Ethiopia Gedeb – the homeland of coffee


Ethiopia (Gedeb) – the homeland of coffee

The knowledge about Ethiopia is probably not too big. It is well known that this is a country in Africa, it is certainly hot, rather poor and modest. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that when we reach for a cup of coffee in the morning, our thoughts may be directed to this African state. Ethiopia is not only one of the largest producers of coffee in the world, but also the place from which it originates.

Ethiopia Gedeb Natural

All our knowledge of coffee begins with the legend of shepherd Kaldi. He lived, apparently, in the ninth century AD and looked after goats. One day he noticed that the animals that grazed on the hill are extremely agitated and lively. He decided to follow them and observe their habits. It turned out that they eagerly eat fruit from certain trees. Kaldi collected some of this fruit and went to a nearby monastery, where the monk, interested in this discovery, began to process it in various ways – cooking, brewing, fermenting and roasting. In this way a new drink was created, which gained the favor of the rest of the friars when it turned out that it helps them to persevere during long night prayers.

Was this really the case? Hmm … Italians have a saying: „se non e vero, e ben trovato” – „even if it is not true, it is well said”. Legends have more charm than dry facts, so you can assume that there is a grain of truth in that, nomen omen. The Ethiopian origin of the coffee tree is an undeniable fact. Even today, wild coffee trees can be found there, although most are grown on plantations. Coffee gives employment to around ¼ of the population of Ethiopia and is the main export product of this country. The low level of economic development, however, means that large, professional plantations account for only 15% of crops, while the rest falls on small, often family farms. Coffee has been cultivated in this way for centuries, it is harvested by hand and then processed „dry”. No artificial fertilizers or pesticides are used, no combines or irrigation systems – Ethiopia is simply too poor. The good point of this situation is that the coffee you receive is 100% natural. Add to this the ideal climatic conditions, good soil and centuries-old experience of Ethiopians, you get the highest quality product.

Coffee grown in Ethiopia is mostly arabica. It is distinguished mainly due to the region of origin. Just as the wine from the Bordeaux region is popularly called „Bordeaux”, and from the Champagne region it is in the polonised version of „champagne”, so also the coffee beans are named from the place they come from. Sidamo is the largest brewing site in Ethiopia. Like most high-quality African coffees, Ethiopian Sidamo has a deep, slightly spicy taste and notes of citrus fruits. Great coffee also comes from the Yirgacheffe region – it is alive, with clear notes of lemons and oranges. Personally, I consider her one of the best coffees in the world. The oldest growing region is Harrar (there, according to the legend, Kaldi „discovered” coffee). Coffee from there is characterized by full taste and slightly less acidity. It is amazing that in all these places the methods of growing a coffee tree and processing of its seeds have practically not changed since the tenth century. Imagine this! They have been doing it in the same way for 1000 years.

Although Gedeb is the „coffee locomotive” of Africa, and the coffee bean is the main export product, half of the coffee being cultivated is consumed on the spot. However, you will not drink there either a classic espresso or a latte. Truth be told, you’ll be surprised a little, but in Ethiopia, coffee is drunk with … salt and butter – in other words, like tea in Tibet. You can also choose the version a little more friendly for Europeans – with honey and spices. Some cafes serve coffee with milk (in the 1930s, Ethiopia was occupied by Italy and some traditions remained there). Coffee with lots of milk is bunna bettetand with a small amount of milk it makjato. However, it is the most popular bado bunna (literally: empty coffee), i.e. black coffee, as I said: either savory or honey. Interesting are also snacks called bunnakela. These are balls made of ground coffee, milk, fat and various additives.

Ethiopians love coffee and drink a lot of it. A popular proverb in this country that I would like to end this article is: if you have a worry – have a coffee, if you have reason to be happy – drink coffee, if you are tired – drink coffee.


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