sugar, cotton and tobacco.

When was coffee 25 cents? ›

Luxury restaurants of the 1890s, such as Delmonico's, were likely to charge 25 cents for coffee, a sum that would buy a whole dinner in a common lunch room. The importance of coffee to restaurants grew in the 20th century, especially at popular-priced eateries where the price of a cup remained 5 cents.

When was coffee 10 cents a cup? ›

Coffee was only available for 10 cents a cup during the early 1950s.

How old is a coffee tree when it produces its first crop? ›

From 4-8 weeks it develops into a seedling and after 3 years the tree will start to grow their fruit known as cherries. After another 3 years, the tree will be full with fruit and ready for harvesting. This is usually done in bulk coffee plantations in over 50 coffee producing countries around the world.

Who drank coffee first? ›

Believed to have originated in Ethiopia, coffee was used in the Middle East in the 16th century to aid concentration.

Who brought coffee to America? ›

The first mention of coffee in the US dates back to 1668. It was brought to New Amsterdam (now New York) either by the Dutch or by the British. To this day, debates persist over where the first coffeehouse in the US was founded, but most argue it was either Boston or New York.

Is Mcdonald's coffee still $1 any size? ›

$0.99 for Any Size Coffee*

Valid 1x/day. Refer to McD app for details.

What is the oldest coffee shop in America? ›

America's first coffeehouse was established in 1676, in Boston. The Tontine Coffee House on Wall Street in New York is the origin of the New York Stock Exchange. It is the building with the flag on it in this 1797 oil-on-linen painting by Francis Guy (1760–1820).


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