How Are Ethiopians Beans… Different?!

display of ethiopian coffee beans

Coffee has grown to be an extremely profitable and competitive commodity, worldwide. Ethiopia is not the world’s top producer of coffee, but they are the top producer in Africa.

The process for cultivating and processing coffee beans varies for different regions, which in turn may account for some of the key notes that each coffee bean possesses.

Coffee from Ethiopia is known for its distinctive fruit notes, robust body, and aroma. There are several varieties of coffee produced in Ethiopia.

Each region has a distinct taste profile. Coffee grown in the mountainous regions of the country have a more robust flavor, due to the high altitudes and dense growth.

There are many different coffee beans that grow in Ethiopia. While coffee may be cultivated and processed in a variety of ways, it mostly grows wild throughout the country.

Farmers will harvest these wild plants, sometimes not really knowing exactly what variety of coffee bean they may have picked. This adds to the distinct flavor profile of coffee from Ethiopia.

Dry Roasted VS Wet Roasted Ethiopian Coffee Beans

Distinctions are also derived from the processing of the Ethiopian coffee beans, and the region in which the coffee was grown. There are two different roasting practices that are widely used in Ethiopia.

One such practice is known as the “dry” or “natural” process. Once the coffee cherries are hand-picked, they are dried with the flowers and cherry in-tact.

This process relies heavily on the sun allowing the coffee bean to separate from the pulp, and the layers covering the coffee bean itself.

This process results in a more fruit or wine taste. The dry process also provides more acidity, which can be harder on some people’s stomachs. This roasting practice takes place mostly in the eastern region.

The western region of Ethiopia is known for “wet”, or “washed processing”. This is relatively new to Ethiopia, and probably evolved when they began exporting their coffee approximately ten years ago.

With this method, the cherry is picked and the coffee bean is pulled prior to drying. This will result in a more vibrant flavor, and a less fruitful taste.

Wet processed coffee is revered for having a stronger and bolder flavor. It is mostly processed with more conventional ways, using machines to de-pulp the coffee bean.

Ethiopian Coffee Origin

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It is important to note that Ethiopian farmers do not use any chemicals on their crops. This is mostly due to most coffee being grown in the wild.

Regardless of how the coffee is grown and processed, one main distinction with coffee from Ethiopia is that their coffee grows wild in most areas, compared to coffee from other countries in the world.

A consumer who purchases a batch of coffee from Ethiopia will be buying coffee from a single region. There are three main regions from which coffee is produced for sale.

The Sidamo region produces Yirgacheffe, which is the most sought after among the different Ethiopian coffees. This coffee is roasted with “wet processing”, and is located in the southern region of Ethiopia. Harrar coffee is produced in the eastern region of Ethiopia, and is roasted using the natural process.

Ghimbi is in the western part of the country, and wet processing is used here, just like with Yirgacheffe. This coffee will have a heavier, more balanced body than Harrar coffee.

Ethiopian Coffee Is Less Conventional

With evolving technologies, farmers throughout the world have managed to find better ways to harvest their crops, with bigger and better machinery.

Other coffee producing countries often adhere to strict regulations that are put in place by their own individual governments. Rules are put in place as to where and how coffee is produced.

Farmers may be required to hold certain licenses that regulate processes, starting from where and how the coffee is planted, to how the plant is then harvested.

Ethiopia has stayed true to the centuries-old process of picking by hand. Coffee is held in high regard in the country. They are known for their “coffee ceremonies” that are held several times a day.

These ceremonies are a ritual within the Ethiopian culture, and to be invited to attend one of these ceremonies is a testament of respect and friendship.


The consumption of Ethiopian coffee provides an array of flavors not found in other regions of the world. Their methods of producing coffee, compared to more rigorous practices in other parts of the world, may be unconventional to most, but should be respected regardless.

Many baristas have showcased coffee from Ethiopia as a high-quality beverage to be appreciated. The country stands out as one of the best coffee producing countries of the world.