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Ethiopian Coffees

Ethiopian coffees have a very long history. Although coffee was first commercially produced for consumption in Yemen, Ethiopia is thought to be the origin of the Arabica coffee plant. Arabica coffee beans are the foundation of the gourmet coffee market and only a small number of gourmet coffees are made using any other type of bean.

One of the best Ethiopian coffees is known as Harrar. Ethiopian Harrars are typically dry-processed. In general this process is considered inferior to wet-processing but some coffees just seem to be made for dry-processing. Ethiopian Harrar and Brazilian Santos are two of those.

Ethiopian Harrars are what Ethiopians refer to as "garden coffees." This means that they are grown in small plots by villagers without the use of chemicals, using completely traditional methods. At its best, Ethiopian Harrar is fruity and complexly sweet, with a subtle, almost fermented aftertaste. It is truly one of the great and most distinctive gourmet coffee experiences in coffee world.

When shopping for Harrar, be aware that Harrar may be spelled Harari, Harer, or Harar. Another consideration is that Ethiopian Harrar has a very distinct flavor profile which is sometimes referred to as Mocha. This adds to the confusion because Ethiopian Harrar is often sold under the market name Mocha (or Moka). Unfortunately, the term Mocha has been quite abused by coffee exporters though and some coffees labeled Mocha are actually "Mocha Style" and may contain only a small number of Ethiopian coffee beans, if any at all. If a gourmet coffee is labeled as Mocha, be sure to check closely and make sure the coffee beans come from Ethiopia. In those cases, you should be getting a true Ethiopian Harrar. Thankfully, many retailers now label the Ethiopian version of Harrar (as opposed to the Yemen version of Harrar), Mocha Harrar.

Of course, Harrar isn't the only great coffee Ethiopia has to offer. In particular the region of Yirgacheffe is well known for making very good wet-processed gourmet coffees. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffees are typically flowery and bursting with citrus flavor. Indeed, many regard them as the most distinctive coffee in the world. Almost any other Ethiopian wet-processed gourmet coffees will have this same flavor profile but tend to be less intense than Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. They can still be excellently distinctive gourmet coffees, though.  

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