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  • Writer's pictureCoffee Beans and Blends

Ethiopian Discoveries

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One of the early beans we experimented with roasting, was an Ethiopian 'Yirgacheffe' and that was early days before realising how many different regions and coffee labels come from Yirgacheffe! It probably started to dawn when a barista at a coffee shop in the city knew of our interest in coffee gave us a sample bag of some beans he had roasted. He also knew our preference for milder naturally sweeter coffee and reckoned we'd like this one. He was so right! Handwritten on the bag was the name of the beans ...

Time and the barista both moved on (as did the coffee!) but we kept the bag, intending to get some of the beans and try roasting them ourselves. In our ignorance, however, we could not work out what that name was! It looked like kouture or koutune or koutv?e or even Itoutvre ... but of course Google was unable to assist with any of those. Eventually, after familiarising ourselves with the fact that there were so many Ethiopian coffee regions, we eventually worked out that the letters were probably KOCHURE which we then realised was in all probability KOCHERE, ... one of the many Yirgacheffe coffee regions.

So in that journey of discovery we learned:

  • Coffee all started in Ethiopia around the 9th Century. A popular story is that a goat-herder noticed his goats acting more spritely after consuming cherries from a certain plant and after trying them himself and finding a similar effect, the discovery of arabica coffee was made. There are also accounts of traders chewing cherries on trade routes from Ethiopia, in order to increase their energy.

  • A quick look at the world coffee production charts indicates Ethiopia has risen to the fifth largest producer of coffee in 2020, producing 7,375 x 60kg bags [442,500kg / 425.5 imperial ton / 487.8 US ton]

  • At their most recent peak output in 2018, the industry directly and indirectly employed up to 20% of Ethiopia’s 100 million population.

  • Yirgacheffe is a small coffee region which sits just below the Sidama region in southern Ethiopia. It offers exquisite washed & natural coffees and has been sub-divided into its own micro-region.

  • Kochere is not far from Yirgacheffe

  • Ethiopia is subdivided into regional states ("kililoch") and chartered cities, as well as zones, districts ("woreda") and wards ("kebele").

  • The 10 regional states ("kililoch") are based on cultural linguistics (also known as ethno-linguistics) and comprise of:

  1. Afar

  2. Amhara (regional state in northern Ethiopia, previously known as Region 3 )

  3. Benishangul-Gumuz (previously known as Region 6 )

  4. Gambela

  5. Harari

  6. Oromia

    1. Note: Not to be confused with Oromiya ... that is a zone in the Amhara Region)

  7. Somali

  8. Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) (formed from the merger of five states, previously called Regions 7 to 11 )

  9. Tigray

  10. Sidama

  • The 10 regions ("kililoch") are further subdivided into many zones , the full details of which can be viewed on this wikipedia List of zones of Ethiopia page

    • 6 zones in the Afar kililock

    • 11 zones in the Amhara kililock

    • 3 zones in the Benishangul-Gumuz

    • 3 zones in the Gambele kililock

    • 22 zones in the Oromia kililock

    • 9 zones in the Somali kililock

    • 20 zones in the SNNPR kililock

    • 7 zones in the Tigray kililock

  • The districts ("woredas") within those zones can likewise be viewed from this wikipedia Districts of Ethiopia page

  • From the Districts page we could identify that our beans-of-interest, Yirgacheffe and Kochere, come from the Gedeo zone which is part of the SNNPR Ethiopian state, but as noted above, it has been sub-divided into its own micro-region.

  • Some of the key coffee regions in Ethiopia are:

    • Harrar

      • one of the oldest Ethiopian coffee producing regions

      • Altitude: 1500~2100 MASL (meters above sea level)

      • Varietals: Heirloom

    • Jimma

      • Altitude: 1400~2000 MASL

      • Varietals: Heirloom

    • Limu

      • Altitude: 1400~2200 MASL

      • Varietals: Heirloom

    • Sidamo - home of some of the highest altitude coffees in Ethiopia

      • Both ‘Sidamo’ and ‘Sidama’ can be used to describe coffees from this region, while Sidama refers to the native inhabitants of the region.

      • Along with Harrar and Yirgacheffe, Sidamo is one of Ethiopia’s trademarked coffee growing regions

    • Yirgacheffe - produces coffee which is unique for its floral and highly aromatic qualities

  • Ethiopia is one of the few coffee producing countries with it’s own, well developed coffee culture, with almost half its coffee yield being consumed by its own population!

