Back to the origins of coffee: Trip to Ethiopia
Christmas and the cold are here, days are short and the sun goes away early in the Québécois sky at 4:30PM to let the dark nights out… We’ll have to be patient to see again the long and beautiful summer days where the sun just didn’t want to leave us. While we wait to re-experience these marvelous warmth moments, I propose to you a trip to meet a country, where the roots of coffee were born: Ethiopia. Portrait.
Ancestral coffee origins:
Ethiopia is the second most important country in Africa in terms of population, with around 94 million citizens. It is not only a dry and deserted land, but also a region of the world to discover for it’s treed zones in central and west Ethiopia. These specific zones allow themselves to truly develop coffee cultivation. According to the legend, it is in this country that humans discovered the properties of this particular plant. These plants would grow in the highlands before humans occupied it.
An economy that has a coffee smell:
Since, the coffee cultivation is preponderant. As an Ethiopian saying goes, « Buna dabo naw » (coffee is our bread). Globally, coffee allows 1 or 2 people out of 10 to survive. At the end of the 90’s, Ethiopia is hit by the global coffee crisis. The historically low coffee prices discouraged local coffee producers, who preferred to concentrate on the cultivation of the Khat (characteristic plant of East Africa). The year of 2005-2006 saw a slow and steady rebirth of the coffee prices after the crisis. Today, it stays the principal product exported of the country, despite a very strong consumption regionally equivalent to 50% of the production. Sixth biggest global exporter, Ethiopia became the first coffee producer on the African continent, instead of the Ivory Coast, where the production has diminished greatly, because of the political conditions in the West of the country. Four countries buy 60% of the coffee exported by Ethiopia: Germany (26,5%), Saudi Arabia (14,3%), Japan (12,2%), Belgium (7,2), USA (7,2%). Then comes: France (5%), Soudan (4,6%) and other countries like Italy, South Korea, Sweden or Great Britain.
The best Arabica in the world for Café Liégeois:
The best Ethiopian coffee is cultivated in the shade of native trees in the rare forests in altitude, this allows the cherry of the coffee to stay hydrated until it is ready to be picked. Ethiopia is the only country in the world where coffee grows in this manner, in a form of complicity with nature. According to European importers, the Ethiopian beans are known as the best Arabica’s in the world. The varieties are very regionalized and controlled: Harar, Jimma, Limu, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe. Even though an official certification doesn’t exist, 95% of the Ethiopian production is estimated biologic. Like other abroad producers, Café Liégeois is concentrating on the local producers of Yirgacheffe, south of the country.
The future of coffee: Afterwards?
Besides coffee, the future of Ethiopia is going towards new horizons resembling energy. With an increasing 10%growth this year, the major task for the country will be to have electricity and renewable energies. Following COP21, Ethiopia has engaged itself to reduce close to 2/3 of its green house gas emissions from now to 2030.