5 Best Ethiopian Coffee Beans 2020: The Birthplace Of Coffee

If you’ve tried Ethiopian coffee before, you’ll know it’s cherished for bright and fruity flavors with higher than average acidity.

With the coffee plant accounting for 34% of the nations’ export revenues, it comes as no surprise that there are many different types of coffee in Ethiopia.

Below, we dive into the best Ethiopian coffee beans available to buy today regardless of how you enjoy brewing your cup of Joe.

Let’s get started with our top pick:

Top Pick
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe by Volcanica Coffee

Originating from the Yirgacheffe region in Ethiopia, this is Volcanicas #1 best-seller. Versatile enough to brewed as a pour over for a brighter flavor, or even at the other end of the spectrum as a full bodied espresso!

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Alternatives at a glance

Best Mild Body
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere Coffee

Notes of citrus and honey. Bright and crisp with a mild body and fruit tea like finish.

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Best Light Roast
Organic Ethiopian Sidamo

Earthy, with berry like undertones. Best served via a pour over or cold brew.


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Best Ethiopian Espresso
Rainer Coffee Roasters - Ethiopian Gotiti Natural

Unlike other Ethiopian beans, these offer a rare glimpse into flavors usually reserved for the darker side. Flavorful, with notes of fruit, ginger and a chocolate like finish when combined with milk.

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Best On Amazon
Ethiopian Bright Light Roast Grade 1
$17.95 ($1.50 / Ounce)

Unlike most Ethiopians, this ones naturally processed leading an explosion of flavors. Overall, a bright brew, with floral and honey like notes.

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The 5 Best Ethiopian Coffees

1. Volcanica: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

The Yirgacheffe region in southern Ethiopia is known for producing medium-bodied coffee with floral and fruity notes. You’ll be glad to know that these beans perfectly fit the bill!

Top Pick
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe by Volcanica Coffee

Originating from the Yirgacheffe region in Ethiopia, this is Volcanicas #1 best-seller. Versatile enough to brewed as a pour over for a brighter flavor, or even at the other end of the spectrum as a full bodied espresso!

SEE PRICE NOW Learn More
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Regardless if you enjoy a pour-over or espresso, these coffee beans are versatile enough to work both ways. Try a pour-over for a more bright cup of Ethiopian Coffee. Otherwise, an espresso will bring out chocolatey notes.

The medium roast showcases the acidity that single-origin Ethiopian coffee is best known for. It has a dark chocolate body, rounded out by notes of ripe strawberry and pineapple guava. With a full mouthfeel and a delicate lavender aroma, it’s our favorite!

The result? A delicious and complex brew!

Being grown organically, these beans also raise the standard. You can be sure no harmful chemicals or pesticides were used during production or processing. 

They’re also fair trade certified. That means you can be sure money will be fairly distributed to the right pockets, from the farmers through to the roasters. I always try to look for fair trade certification when I buy coffee. So everybody eats!

2. Fresh Roasted Coffee: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere Coffee

Not all coffee beans in the Yirgacheffe region are the same. While the previous top pick is incredibly complex, the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere is a little more straightforward.

Best Mild Body
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere Coffee

Notes of citrus and honey. Bright and crisp with a mild body and fruit tea like finish.

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This coffee is from Kochere, a small popular coffee-producing district in the region of Yirgacheffe. The roast brings out a balanced flavor profile, with distinct lemon acidity and honey sweetness.

One apprehension I have with this Ethiopian coffee is its lack of organic and fair trade certification. However, I may be more the exception than the rule in making this a significant factor in my coffee purchases.

But all in all, it’s a delicate, light roast coffee that’s hard to see myself getting tired of.

3. Fresh Roasted Coffee: Ethiopian Natural Sidamo

These Ethiopian Natural Sidamo coffee beans are another example of an excellent, straightforward brew.

Best Light Roast
Organic Ethiopian Sidamo

Earthy, with berry like undertones. Best served via a pour over or cold brew.


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These beans have a creamy mouthfeel with an earthy character. This is balanced out by a berry-like sweetness. It’s light, with pleasant acidity.

Like the Yirgacheffe, these beans are USDA organic and fair trade certified. And for an exotic Ethiopian experience, these indigenous heirloom cultivars are your best bet.

4. Rainier Coffee: Ethiopia Gotiti Natural

Among Ethiopian coffees known for fruity and floral tasting notes, this heirloom varietal sets itself apart. These Ethiopian Gotiti Natural beans produce a rich brew, with low notes of black currant and blackberry. It also has notes of cocoa and spice that resemble a delicious gingerbread cookie.

