Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of Arabica coffee and for a country that consumes much of what it produces it is not surprising that the quality is often there too.
The Yirgacheff is often a very floral, fruity and potentially contrasting coffee to the traditional chocolate caramels of Aussie favourites. This is why I call it the gateway coffee – because it opens the palate of the amateur coffee drinker to perhaps a more open approach to specialty coffee. Be it the Dark Horse of Five Senses or the daddy’s girl at Padre, Melbourne blends tend to be the darker roasted, fuller bodied coffees that come with an aroma of toast and chocolate and are sweet and caramel on the tongue. They stay close to traditional Italian roasts that we had in the early 90s. The yirg, often a medium roast with a light to medium body, an aroma of stone fruits and citrus is often a pleasantly shocking contrast to the untrained drinker.
As well as being different in flavour and aroma to the traditional blends, this single origin opened my eyes, nose and palate to the wide world of specialty coffee. Although the Yirg is not my personal favourite coffee (my most memorable coffees have been South American coffees) it is the one that I remember opened my eyes and my passion for exploring single origins and science of specialty coffee generally.
I hope that you as a coffee lover will also explore different varietals, processing methods, extraction and brewing techniques and learn to love coffee in all of its pleasant varieties.
“In the Kaffa region of Southern Ethiopia, at the extreme altitude of 8,000 feet, dwell the Yirgacheffe people, a minority sect of Coptic Christians. It is said that Haile Selassie used to make the Yirgacheffe coffee estate one of his summer retreats. The Yirgacheffe grow coffee as they have for centuries, in terraced plots worked by the entire family”