Experts Decide Ethiopia Has Best Coffee

29 January, 2015

An international group of coffee experts has rated Ethiopia's coffee as the best in the world. Coffee is a top export for the country. But at home, it is a source of national pride. Ethiopians feel good about their coffee, and enjoying a drink with friends is a longstanding tradition.

International coffee experts travel the world to find the best tasting cup of coffee. They keep returning to Ethiopia. Some people say the climate produces quality beans. Morton Wennersgarrd is a coffee importer.

"You have different ancient varieties referred to as Ethiopian heirdom. They are grown in places with perfect soil, perfect altitude, and micro climates that are really suitable for coffee processing, such as drying and things like that."

Finding the best quality beans is often an issue of taste. The intense process is known as cupping -- tasting and comparing coffee from different roasted beans, grading and then pricing them.

But before international experts come to taste, coffee beans are studied in small coffee laboratories. Helen Assefa, a lab technician, describes the process.

"When the coffee comes to the lab, we assess the coffee quality first by recording the details. Then we weigh the moisture level and we screen the beans for analysis. After that we grind the coffee beans and taste the samples. At the end we check for defective beans."

Mubarik Abaoli is a lab worker. He says the testing is a very difficult and lengthy process.

"We sort out the defects manually, by hand. And we sort out the defect according to the defect types. The types are immature, paste damage, foxy, black -- all has to be sorted out according to the severity of the defects."

Ethiopia is making big profits on its coffee reputation with exports to more than 120 countries. The country has an export revenue of more than $840 million a year.

But not all the best coffee leaves Ethiopia. Forty percent of the coffee grown in the country stays there. It remains an important part of everyday life at work, at home and at ceremonies just to celebrate that special cup.

I'm Marsha James.

This report was based on a story from reporter Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa. Marsha James wrote it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. _______________________________________________________________

Words in this Story

longstanding - adj., lasting or existing for a long time

analysisn., a careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other

reputationn., the common opinion that people have about someone or something; public image

Do you think your country has the best tasting coffee in the world? What makes your country's coffee beans and drink so special? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.