A quick note on Ethiopia
With our newest Ethiopian from Kayon Mountain in I wanted to drop a note about my experiences in Ethiopia. A lot of our favorite coffees come from Ethiopia, and I would say that is true for 90% of coffee roasters. They're exotic and unique, unlike any other coffees in the world. Generally speaking, quality coffee is synonymous with really knowledgeable farmers and advanced agronomy and processing techniques. Visiting Ethiopia really shocked this idea, and drove home the importance of soil.
Coffee evolved in Ethiopia, and all coffee comes from strains in this region. Visiting farms here I was really surprised to see how much of the flavors I've come to love in Ethiopian coffee are a result mainly of this ideal climate ad soil. Many of the farms had very little knowledge of agronomy practices compared to Latin American farmers. They weren't pruning trees systematically, planting mainly government approved varieties, and doing little nutrition management. But their coffee was fantastic! The buyer from Sweden who I was traveling with made the comment that if we would take a Colombian coffee farmer and give them soil like this, the results could be incredible!
So, the potential in Ethiopia is still enormous. Farmers are starting to hire agronomists, keep better track of coffee as it moves from the field through processing (micro-lot work), and understand the importance and benefits of practices like pruning and spacing trees appropriately. Ethiopians as a general rule are an unusually friendly group of people, good natured and open hearted. The coffee is fantastic already. Working with farmers like Ismal at Kayon Mountain and seeing him adapting more micro-lot practices; tracing coffee in individual plots picked on specific days through the entire process gets me excited about how much better the coffee here can get!