coffees from africa and the middle east
The home and origin of the coffee tree and the birthplace of the
drink of coffee, Ethiopia now stands at number five in the
list of world coffee producers.
It cultivates a wide range of Arabica coffees from trees which are
indigenous to the area. The best Ethiopian dry-processed coffee is
Harar, which tends to be medium-bodied and strongly acidic with
fruity, winy tones. The best wet-processed coffees are Yirgacheffe,
and Sidamo, which are light-bodied with wonderful floral and citrus
notes. Djimah is a popular wet or dry-processed bean with the
latter often exhibiting medicinal taste characteristics and as
such is not often traded as a speciality coffee.
Ghimbi is a wet-processed bean from western Ethiopia. Limu is the
market name for a well-respected fragrant, floral and fruit-toned
wet-processed coffee from south-central Ethiopia.
Just outside the top ten world coffee producers, Uganda has some
fine Arabica coffees which display the much favoured winy acidity
and other desirable flavour characteristics of the best
Some 90% of the crops are full-bodied Robustas, however, and are
especially good for blending – particularly espresso blends – and
highly suitable for soluble coffee production.
Bugishu, the market name for Arabica coffee from the
slopes of Mt. Elgon, is considered the best in coffee in
The Ivory Coast is the third largest African coffee producer –
mainly rich and strong Robustas.
The coffee is especially popular among soluble coffee
manufacturers, who appreciate the excellent extraction yield.
Much of Tanzanian Robusta coffee is grown on the slopes of
Mounts Kilimanjaro and Meru, close to the Kenyan border.
These coffees are called Kilimanjaro or named after the main towns
and shipping points Arusha, and Moshi. Smaller amounts of Arabica
are grown much farther south, between Lake Tanganyika and Lake
Nyasa, and are usually called Mbeya, after one of the principal
towns, or Pare, a market name.
The best Tanzanian coffee displays a rich flavour and full body,
with a classic winy acidity that makes them resemble the coffees of
Rich volcanic soils, high altitude and adequate rainfall all
ensure Cameroon is an ideal place for growing great coffee.
Small landowners, on small plots of volcanic land, grow most of it
and nearly all of it is grown on mixed-cropped farms. Cameroon
coffee is full-bodied, earthy, with a chocolate flavour, and has a
well-rounded finish and is unusual in that it is an Arabica coffee
from West Africa.
Caplami Java is probably the best known bean.
Due to their quality and perhaps also to aggressive advertising,
Kenyan coffee is regarded as amongst the best in the world.
Whilst most of the growing is by smallholders, the Arabica beans
are strictly government graded. Most of the beans are pooled and
processed, resulting in a ‘national blend’ strictly controlled by
the Coffee Board of Kenya. The beans are graded and the best is
known as PB or peaberry (referring to an Arabica variety that
produces a single bean rather than two half beans).
In terms of quality and size, AA is the best followed by A, and B.
Kenyan coffees have deep, winy acidity, with complex fruit and
berry tones. Of the world's great coffees, Kenya probably is the
most consistent in quality and most widely available. Hiriga,
Karimikui, Nyeri and Krinyaga are well known Kenyan coffee
The final country in our ‘league table’ is the island of
Madagascar. Over 700,000 bags are produced each year of both
Arabica and Robusta varieties.
The coffee is grown in many parts of the island and the celebrated
Kouillou coffee bean has a highly distinctive flavour and is highly
rated in France.
A country which falls well below the half million bags a
year production, but which must get a mention, is Yemen. Their
trees initially came across the Red Sea from Ethiopia and it is no
doubt from the Yemeni Arabs that the name 'Arabica'
The famous (and alternative) coffee name of ‘Mocha’ also came
from the Yemeni port of the same name, which was used as a main
trading point for coffee beans. Arabian Mocha is a single-origin
coffee from the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Red
Sea, in the mountainous regions of Yemen.
Probably the world's oldest cultivated coffee, it is distinguished
by its’ full body and distinctive rich, winy and acidic flavour.
Ismaili is another respected name for an excellent coffee from
central Yemen, as is Mattari. Sanani is a comprehensive market name
for coffees from several growing regions west of Sana'a, the
capital city. Yemeni beans are known for their rich, winy,
aroma and strong chocolate tones.