Did you know, a quick search on Wikipedia tells us that…
The history of coffee goes at least as far back as the 10th century, with a number of reports and legends surrounding its first use. The native (undomesticated) origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia, and more specifically, the region of Yirgacheffe.
There are several folklores surrounding the discovery of the world’s first energy drink, including.
One such account involves the Yemenite Sufi mystic Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili. When traveling in Ethiopia, the legend goes, he observed birds of unusual vitality, and, upon trying the berries that the birds had been eating, experienced the same vitality.
Other accounts attribute the discovery of coffee to Sheik Abou’l Hasan Schadheli’s disciple, Omar. According to the ancient chronicle (preserved in the Abd-Al-Kadir manuscript), Omar was once exiled from Mocha to a desert cave near Ousab. Starving, Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubbery, but found them to be bitter. He tried roasting the beans to improve the flavour, but they became hard. He then tried boiling them to soften the bean, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized and sustained for days. As stories of this “miracle drug” reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint.
Finally, and a probably fanciful account involves a 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder, Kaldi, who, noticing the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed, causing other monks to come and investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee.
Whatever the real story was, it’s fair to say coffee as a drink is now a huge commodity, both in terms of export value and consumption. Such is its value, coffee is grown and consumed throughout the world. But despite this expansion, coffee beans from the small region of Yirgacheffe, the very birthplace of coffee, are still considered one of the most sort after beans in the world.
So what makes this part of the world one of the best areas for producing high quality coffee beans? It turns out there are a number of reasons.
The Yirgacheffe Difference
Firstly, Environment – the Yirgacheffe is located at high altitude, with an elevation between 1,880 and 1,919 meters above sea level. This, coupled with the high level of preservation of its natural environment, makes the Yirgacheffe a prime habitat for coffee plantations. Unlike many other crops, coffee is often grown under the forest canopy, so trees do not require felling to make way for coffee plantations, and in Yirgacheffe you’ll find 90% of the coffee gardens within these forests, co-existing in a kind of symbolic relationship.
Secondly, Farming Techniques – did you know, the same traditional Ethiopian coffee cultivation practices are still being practiced by Yirgacheffe coffee farmers, and the coffee trees are carefully fertilized using only organic matter. The use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides is strictly forbidden. What foresight!
Community Organisation – at present, the region contains 12 organic qualified coffee cooperatives yielding over 6,946 tons of washed and 13,892 sundry coffees yearly. With all these cooperatives, Yirgacheffe has empowered their farmers and local communities to have better control over their destinies.
For all of the above reasons, Yirgacheffe coffee is not just ranked the best among the other coffees in the world, but also in Ethiopia itself.
Expect a bright, medium-to-light-bodied coffee with winy, berry undertones, distinct floral tones in the aroma, an intense and complex flavour that is clean and flowery, and a vibrant finish.
Ethiopian Yirgacheffes reveal hints of chocolate and fragrant notes of citrus, perhaps tangerine, and also nutty. Finer Yirgacheffes may have a charming toasted coconut aroma.