Posts Tagged ‘Fairtrade coffee’

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Coffee Profile: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

Ethiopian – Yirgacheffe

Not too long ago I began to design a tattoo as the urge for a new one had started to grow. I started to think about what I wanted it to represent and inevitably found myself reflecting on the last thirty years of my life. I decided that I wanted the end result to be a manifestation of my origins, where I came from and the foundations that made me who I am. I haven’t booked the appointment yet, I’m still working on it, but the theme of the last month has been my roots, origins, beginnings and how I got to be sitting here writing this article. So, naturally it seems fitting to be reviewing the birth place of coffee – Ethiopia.

As the story goes, in Kaffa Ethiopia AD850, a goat herder observed his goats getting a little silly after they grazed on a native cherry. Kaldi, being the enterprising young goat herder he was, consequently knew he was onto a good thing. The rest of this particular tale is going to take way too long to tell in its entirety so let’s fast track it a bit. Coffea Arabica has been growing wild in Ethiopia since the dawn of time and is known by the Ethiopian people as “buna”. The coffee industry is the seventh largest producer in the world and employs well over 12 million people in some 350,000 farms located in the regions of Harar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Limmu and Djimmah. The traditional way that Ethiopians grow their coffee are included in certifications such as Fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and certified organic. The grading system there just recently got a shake up by the introduction of the “Q” grading system for specialty coffees. Up until now coffees would be graded as based on its process; wet receiving a grade 1-3 and dry processed receive a 4-5. Now many coffees can be submitted to a second of round of scrutinising based on cup quality and further grading to receive a specialty coffee classification.

Yirgacheffe holds the title in the wet processed division of coffees. They are renowned for their clean cup with powerful floral and fruit notes, but it can be a little hit and miss sometimes when cupping a pooled style coffee such as this (coffee that is sourced from all over one region and not from a specific farm), but when you strike a good lot of Yirgacheffe it will knock you out quicker than Danny Green. Beginning with sublime aromas of sweet sugary honey and hints of cedar and raisin, it is then followed by a well balanced floral acidity in the cup. The flavours are very up front and straight away there is berry, citrus and soft cocoa with a subtle underlining of Mediterranean herbs. Theses flavours are on the bright side but they bring a well toned smoothness and medium body to the pallet, and as the cup cools the aromatic herbs come to the forefront.

Ethiopian coffee has long been used as the main flavour component in espresso blends, but the Yirgacheffe I feel, is wasted in a blend because there is so much to explore when cupping it alone. However, if you want to add a little extra pizzazz and flavour to your cup it will defiantly add an extra dimension to any blend.

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Ugandan coffee may disappear in 30 years – Oxfam

A story just in from Reuters Kampala, written by Frank Nyakairu, reports that changing weather patterns in Uganda may lead to the extinction of the east African country’s key export, coffee, in coming decades.

The story goes on to explain that Uganda is Africa’s second biggest coffee producer after Ethiopia and has become a major player in robusta coffee production after political unrest in former top grower Ivory Coast slashed output.

“The outlook is bleak. If the average global temperatures rise by two degrees or more, then most of Uganda is likely to cease to be suitable for coffee..this may happen in 40 years or perhaps as little as 30,” the report said. (more…)

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

East Timor – Fair Trade Coffee

BrothersJo Jouin, former director Sydney’s Toby’s Estate Coffee made a visit to East Timor in late 2004 to look at local conditions. Crema magazine asked Jo to tell us of her experiences.

From the moment we stepped off the plane at Dili airport on the northern side of East Timor we were struck by the warmth and friendliness of the Timorese people.

The children were very accepting of us and we quickly learnt some basic Portuguese language skills – ‘Bon dia‘ for hello and ‘obrigado for thank you. Initially most people were very shy but as we took some polaroid photos and showed the magic of developing the photos, the ice was broken and laughter rang out.

The extent of the poverty really became apparent as we moved up to the mountains. We were invited into the traditional thatched home of one influential and important family from the guerilla movement. There were no possessions. Nothing, just the clothes on their back and a mat to sleep on. (more…)

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Tasting notes from Uganda and the sadly elusive Bugisu AA single origin arabica

Uganda is not only home to the endangered Mountain Gorilla and Jose Chameleon (Africa’s answer to Ricky Martin); but is also the 7th largest coffee producer in the World and 2nd largest in Africa, simply due to the massive quantity of Robusta the country grows.  (more…)