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Ethiopian Coffee: Rich in Taste, Rich in History

    The Taste:

    Ethiopian coffees are best known for being complex with a fragrant, wine-like quality and a distinct acidity. Tasting notes often include fruit, nuts, and chocolate, but vary by region and processing method. The beans are processed in two ways: washed, or “wet processed” or naturally “dry processed”. The final taste of the coffee highly depends on which processing method is used.

    When coffee beans are wet-processed, the fruit that surrounds the coffee bean is removed immediately. These beans are characterized by their clear, clean flavors and flowery aroma. Dry processed coffees are dried with the fruit left on the bean, and the fruit pulp is not removed until just before the beans are packaged and exported. These beans are deeply infused with fruity notes, such as blueberry, and contain deep chocolate undertones with a sweeter body. Most coffee beans from Ethiopia are dry-processed as this method has been used for centuries. Wet processing is a relatively new process arising from recent technological developments.

    Ethiopian coffee beans are typically sold by their single-origin region, including the popular varieties of Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Harar.



    Sidamo coffee beans are grown in the province of Sidama within the Ethiopian highlands. At elevations of nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, the coffee beans are classified as “Strictly High Grown” (SHG) where the beans grow at a much slower rate. The coffee plants are given more time to soak in nutrients and cultivate the rich flavors that develop based on their local climate and soil quality.

    Sidamo coffee is balanced with distinct notes of citrus and berries with a bright, delicate acidity. The coffee hails from the province of Sidamo in the Ethiopian highlands at elevations from 4,900 up to 7,200 feet above sea level. At these elevations, the coffee beans can be qualified as “Strictly High Grown” (SHG). Here, the Ethiopian coffees grow more slowly and therefore have more time to absorb nutrients and develop bold, complex flavors based on the local climate and soil conditions.



    Yirgacheffe is a small region within the much regional state of Sidama in southern Ethiopia. Yirgacheffe coffee is often wet-processed and grown at elevations between 5,500 and 7,200 feet above sea level. These elevations qualify Yirgacheffe beans as Strictly High Grown (SHG) and Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) coffees, where the high altitude slows the coffee’s growth cycle. Just like Sidamo beans, this slow growth gives the coffee tree more time to provide nutrients for the coffee fruit, thus developing better flavors in the coffee bean.

    High quality wet-processed Yirgacheffe beans exhibit a clean taste, bright acidity, and floral notes with a hint of citrus. Depending on the roast level, dry-processed Yirgacheffe beans present a hearty fruitiness with underlying tones of nuts and cocoa.

    Try a batch of Reveille’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee to see for yourself!



    Harar (also known as Harrar) is a city in the highlands of eastern Ethiopia. Coffee beans in this region are grown on small farms at elevations between 4,600 and 6,600 feet above sea level and dry-processed with sorting and processing done nearly completely by hand. Although the process is performed manually, the workers are extremely well-informed on how each bean should be classified.

    Full-bodied and aromatic, Ethiopian Harar coffee beans are one of the oldest beans still produced and are known for their distinguished fruity tone that is reminiscent of red wines. It has a noticeable acidity with strong hints of blueberry, blackberry, and chocolate. The intensity of this type of bean makes it a popular choice for espresso blends, rather than as a stand-alone single-origin coffee. 

    • The Origin:

    Ethiopia is hailed as the birthplace of the coffee bean. According to an Ethiopian legend, a goatherder in the 9th-century named Kaldi discovered the coffee plant in the wild after noticing the energizing effect the plant had on his goats. Thus, coffee earned its original name, Kaffa, after the Kaffa region of southwest Ethiopia in which it was found. Unlike many countries that grow and export coffee, the coffee plant, Coffea Arabica, grows naturally in Ethiopia.

    Today, coffee is a fundamental part of Ethiopian culture and daily routines. Coffee ceremonies, in which the coffee is enjoyed with plenty of sugar, can take the form of an invitation for friendship, a sign of respect, or a social event for community discussions.

    • Social Impact:

    Ethiopia is the 5th largest coffee producing country in the world. The Ethiopian economy is highly reliant on the country’s coffee production, which makes up 19 percent of their main exports. Approximately 15 million Ethiopian workers depend on the coffee industry to make a living, including an estimated 600,000 independent farmers spread out among the remote areas of the country on small plots of land.

    Although the industry is so large, only about 5 to 10 percent of the price of commercially sold Ethiopian coffee actually goes back to Ethiopia, while commercial distributors and market intermediaries share most of the profits.

    At Reveille Trading Co., we pride ourselves on trading directly with small farms so that the money goes to the workers, not the middlemen. We work with family-owned farms and other specialty roasters to prioritize social wellbeing while supplying our high-quality coffee beans. To experience our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee for yourself, contact us today.

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