Almost every specialty coffee lover, whether professional or enthusiast, can remember the cup that changed everything. Coffee is just coffee, until you encounter berries, flowers, and a multitude of other sensory experiences you never expected from your morning cup. Talking with other coffee lovers, I’ve found, more often than not, that life-changing cup came from Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is the motherland of Coffea arabica. The plant is indigenous to the country and it’s still home to 99% of the plants’s genetic diversity. Ethiopia is also home to the oldest coffee culture. While in many places coffee is simply a cash crop, in Ethiopia it’s a central part of life.
Yet, in spite of this, information about Ethiopian coffee is not readily available. You might have a region, the process, a grade, and if you’re lucky, a washing station. Even less information is available about the forests of Kafa, where wild coffee trees still grow.
That was until Jeff Koehler wrote Where the Wild Coffee Grows: the Untold Story of Coffee from the Cloud Forests of Ethiopia to Your Cup. Koehler set out to write a book about the original coffee drinking culture, but he discovered a story that in many ways holds the keys to coffee’s future as well….