Best Ethiopian Espresso
Rainer Coffee Roasters - Ethiopian Gotiti Natural

Unlike other Ethiopian beans, these offer a rare glimpse into flavors usually reserved for the darker side. Flavorful, with notes of fruit, ginger and a chocolate like finish when combined with milk.

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The roast brings out its decadent, bold flavor, which is perfect as espresso. The addition of milk also rounds off its bitter edge and makes the chocolate taste more pronounced.

Chocolate? Bold? These aren’t words that are often used to describe Ethiopian beans. So if those are things you tend to look for in a cup of coffee, these beans are an excellent choice.

5. Cooper’s Cask Coffee: Ethiopian Light Roast

Finally, we have Cooper’s Cask Coffee. 

Best On Amazon
Ethiopian Bright Light Roast Grade 1
$17.95 ($1.50 / Ounce)

Unlike most Ethiopians, this ones naturally processed leading an explosion of flavors. Overall, a bright brew, with floral and honey like notes.

SEE NOW ON AMAZON Learn More
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you. 11/30/2020 02:42 pm GMT

It has a very vibrant flavor profile, with notes of lemon tart, honey, and floral nectar. It also has a hint of berries to add to its complexity, making a very bright and aromatic coffee.

It’s an excellent brew that’s best enjoyed on its own. Try it via a pour-over coffee without any additives. 

How does Cooper’s do it? This Rhode Island-based roaster only roasts Grade 1 green Ethiopian coffee beans and in small batches. This ensures that every batch of the highest quality coffee is roasted fresh and evenly for full flavor.

And if you’re a fan of roasters with fair trade policies like me, Cooper’s buys their beans through the Farm Gate program. This program pays higher premiums to the farmers who produce excellent quality coffee because they’re the real MVPs!

The Buyers & Info Guide to Ethiopian Coffee

Regions Famous for Coffee

Because of the varied geographical landscape and coffee’s prominence in the country, there are thousands of coffee varietals in Ethiopia. And their flavor profiles vary between farms and especially between growing regions.

With that said, there are three primary coffee-growing regions in Ethiopia.

Sidamo

Sidamo is a province in the South East Zone of Ethiopia. Its terroir–high altitude, rainfall, temperature and quality of the soil–contributes to the high quality of the beans produced here.Sidamo coffees are known for their floral and citrus notes. They also tend to have a full body and distinct acidity.

Yirgacheffe

Yirgacheffe is actually located within Sidamo. But this region deserves its own recognition for consistently producing sensational coffees.While Sidamo coffee tends to be full-bodied, Yirgacheffe coffee is more medium-bodied. It’s usually bright and has a more complex flavor profile. It tends to have flowery aromatic notes, and a pleasant, lingering aftertaste.

Harar

Harar consists of many small farms growing wild Arabica coffee at high elevations. The beans here are often naturally processed.

Harar coffee is full-bodied, with medium acidity. It’s known for notes of berry and an intense, pungent fruity flavor, similar to wine.

Yirgacheffe Is A Global Favorite

Of the three key regions, Yirgacheffe is the most famous. It’s known the world over for producing high-quality specialty coffee. In fact, two of the five coffees I recommended happen to come from this popular region.

While most coffees in Ethiopia are dry-processed, many coffees in Yirgacheffe are wet-processed. This results in the medium body and bright, clean acidity that beans from there are known for. This form of processing also accentuates Yirgacheffe coffees’ naturally fruity and floral notes.

My favorite way to enjoy a single-origin coffee from Yirgacheffe is with my V60. The pour-over method is the perfect way to allow more subtle, delicate flavors in a light or medium roasted Yirgacheffe coffee to shine through.

Best Roasted Light or Medium

You might have noticed that none of the recommended coffee from Ethiopia is a dark roast. But what if you like that punchy coffee taste that usually comes with it?

Now I don’t have a vendetta against dark roast coffee. There are days when I’m in the mood for it too. But as a roast gets darker, you lose more of the original characteristics of the bean, and more flavors from the roast. And the more subtle the origin characteristics are, the easier it is to cover them up when you roast dark.

Ethiopian coffee is commonly known for floral, fruity tasting notes. As a result, a dark roast would mute these flavors, and your Ethiopian coffee will taste just like any other coffee. That’s why Ethiopian coffee is often roasted light or medium. These roasts highlight characteristics inherent in the beans themselves, rather than cover them up.

