Speciality Arabica coffee beans are pretty special, and produce the most impeccable coffee due to the ideal conditions in which they grow. Sumptuous soil conditions combined with high altitudes are the key ingredients for growing and cultivating the best coffee – and Africa has them both in spades.
As in Asia and Latin America there are different coffees in different countries where the taste varies, however they do all share common traits – African countries usually produce a washed Arabica coffee which is usually balanced, bright, with citrusy, winy berry and floral notes.
We will focus on three African countries, namely Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Kenyan coffee is grown high up at an altitude of around 4 to 7,000 ft. they have a gorgeous acidity and produce a bright berry and citrusy cup of coffee. There are plenty of sophisticated highly graded coffees from this country with AA and AA Plus which are washed and then dried in the sun. Harvesting season is from November through to the end of January in early winter.
In Ethiopia there are three major growing regions, and they are Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Harrar. They are all in the highlands of Ethiopia and up in altitudes of between 4 and 7, 000 ft. similar to Kenya. Between the 3 coffees, only Harrar is dry-processed, and the coffee in turn is recognised by its big body, complimented by a really good, sharp fruit finish. Yirgacheffe and Sidamo are both wet-processed coffees giving a berry and floral finish to the drink, although this can depend on the crop that year.
Tanzanian coffee is rich in flavour and comes with a slightly fruity edge with a full body. There’s lower acidity and its coffee is made from the peaberry which consists of a single round bean rather than a flat sided bean of two halves. The flavour of this coffee then is superb.
There are other African coffee producing countries…
Other coffee making countries in the African region are Burundi, Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although too many to mention here, they all produce their own distinctive coffees with the overall traits of an African coffee.
Try one, and then try them all and find your favourite…
In summary then, African coffee is known for its spicy fruitiness and is well balanced, it usually produces a washed coffee, bringing with it some exceptional aromas and tones. The only way you’ll ever get to appreciate an African coffee is by trying them all, perhaps starting off with an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe or the Kenya AA and then working your way through them all slowly, you’re bound to have a favourite, but just savour each one and enjoy.