Yirgacheffe 101: All About Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s coffee. About 400 million cups of coffee are consumed each day across the United States. Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia are among the top international coffee producers. But nothing quite compares to a perfect cup of Ethiopian coffee. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is one of the most popular types of coffee in the world. Its light bodied flavor and delicious aromas make it a perfect beverage choice.

Origin and History

History attributes Ethiopia as coffee’s birthplace in 850 AD. A young goat herder named Kaldi noticed increased energy and liveliness in his flock after munching on coffee beans. Kaldi gave the beans a try, noticed the effects, and the world’s infatuation with coffee had begun. Located within Sidama, Yirgacheffe is a small region in southern Ethiopia where the beans thrive. The plants grow naturally thanks to its thick vegetation, healthy soil, and high elevations. Ethiopia provides a warm and tropical climate with moderate wet and dry seasons.

Since the climate is ideal, Yirgacheffe plants can be harvested without agricultural chemicals. Yirgacheffe beans are harvested from October through December. If you’re looking for a green and organic coffee, Yirgacheffe is an excellent choice.

Coffee is Ethiopia’s biggest export. In 2008, the Ethiopia commodities market officially began trading coffee. Today, Ethiopia is the world’s fifth largest coffee-producing nation and grows the most coffee in Africa. It produces 846,575,000 pounds of coffee per year. About 15 million Ethiopian citizens work in coffee production.

Wet vs. Natural Processing

Ethiopian beans can be naturally processed or washed, although there is debate over which process delivers the best roast.

Natural Processing

Natural processing takes freshly-picked beans and dries them in the sun. It’s the traditional and most common way to create coffee. Ethiopians would spend their mornings picking the beans and leave them to dry during the afternoon. Naturally processed beans have a heavy fruit and wine flavor. They may have hints of cherry, grape, lime, and peach. Their natural process gives them an earthy taste. If beans aren’t dried correctly, they develop a sour taste and become too brittle to roast. Yirgacheffe beans are often wasted due to poor natural processing.

Wet Processing

Wet processing began in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia was the birth-place of the first wet processing mill. Instead of being picked and dried immediately, wet processing requires thorough washing. The coffee beans soak in giant water vats immediately after they’re picked. Once they are clean, the beans sit on rotating beds for 48 to 72 hours. This dries the entire bean evenly. Wet processing removes the traditional fermented Yirgacheffe flavors and creates a lighter bodied coffee bean with citrus and floral notes. Wet processing is a modern method that creates a more consistent flavor. This method produces Yirgacheffe coffee that can be marketed as a specialty product.

Flavor

Yirgacheffe beans are bright and beautiful. They’re ideal for both hot and cold brews. The beans make a delicious light or medium-roast with distinctive floral notes. It creates a mellow coffee with a mild body. If you don’t like strong coffee flavors, Yirgacheffe is for you.

When indulging in Yirgacheffe coffee, expect to experience flavors of:

  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Lemon
  • Wine

The taste is clean and offers a vibrant finish. Finer, high-quality Yirgacheffe blends sometimes have a toasted coconut flavor.

How to Roast

Medium Roasts are most commonly used for Yirgacheffe coffee beans. This enhances its sweet aromas and bright acidity. Yirgacheffe beans are small and need to be roasted delicately. It’s a tricky process that requires accuracy and patience. Incorrect roasting causes the beans to lose their distinct flavor.

How to Brew

Fresh-roasted and ground Yirgacheffe beans allow you to experience the bean’s full flavor. You can brew Yirgacheffe coffee hot or use it to create a cold brew. Yirgacheffe coffee should be brewed in a metal filter as it allows more oils to pass. Paper filters tend to strain coffee grounds of their flavor. Therefore, the best way to brew Yirgacheffe coffee is by using a French Press or pour over method.

French Press

A French press brings the most out the fruity Yirgacheffe flavors. To make the perfect cup: grind your beans thoroughly, combine two ounces of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe grounds with two cups of unfiltered water. Sip your coffee and enjoy the Yirgacheffe’s natural aromas. If you enjoy your coffee cold, let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, and serve it over ice. Most Yirgacheffe coffee doesn’t need milk or cream. These additives drown out its distinctive flavor.

Pour-over

The pour-over method brings out Yirgacheffe’s lemon acidity. This makes for a sweeter coffee. Pour-overs give you more control over the brewing process which helps to preserve your coffee’s flavor. For the best results: combine 12 ounces of water with about three tablespoons of ground Yirgacheffe coffee, set the temperature between 192 and 198 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how light you want your coffee.

Food Pairings

Fruits are best paired with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. Try a cup with a fruit salad or fruit bar. If you want something sweeter, enjoy your coffee with a lemon pound cake or lemon meringue pie. Yirgacheffe’s sweet flavor also tastes delicious with chocolate. This will bring out its notes of wine. Try a cup of Yirgacheffe coffee with dessert to experience its full flavor. If you’re treating yourself to a cup of Yirgacheffe coffee for breakfast, pair it with sweeter dishes like pancakes, French toast, or donuts. These match nicely with the fruity Yirgacheffe beans.

Purchase Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

Coffee lovers appreciate a well-brewed cup of Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe coffee. When done right, it’s unlike any other. Contact us to learn more about how you can get a fresh batch of Yirgacheffe coffee beans.