You might have heard that coffee grows all over the world, but did you know that it was first cultivated in Ethiopia? The word ‘coffee’ is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic word quwwa ("power, energy"), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia. Indeed, coffee was first exported out of Ethiopia to Yemen by Somali merchants.
There are several legendary accounts of the origin of the consumption of coffee. According to one legend, ancestors of today's Kafficho people in the Kingdom of Kaffa were the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant. One account involves a 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi, who, noticing the stimulating effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed, causing other monks to come and investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world's first cup of coffee.
Despite the origins of coffee cultivation in Ethiopia, the country produced only a small amount for export until the twentieth century, and much of that not from the south of the country (where Kaffa is located) but from the environs of Harar in the Northeast. The Kingdom of Kaffa, home of the plant, was estimated to produce between 50,000 and 60,000 kilograms of coffee beans in the 1880s.
Interestingly enough, the growing of the coffee tree is not cultivated nor maintained, the coffee grows wild in the middle of deep forests, between 1,400 to 2,100 meters above sea level. Kaffa is thus a forest coffee but can also be found as a semi-forest coffee – meaning people trim the trees and thin the canopy on the edges of the forests to boost the plant's growth. Another specificity of Kaffa coffee is its natural protection against diseases, especially the fungus that is devastating coffee plantations.
Why am I telling you all this? Well firstly we are very proud of the long heritage of cultivating this noble plant that is coffee. This tradition and the region of Ethiopia now known as S.N.N.P.R where the previous province of Kaffa was located is where our Kaffa beans originate from. We were so lucky to have met a local producer who, through his cooperative, is able to offer us beans from high quality trees in Ethiopia, a well guarded coffee treasure trove.
So what does this all mean? It means there’s a long tradition of cultivating coffee and knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation of farmers. Armed with this deep knowledge of both tradition and with some modern roasting techniques, we are able to offer an Arabica strain coffee which we find to have a bright body flavour profile and also possess a satisfying amount of acidity. It also tends to have a multi-layered intricacy of flavours and aromas. But don't let us tell you how it tastes, have a cup and tell us what you think :)