David Farley goes on a journey to Ethiopia to discover the world’s best coffee. He reports in a fascinating piece for Afar Magazine:
Coffee is to Ethiopia what hops are to Bohemia or grapes to Bordeaux. That is, coffee is almost everything, from the cornerstone of the community’s economic fortunes to the lifeblood of its social relations. Java drinking is so deeply rooted here that Azeb was dumbstruck that I could have lived 40 years on the planet never having seen what coffee looks like before it’s plucked, peeled, dried, roasted, and ground.
Which is exactly why I was in Ethiopia. I wanted to travel around this East African country’s primary coffee-growing regions and immerse myself in its coffee culture. I can sit around at coffeehouses in New York and San Francisco drinking all the Ethiopian coffee my brain can take before spinning out of control. But I was curious about the time and toil it takes to produce these beans, everything that goes into slaking the States’ obsessive thirst for small-batch artisan roasts.
After all, great coffee is harvested all over the world—in Guatemala, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, and Rwanda, for example—but no coffee-producing country on earth can match the variety that grows in Ethiopia. By some estimates, nearly 99 percent of the world’s arabica coffee can be traced to Ethiopia. Moreover, according to aficionados, it’s here that some of the best coffee in the world is being produced.
A useful corollary post is this one: where to buy Ethiopian coffee in the United States.