The Ethiopian legend states that Kaldi’s dancing goats revealed coffee to mankind. Forensic genetics supports that claim for Arabica Coffee, or as our Ethiopian friends say Abyssinia Coffee. The wild coffee forest of Ethiopia once covered more than 1/3 of the country. My theological training makes me ponder if Adam smuggled a few seeds from Eden. Certainly, caffeine’s dynamic effect on humans appears to be by design. Regardless of coffee's origin story one thing is for certain, we owe our gratitude to Ethiopia.
We first traveled to Ethiopia in 2006 for a USAID project with Boot Coffee. USAID wanted to support the development of an early specialty coffee identification in rural areas. The project goal was twofold: to select and train young coffee tasters, and second to establish the first remote cupping labs in growing regions. Little did we know we that at the end of the dirt roads we would encounter super tasters! On their first attempt Kindu and Fantenesh earned perfect scores on the entry sensory skills test! Any Q Grader in the world knows how astonishing this is. Fantenesh went on to put the famous Duramina coffees on the map. Dagne went onto discover and promote unique Guji coffees. Alymayu diligently found the Konga Cooperative cupping lab, and used the little USAID sample roaster till the burner failed. They all mastered coffee cupping and subsequently connected cup flavor discovery to international commerce.
Every cup of Arabica coffee owes its existence to the millennia-long preservation of historic Abyssinia Coffee Forest, and our Ethiopian specialty cups to the diligence of today’s coffee tasters. We thank the Creator for both.