Coffee Growing Regions – Africa

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The earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking originated in Africa in the middle of the fifteenth century. The energizing effect of the coffee bean was first discovered by natives of Ethiopia. Today, there are four major regions in Africa known for growing coffee: Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and, to a lesser, extent Yemen. Each region has its own altitude, soil type, climate, and method of harvesting which produces coffee that has its own unique flavor. In general, a good coffee growing climate offers moderate sunshine and rain, as well as a steady temperature around 70° F.

Known as the birth place of coffee, Ethiopia is Africa’s leading exporter of Arabica beans. The Harrar bean is the most widely produced bean and comes from small farms in the Eastern part of the country. The first-known wild Arabica coffee tree was discovered in Ethiopia and even today, many coffee drinkers describe Ethiopian coffee as having a wild potency and strong aroma. Ethiopian coffee can have a heavy body, winey or fruit-like acidity, and a wild or earthy taste in the cup. I would recommend anybody that wants to have a natural coffee tasting experience to try Ethiopian coffee. The J Martinez Ethiopian Harrar Horse is a great example of a good coffee produced from this region.

Most coffee drinkers are familiar with Kenyan coffee. The high plateaus throughout Kenya, plus the stable climate and acidic soil, provide excellent coffee growing conditions that produce very intriguing flavor characteristics. Although there are some variance in the flavor characteristics of Kenyan coffee, most will agree that coffee coming from this region has bright acidity with a distinctive dry, winey aftertaste. Some Kenyan coffee also has detectable citrus tones to it. For a good Kenyan coffee, try Kenya AA by J Martinez .

An up-and-coming coffee, Tanzania beans are starting to rival Kenyan coffee in popularity. Tanzania coffee displays many of the same qualities as its Kenyan counterpart. Most of the Tanzanian Arabica coffee, such as the prized Tanzania Peaberry coffee is grown on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru. In general, a good Tanzania coffee will have bright acidity and strong flavors. Most Tanzanian coffee share the characteristically sharp, winey acidity typical of Kenyan coffee. It also tends to be medium to full-bodied and fairly rich in flavor. A great example of a quality Tanzanian coffee is J Martinez Tanzania Kilimanjaro Peaberry . This coffee has a fruity taste and heavy body.

Not to be confused with mocha flavored coffee, the Yemen Mocha coffee is one of the oldest beans in the world. Yemen coffee does indeed have its own natural “mocha” characteristics and the stronger you make the coffee, the more clearly you will taste the "chocolate" flavors. I often use Yemen Mocha Java by Supreme Bean as an espresso base for lattes. Yemen Mattari is another great alternative and along with the chocolate overtones this coffee offers a wine-like brightness.

Since the coffee tree originated in Africa, many people consider coffee from this region to be true coffee tasting experience. Whether it is the wild flavor of a true Ethiopian coffee or the natural chocolate tones of a good Yemen coffee you should try an African coffee in your morning cup of Joe. Please feel free to share your experiences with African coffee by commenting on this blog. Also please feel free to comment on my blog about the South American coffee region .

Darren Ruffell

Sales Manager

Categories Coffee and Espresso

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