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Ethiopia’s forgotten Harar region returns to specialty coffee market

From the March 2016 issue.

The birthplace of commercial coffee production as we know it, the Ethiopian region of Harar’s beans are starting to find their way back into the global specialty trade. This is exciting news to industry officials and consumers alike.

With coffee farms carved out of dense rocks in highlands so dry that from the outside they appear to be part of the Sahara dessert, eastern Ethiopia’s Harar coffee region is home to many cultural gems and historical sites, not to mention the quality and unique flavour profiles of its coffee.

Coffee production in Ethiopia has been on the rise in the past decade. Among roasters and specialty buyers, beans from the larger and more commercially famous coffee regions such as Sidamo, Limmu, and Yirgacheffe have dominated the trade. But this is starting to change.

“In the last 10 years we have started to see an important rise in the volume of coffee coming out of the more traditionally known regions such as Sidamo, but what is so exciting now is that we are also starting to see more coffee from other regions like Kaffa and Harar starting to reach the market,” says Orit Mohammed, who runs Boon Coffee importers and roasters of Ethiopian specialty beans in Dubai.

“This is not only good because it is quality coffee, but it really helps differentiate between the different Ethiopian coffees and add choices for both roasters and consumers when it comes to how to appreciate our coffee,” says Mohammed, who is from Harar herself.

Ethiopian coffee trader Orit Mohammed is happy to see beans from her home of Harar back on the international market.

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