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Africa & The Middle East
It's quite a trek by camel caravan heading due southwest from Addis across rocky, mountainous terrain. If you remember your history - pay attention - coffee was first discovered in the southern regions of Ethiopia, now part of the Kaffa province. What an honor to visit the motherland of coffee, which is today Africa's largest producer of Arabica beans and Ethiopia's largest employer.
Coffee here never disappoints. Delicious. Wild coffee cherries are still harvested in the mountains by tribes' people. I truly believe that one has not lived until they try Ethiopian Yergachffe coffee. Its sweet berry notes completely intoxicate and overwhelm me with its sweet loveliness. One taste and you will be under Ethiopia's spell. I am.
Ranked 6th in the world.*
Best known varietals: Ethiopian Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo.
To gaze the slopes of Kilimanjaro! Kenya has become an African coffee powerhouse with a significant crop of Arabica beans. Coffees here share many characteristics of the region, with a bright, vibrant and winey taste, but these beans stand apart with richer, deeply fruity notes as well.
Best known varietals: SL 28, Bourbon, Kents, Ruiru II.
Around the other side of Kilimanjaro, Tanzanian wet-processed coffees are giving Kenya a run for its money.
Best known varietals: Typica/ Nyara, Arusha, Bourbon, Kents, Blue Mountain.
Uganda grows huge quantities of Robusta, indigenous to the region and much of it wild. The improving political situation and relations with neighboring port countries has allowed more of the precious few Arabicas to move for export as well.
Ranked 10th in the world.* (Mostly Robusta)
Best known varietals: Typica, Kents, Bugisu.
Across the sea from Ethiopia, I trek once again from the Yemeni city of Al Mokha (a.k.a. Mocha. Sound familiar?) northward on one of my odorous, humped friends into the highlands where Arabs first cultivated coffee. The growers here dry-process a hearty bean for a bright, spicy brew.
Best known varietals: Mocha.