  • There is also a regulatory group called the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange known as the ECX. Until 2017 all coffee produced for export had to be processed by the ECX. March 2017 the ECX voted to allow direct sales of coffee from individual washing stations, to allow increased traceability, repeat purchases and relationship building between supplies and buyers.

  • The ECX divide the Sidamo region into 5 geographical areas, A; B; C; D; E

  • These designations have no bearing on coffee grading which also uses lettering for coffee quality grades.

  • The coffee growing regions were defined by the ECX for the purpose of classification and grading of coffee by defining the growing region and quality through a score ranging from 1 to 9. Grades 1 & 2 refer to specialty grades for both washed and natural beans. Grades 3 to 9 refer to commercial grades and are differentiated according to defect count and cup quality. e.g. grade 3 will have 13-25 secondary defects while grade 4 will have 26-45 secondary defects.

  • Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harrar are trademarks and accompanied by a letter (A, B, C…) which indicates the subregion where the coffee comes from.

  • ... however ...

  • In specialty grades, A and B refer to the presence or lack of classic regional flavour!


  • Kochere


      • 4/5 from 1 (0.08)

      • Natural process

      • Beautiful stewed peach, dark rich chocolate, Lingering tropical fruit acidity, Light citrus and Molasses finish


      • 4/5 from 1

      • Natural process

      • Full bodied sweet cup with delicate Cascara-like fruit notes, Hazelnut, Toffee, Molasses and Stewed nectarine

  • Guji


      • 5/5 from 27 (2.7)

      • Natural process

      • Succulent and sweet raspberries and blackcurrents, Rich cherries, Ripe plums, Bittersweet dark chocolate and caramel


      • 4.5/5 from 12

      • Sundried Natural

      • Stunning tropical fruits, Peach and Pineapple aroma with a beautiful bright berry finish.


      • n/a

      • Natural process

      • Clean sweet peach and tropical fruit acidity, Honey wit red apple, Berry-like and fruity finish

  • Yirgacheffe


      • 5/5 from 10

      • Natural process

      • Beautiful fragrant floral aroma, super sweet stone fruits, peach and apricots with a lingering fruity finish.

    • Name: ADADO

      • Rating: 5/5 from 1

      • Region: Gedeo

      • Altitude: 2100 MASL

      • Body:

      • Acidity:

      • Process: Natural G1

      • Beautiful red berry acidity, silky buttery mouthfeel, Butterscotch and stewed fruits

    • Name: GUTEMA YESHI G1

      • Rating: n/a

      • Region:

      • Altitude: 1800 MASL

      • Body:

      • Acidity:

      • Process: Natural

      • Stunning Dark Berries, Juicy And Sweet Blackberries, Blueberries, Honey And Underlying Tropical Citrus

  • Sidamo

    • Name: Gigesa

      • Rating: n/a

      • Region: Danbi Uddo, Gigesa, Shakisso

      • Altitude: 1800~1950 MASL

      • Process: Washed

      • Body 1/3 - Light

      • Acidity 1/3 - Delicate

      • Flavours of concord grape, apricot and chamomile.

      • Best as black espresso/filter

    • Name: Abiyot Boru

      • Rating: n/a

      • Region: Shakiso, Guji

      • Altitude: 1650~1800 MASL

      • Process: Washed

      • Body 1/3 - light

      • Acidity 2/3 - Medium

      • Flavours of concord grape, apricot and chamomile.

      • Best as black espresso/filter

    • Name: Qilenso

      • Rating: n/a

      • Region: Guji, Sidamo

      • Altitude: 1900~2000 MASL

      • Process: Washed

      • Body 2/3 - Medium

      • Acidity 2/3 - Balanced

      • Flavours of grape jelly and lemongrass tea

      • Best as black espresso/filter

    • Name: Wolichu Wachu

      • Rating: n/a

      • Region: Guji

      • Altitude: 2100~2300 MASL

      • Process: Washed

      • Body 1/3 - Light

      • Acidity 2/3 - Medium

      • Flavours of peach , bergamot and red grape.

      • Best as black espresso/filter

The ECX uses a broad definition for 'Sidamo' coffee which extends beyond the political borders of Sidama

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