Ethiopia is thought to have been the birthplace of coffee — by now we all know the story of the Ethiopian shepherd who noticed his goats becoming particularly energetic after eating the vivid red coffee berries. So it’s no wonder that Africa has a rich history in coffee, as well as a thriving coffee industry. Africa is one of the top coffee producing regions in the world, with many nations, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, counting coffee as one of their key crops and exports.
Here are some tidbits of information about the coffee industry past and present throughout the continent of Africa:
- The coffee plant originates from the highland forests of Ethiopia. It is believed that the first plants were found growing wild in the region of Kaffa, which is where coffee derives its name.
- Today, Ethiopia is Africa’s top exporter of Arabica beans, and the nation’s coffee industry employs an estimated 12 million Ethiopian people.
- A wide range of dry and wet processed coffees are produced in Ethiopia, and all have a reputation for their winey, fruity and floral flavors. Ethiopian Arabica is considered by many to be the finest coffee produced in Africa.
- The Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU) in Ethiopia is the largest organic coffee exporter in the world.
- The nation of Uganda produces primarily Robusta coffee beans, and the humble bean accounts for approximately 75 percent of the country’s export revenue and provides employment for around 80 percent of all rural workers.
- In Kenya, the export of coffee beans is one of the biggest industries, yet tea is a more popular beverage in Kenyan culture.
- Kenya’s high-grown, wet-processed Arabica is considered one of the worlds great coffees, and is characterized by a flavor that is full bodied, acidic, slightly winey and very smooth, with a dry winey aftertaste.
- Coffee berries provided a precursor to the modern day energy bar — it is believed that some East African tribes would mix the berries with animal fat to form edible energy balls.