Profiles in Coffee: East Africa
Disclaimer: It's difficult for a coffee nerd to talk broadly about East African coffees, since every country (and many regions within countries) deserves its own in-depth examination. But our goal here is to provide a basic introduction to the main regions of high-quality commercial Arabica production from which Red Rock gets our green coffee. We do this because we feel that the more one knows about where their coffee came from and what they might expect from it, the more enjoyable it is to drink.
Coffee benefits from the great altitude and volcanic soil in the places it is grown along the East African Rift Zone. In Ethiopia, to whose forests wild Arabica coffee is native, a quarter of the population currently depends on the crop for their livelihoods. Ethiopian coffees can be either dry- or wet-processed (Harrar is dry and Sidamo and Yirgacheffe can be either), and their flavor is singular. Currently, we have an Organic and Fair Trade Certified Sidamo that is just superb— medium body with chocolate aromatics and citrusy tang.
Kenya, just south of Ethiopia, is noted for its excellent coffee infrastructure: its farms, mills, markets, and auctions are run cooperatively and efficiently, and standards are very high despite considerable political instability. Our last Kenyan offering wass a punchy, bright cup with notes of ginger and a very clean finish.
Red Rock has also offered Tanzanian, Ugandan, and Rwandan coffees in the past. Tanzania and Uganda tend to resemble Kenya—quite intense, winey, and zesty. Rwanda is somewhat more subdued, with a little less acidity and overall a more delicate coffee. We'll let you know when these coffees are back in store!
[Updated 2019] Check out our current East African Coffees