But maybe “strong” tasting coffee is what you’re into. If it is, that’s totally fine. But you definitely don’t need to source your coffee beans from Ethiopia for that. Similar to If you like cooking steaks well done, there’s no need to buy the expensive cuts.

Coffee Is A Vital Source Of FX

Saying Ethiopia takes its coffee seriously is an understatement. It’s the country’s largest export, and they are also one of the largest coffee producers in the world. In 2019, they were estimated to produce around 441,000 metric tons of coffee.

So how do they make so much coffee? As of 2018, the coffee industry employed around 20 percent of the population. That’s 1 in every 5 people working in the coffee industry. Ethiopia doesn’t take their coffee seriously. It’s their life.

The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Coffee doesn’t just play a significant role in Ethiopia’s economy but also its culture. There is what is known as an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, done in some parts of the country. This ceremony is two to three hours long and is performed up to three times a day! It’s a sign of respect and friendship to be invited to one. Here’s how it works.

The woman of the house welcomes guests into her home by preparing them coffee from scratch.

Green coffee beans are manually cleaned, roasted, ground, and brewed. Then, the host pours her guests up to three rounds of coffee. The roast tends to be super dark and often burnt because it’s homemade.

And as the hostess drinks with her guests, they can hang out and talk about politics, gossip, or any relevant topics in their community.

As the beans are nearly murdered during this process, it isn’t done for a deeper appreciation of Ethiopian coffee. Rather, being a traditional ceremony due to the countries’ rich history with the plant.

The Birthplace of Coffee

While the story about Kaldi and his goats may have some truth to it, While it’s still debated, it’s said that at one point in time, the coffee plant only grew in Ethiopia.

In the early fifteenth century, a respected Imam, Sheikh Gemaleddin Abou Muhammad Bensaid, became a fan. He then decided to ship Ethiopian coffee across the Red Sea, into a port called Mocha (yes, that Mocha) in Yemen.

The Arabians started cultivating and trading coffee, and Mocha held a world monopoly on it for centuries. That is until a Dutch spy managed to steal some seedlings and plant them in a Dutch colony: Indonesia.

Whether this spy was a hero or a villain in this story is debatable. But today, Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world, ahead of even Ethiopia.

But Ethiopia has been so far removed from the drama surrounding coffee’s history this whole time. And as a result, they’re they’ve been able to cultivate Ethiopian coffee (and the flavors that come with it) for hundreds of years without interruption.

Geisha Originates from Ethiopia

Panama Geisha is one of the most famous and expensive coffees in the world. In 2019, a pound of this Geisha sold for $1,029 in a competition held by the Specialty Coffee Association of Panama.

Panamanian Geisha
100% Panamanian Geisha Coffee
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But this specialty coffee originates from the Geisha district in Ethiopia. If you’ll look at the map you saw earlier, it’s located in Kaffa, inside the South West Zone. This was exported to Panama, where it eventually became Panama Geisha. From there, over 15 countries now cultivate their versions of Panama Geisha coffee.

As you can see, the roots of Ethiopian coffee are the roots of coffee itself. And a taste of Ethiopian coffee beans is also an appreciation of coffee’s rich history, and how far it’s come after all these years.

The Verdict

For me, the best Ethiopian coffee is Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. This full-bodied, medium roasted coffee has a beautiful flavor profile, with delectable notes of strawberry, pineapple guava, and dark chocolate. It’s organic and fair trade, too, both of which add even more value to the coffee.

Top Pick
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe by Volcanica Coffee

Originating from the Yirgacheffe region in Ethiopia, this is Volcanicas #1 best-seller. Versatile enough to brewed as a pour over for a brighter flavor, or even at the other end of the spectrum as a full bodied espresso!

SEE PRICE NOW Learn More
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But, the best coffee for you might be something totally different. Regardless of which Ethiopian coffee you decide to go with, it’s important to note what you like. You may prefer the tasting notes of other beans or a lighter roast that brings out more of the flavors you enjoy.

Knowing what you like will allow you to have so much more fun on your coffee journey. And if you ever get to try all the thousands of Ethiopian coffee beans out there, do let me know which ones you like the most.

Quino Papa

Quino Papa

Coffee Lover

Everything I first learned about coffee, I picked up working as a barista for my older brother. Now, I seek to expand my knowledge on my own as a coffee enthusiast who believes his best brews are still ahead of him.