People interested in single source coffee or single estate coffee may wonder where coffee drinking first started. Coffee reportedly was first discovered in the Kaffa area of Ethiopia. This discovery was allegedly made by a man by the name of Kaldi who noticed that his goat herd was behaving strangely after eating the cherries of a tree that was growing there. Kaldi took a sample of the ‘cherries’ for himself and shared them with friends. They all felt the effects of consuming coffee – namely, feeling more energetic and alert from the jolt of caffeine.
The strange behavior of those who consumed the coffee beans was then noted by a religious figure in the area. He said the ‘cherries’ were the work of Satan and threw them into a fire. Of course, the air then was filled with the heavenly aroma of roasting coffee beans.
Whether this tale is true or not, there is no doubt there are favorable growing conditions for coffee beans in Africa. This fact has led to the continent being a top grower of prized coffee beans. Some of the best coffees on earth come from Africa; it is argued in many corners that coffees originating from East Africa, including Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi, have the highest potential for quality.
African coffees are renowned by coffee experts for their complex flavor profiles. These profiles bring additional sweetness and acidity to many blends of espresso. This makes for highly refined and complex single origin coffees. They are the best examples of the many different flavors that you can find in coffee and in many of the best producing countries with the best weather conditions for good coffee.
African coffees tend to be more floral and fruity in their flavor, ranging from lemon to jasmine to blackcurrant.
Coffees that come from Africa tend to be grown on small plantations rather than huge estates. In Kenya, for example, 60% of the farming is done by small families who have only up to two hectares to produce coffee, which means about 200 trees. This amount of land will generate 1-2 coffee sacks, which is not enough to export to a buyer.
Growers then will join cooperatives, which are named after the factory or washing station that processes the coffee beans that are brought in by the small farmers. The farmer is compensated for the beans and receives additional incentives for the amount of coffee that is brought to the washing station.