Discovering Coffee in Ethiopia
Opening the first specialty cafe in Chamonix, France we believed specialty coffees should embody the origin country's character, similar to quality wines. Roasting is on the minds of many cafe owners; however, we couldnt get excited about buying beans form an importer in Europe. This didn't feel like it would bring our customers any closer to experiencing the origin countries. Farm to Cup is not simply about boosting local roasting but discovering the character and flavor of producing countries.
So, off to Ethiopia (the home of coffee) it was. Long story short (there is nothing short about travel in Africa) we found an enormous country that was beautiful, dusty and enchanting. Despite people's real hardships there were continuous smiles and welcomes.
Their obsession with coffee is real and indigenous. Interestingly this love of coffee feels totally divorced from the fact that the world loves their coffee. Coffee actually makes uo just over 35% of all exports from Ethiopia. Ethiopians dont just drink coffee but rather have daily (or more) coffee ceremonies which include several cups.
It is an understatement to say Ethiopians know coffee, this is the home of coffee and their lives are intertwined. We discovered that coming to just buy green beans was leaving behind a substantial part of the coffee experience in Ethiopia. Specialty coffee drinkers have been missing the whole experience.
The world is just discovering the benefits of Tef, a fine grain—about the size of a poppy seed. Ethiopians have however for generations have used this nutritious iron rich grain to make the national staple, Injera. Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture.
No discovery of Ethiopia is complete without experiencing Injera.
On nearly every corner, lobby, or open space you'll a jolly lady with her little coffee stand. Have a seat and watch her her brew up a rich bold cup in an Ethiopian coffee pot. If you're lucky you can get an explanation about the meaning and value of the different rounds of coffee poured from the pot. Just dont show up late, if you arrive for the 3rd round you'll have to wait to they start the process over. Not to worry rounds go quickly in Ethiopia.
It is not often you find a world-class tourist destination that isn’t over commercialized and tourist fatigue hasn’t set in with the locals. In Ethiopia you see the genuine enthusiasm from people happy to share their country and rightly proud that you would marvel at the many sites, sights and tastes on offer.
Steeping out in Ethiopia is guaranteed to bring unique discoveries and experiences. You will quickly understand why their coffee is such a rich blend of hardy and floral notes.
Reaching out to Help
While there are many hands reached out for assistance to the faranji (white foreingers) it is often Ethiopians reaching into their pockets. Being a good person is deeply ingrained in their culture. Their religious commitment is also proudly on display as well as their inclusive and inquisitive mindset. Whether it is modern day peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians or ancient places of Christian worship that incorporate crosses and motifs from around the ancient world.
We first met Dawit from Aster Bunna on a trip to Ethiopia in early 2018. Having met a whole host of different people, on the last day of our trip - we met Dawit.
We immediately hit it off with him when he demonstrated the passion he has and began exploring ways we could work together to bring Origin Roasted coffee directly from Ethiopia to the world.
Their family has been in the coffee growing business for 50 years. Dawit's father was instrumental in establishing Kochere as a internationally known growing region with Yirgacheffe. Dawit's mother, Aster, founded "Aster Bunna" 20 years ago as a cafe and roastery in Addis Ababa.
Dawit is taking on the family coffee business and eager to expand beyond the confines of serving his family's coffee outside of Ethiopia. Trained as Q grader and exports green coffee beans around the globe. Studied in the USA so merges extensive local coffee knowledge with regard to the international taste profiles.