Coffees from this growing region are the most distinctive in the world, characterized by dry, winy acidity, chocolate and fruit undertones, rustic flavors and intense aromas. Ethiopia is the native land of coffee, and it was in Yemen that coffee was first cultivated and prepared
Ethiopia is the birthplace of the Arabica tree, and wild berries are still harvested by tribesí people in its mountains. In Eastern Ethiopia, coffee trees are grown between 5,000 and 6,000 feet on small peasant plots and farms. These coffees may be called longberry Harrar [large bean], shortberry Harrar [smaller bean] or Mocha Harrar [peaberry or single bean]. They are all cultivated simply, processed by the traditional dry method, and are no doubt organic. Ethiopian Harrar is characterized by winy and blueberry undertones, with good body and high acid.
Eastern Ethiopia produces a washed coffee called Ghimbi or Gimbi, that has the winy undertones of Harrar, but can be richer, more balanced, and have a heavier body and longer finish. Southern Ethiopia produces washed coffees with fruity acidity and intense aromas. These coffees are known by the names of the districts in which they are produced, such as Sidamo, or by terms like Ethiopian Fancies or Ethiopian Estate Grown.
The most famous of these coffees is Yirgacheffe, which has an unparalled fruity aroma, light and elegant body, and an almost menthol taste. Many U.S. consumers seek this coffee out.
Coffees produced in India have more in common with Indonesian coffees than with coffees from Africa or the Arabian Peninsula. Good Indian coffees are grown in the states of Karnatka [formerly Mysore], Kerala, and Tamilnadu [formerly Madras]. In good years these coffees can contain acidity typical of Guatemalan coffee, and the full body of a good Javanese coffee. In addition, these coffees incorporate the unique spicy flavors of nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and pepper.
India also produces monsoon coffees, in which the green beans have been exposed to the monsoon winds blowing through open warehouses during India's rainy season. This process reduces acidity and enhances sweetness, making them similar to Indonesian aged coffees.
Kenya works diligently to assure quality in all beans that are exported. The coffee is cultivated on small farms, and the growers are rewarded with high prices for quality beans. The main growing region in Kenya extends south of 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya to near the capital of Nairobi. Kenyan coffee is wet-processed and sold by the size of the bean, with AA signifying the largest beans, followed by A and B. The best Kenyan coffee, called Estate Kenya, can cost twice as much as regular AA's, but is worth the price. The tremendous body, astounding winy acidity and black-current flavor and aroma make Estate Kenya one of the finest coffees in the world.
Most Tanzanian coffees are grown near the border of Kenya on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and are sometimes referred to as Kilimanjaro, Moshi or Arusha. Other coffees are grown further south between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa, and are usually called Mbeya, after one of the region's cities or Pare, a market name. All coffees are wet-processed and graded by bean size, with the highest grade being AA, then A and B. Tanzanian coffees are characterized by a winy acidity, medium to full body, and deep richness. Peaberries are often separated from flat beans and sold at a premium for the enhanced flavor characteristics they possess.
Most of the coffee produced in Uganda is Robusta, and is used for instant coffee. Uganda does produce one fine Arabica called either Bugishu or Bugisu, and it is grown on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon on the Kenyan border. This coffee is winy in its acidity, and similar to Kenyan coffee in flavor, though lighter in body.
Arabian Mocha, grown in the northern mountains of Yemen, is one of the oldest and most traditional of the world's coffees. It is also one of the finest. This coffee has been cultivated and processed in the same way for centuries, grown on mountain terraces and naturally dried. No chemicals are used in its production, and it is no doubt organic. Mocha is a balanced coffee with medium to full body, good acidity and chocolate undertones. Two famous market names for this coffee are Mattari and Sanani. Sanani mochas have a wild, fruity acidity, while Mattari mochas are known for their full body and chocolate undertones.
Coffee is grown on medium-sized farms and is a less potent version of Kenyan coffee, containing less acid and less body. The best come from the Chipinga region.