Africa & the Arabian Peninsula
Coffees from this growing region are the
most distinctive in the world, characterized by dry, winy acidity, chocolate and fruit
undertones, rustic flavors and intense aromas. Ethiopia is the native land of coffee, and
it was in Yemen that coffee was first cultivated and prepared.
Click on a name of a Country on the map to the right for more
information about that growing region.
Arabian Mocha, grown in the northern mountains of Yemen, is
one of the oldest and most traditional of the world's coffees. It is also one of the
finest. This coffee has been cultivated and processed in the same way for centuries, grown
on mountain terraces and naturally dried. No chemicals are used in its production, and it
is no doubt organic. Mocha is a balanced coffee with medium to full body, good acidity and
chocolate undertones. Two famous market names for this coffee are Mattari and Sanani.
Sanani mochas have a wild, fruity acidity, while Mattari mochas are known for their full
body and chocolate undertones.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of the arabica tree, and wild
berries are still harvested by tribes people in its mountains. In Eastern Ethiopia, coffee
trees are grown between 5,000 and 6,000 feet on small peasant plots and farms. These
coffees may be called longberry Harrar (large bean), shortberry Harrar (smaller bean) or
Mocha Harrar (peaberry or single bean). They are all cultivated simply, processed by the
traditional dry method, and are no doubt organic. Ethiopian Harrar is characterized by
winy and blueberry undertones, with good body and high acid.
Eastern Ethiopia produces a washed coffee called Ghimbi or
Gimbi, that has the winy undertones of Harrar, but can be richer, more balanced, and have
a heavier body and longer finish.
Southern Ethiopia produces washed coffees with fruity
acidity and intense aromas. These coffees are known by the names of the districts in which
they are produced, such as Sidamo, or by terms like Ethiopian Fancies or Ethiopian Estate
Grown. The most famous of these coffees is Yirgacheffe, which has an unparalled fruity
aroma, light and elegant body, and an almost menthol taste. This coffee is sought out by
many U.S. consumers.
Kenya works diligently to assure quality in all beans that
are exported. The coffee is cultivated on small farms, and the growers are rewarded with
high prices for quality beans. The main growing region in Kenya extends south of
17,000-foot Mt. Kenya to near the capital of Nairobi. Kenyan coffee is wet-processed and
sold by the size of the bean, with AA signifying the largest beans, followed by A and B.
The best Kenyan coffee, called Estate Kenya, can cost twice as much as regular AA's, but
is worth the price. The tremendous body, astounding winy acidity and black-current flavor
and aroma make Estate Kenya one of the finest coffees in the world.
Most Tanzanian coffees are grown near the border of Kenya on
the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and are sometimes referred to as Kilimanjaro, Moshi or
Arusha. Other coffees are grown further south between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa, and
are usually called Mbeya, after one of the region's cities or Pare, a market name. All
coffees are wet-processed and graded by bean size, with the highest grade being AA, then A
and B. Tanzanian coffees are characterized by a winy acidity, medium to full body, and
deep richness. Peaberries are often separated from flat beans and sold at a premium for
the enhanced flavor characteristics they possess.
Most of the coffee produced in Uganda is robusta, and is used
for instant coffee. Uganda does produce one fine arabica called either Bugishu or Bugisu,
and it is grown on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon on the Kenyan border. This coffee is
winy in its acidity, and similar to Kenyan coffee in flavor, though lighter in body.
Coffee is grown on medium-sized farms and is a less potent
version of Kenyan coffee, containing less acid and less body. The best come from the
Coffees produced in India have more in common with Indonesian
coffees than with coffees from Africa or the Arabian peninsula. Good Indian coffees are
grown in the states of Karnatka (formerly Mysore), Kerala, and Tamilnadu (formerly
Madras). In good years these coffees can contain acidity typical of Guatemalan coffee, and
the full body of a good Javanese coffee. In addition, these coffees incorporate the unique
spicy flavors of nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and pepper.
India also produces monsoon coffees, in which the green beans
have been exposed to the monsoon winds blowing through open warehouses during India's
rainy season. This process reduces acidity and enhances sweetness, making them similar to
Indonesian aged coffees.
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