Did you know that Arabica coffee originated in Ethiopia? There’s an old story about a goat herder in the 9th century first discovering the coffee bean because he noticed his flock becoming energized after eating a certain type of berry. Those berries eventually became known as coffee beans, and their popularity spread quickly throughout Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Whether this story is true or not, coffee has been around in Ethiopia for centuries.
So, if you’re looking for the best Ethiopian coffee, you may have noticed that there are countless choices on the market today. We’re here to help! We’ve narrowed down the list to seven coffees and provided reviews for each one, thus giving you the ultimate buying guide for Ethiopian coffee. Read on for our best-of list.
A Quick Glance at our Favorite Brands of 2023
The 7 Best Ethiopian Coffees
1. Volcanica’s Ethiopian Coffee — Best Overall
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Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is some of the best coffee you can find. Most of the product is gathered from wild coffee trees in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, and the rest is estate coffee, meaning it comes from a single farm or estate. It has delicious fruity and floral notes of ripe strawberry, pineapple, guava, dark chocolate, and lavender. The flavor is strong and noticeable. Volcanica is a brand that freshly roasts its coffee and ships it out immediately.
The only negative is that this particular variety of Volcanica coffee doesn’t have official organic or fair-trade seals. However, most of the coffee is harvested from wild trees, so there shouldn’t be much, if any, chemical and pesticide residue. It may not be officially Fair Trade, but the coffee does come from a single farm/estate in Ethiopia.
RELATED READ: Our In-Depth Volcanica Coffee Review
2. Cooper’s Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee – Best Ground Coffee
If you prefer to buy pre-ground coffee, Cooper’s Ethiopian Light Roast could be for you. It’s conveniently available in four grind sizes (French press, drip, espresso, and Turkish), along with whole bean.
Even better, Cooper’s Ethiopian is unique in that it offers Farm Gate beans, meaning the coffee was purchased directly from the farmer’s “gate.” This is one way you can be sure that you’re supporting coffee farmers in Ethiopia. This is also micro-lot and single-origin coffee, which is when the coffee beans come from one particular field or farm in Ethiopia. If you’re looking to fall in love with one flavor profile and stick with it, then buying micro-lot, single-origin coffee is the way to go. This one has citrusy-floral notes of lemon tart, raw honey, and floral nectar.
Unlike Volcanica, there’s no guarantee that the beans are roasted promptly, and there’s no roast date on the package to confirm exactly when they were roasted either. However, these single-origin beans are certified Organic and Fair Trade.
3. Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC’s Ethiopian Coffee
Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is both USDA organic and Fair Trade Certified. It has a single origin in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, which gives it a predictable flavor profile of sweet tangerine, lemon tea, and lime. This is another coffee company that freshly roasts the beans and immediately ships out the coffee. The medium roast is suitable for a wide variety of tastes.
Despite the company’s statement on their website that they roast the beans and immediately ship, there are no roast dates on the coffee bags, so you can’t confirm the exact date. Also, this particular variety can be a little citrusy for some palettes. Many have described it as “sour” for this reason.
4. Cubico’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Coffee
If you love the convenience of ground coffee or simply don’t have a coffee grinder, Cubico’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Coffee could be a good pick. The company makes it clear where their coffee beans are sourced: from a family farm in Yirgacheffe that practices organic farming. The coffee is single-origin rather than a blend and is freshly roasted before being shipped to the consumer. All the bags of coffee include a roast date.
Though the family farm where the coffee beans originate practice organic farming methods according to Cubico, there is no official USDA Organic certification. It’s also not Fair Trade Certified. Because of being ground, the coffee goes stale quickly, so be sure to store it in an air-tight container. This coffee also seems to be of unpredictable quality, often having a sour aftertaste.
5. Marley Coffee’s One Love Ethiopian Coffee
Marley Coffee’s One Love 100% Ethiopian Coffee Whole Bean is from a company that cares deeply about sustainability and ethical business practices, so if this is important to you, then you might want to support this brand. The coffee is Fair Trade Certified and partners with One Tree Planted for forest sustainability. The beans are medium-roasted and have a delicious, smooth taste.
However, this isn’t the same One Love formulation that Marley Coffee once had. It’s no longer organic, for one thing. It’s also now a blend of Ethiopian coffee, which means you can’t predict the flavor notes.
6. Coffee Bean Direct Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee
Coffee Bean Direct has a Dark Ethiopian Yirgacheffe variety in whole beans that is both USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. Coffee Bean Direct also offers the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in light roast and even unroasted. The dark roast has flavor notes of lemon, baker’s chocolate, and blueberry.
We appreciate that the company claims to practice small-batch roasting, which keeps the beans fresher, but there are no roast dates printed on the bags. The quality can be unpredictable from bag to bag. Also, Coffee Bean Direct does not specifically name its source for the coffee beans beyond that they are from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. Lastly, if you want light-roast coffee in this variety, there is no organic and Fair Trade Certified option available.
7. Equal Exchange’s Organic Whole Bean Coffee (Ethiopian)
Equal Exchange is the coffee company that brought the Fair Trade policy with small coffee farmers to the U.S., so it’s known as a highly ethical company. Its Ethiopian variety of whole coffee beans is USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. It has flavor notes of blueberry, chocolate, and ginger.
Despite the ethical status of the company, the coffee has unpredictable quality. There is no information about the roast times of the beans, and there are no roast dates printed on the bags. The company does not specifically name the source for its beans, other than they’re from Ethiopia. It’s also a much darker roast than expected, since the provided chart makes it seem like it would be somewhere between a light and medium roast.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Ethiopian Coffee Brand
If you’re wondering exactly what to look for when shopping for the best Ethiopian coffee, then we’ve got you covered. Read on for our buying guide.
The best Ethiopian coffees will be the ones from a single origin because they have predictable flavor profiles. This is great for those who like to try a coffee, fall in love with it, and stick with it. Usually, the more specific a company is about where exactly they acquired their coffee beans, the higher the quality of the coffee.
An organic seal on the bag ensures that no synthetic chemicals or pesticides came into contact with the coffee beans, which is a definite plus. However, some of the coffees listed are from wild coffee trees (like Volcanica) or from family farms that use organic farming practices (like Cubico). It’s therefore helpful to research the company before buying a bag of coffee from them.
A Fair Trade certification ensures that the farmers and growers of the coffee were treated in an ethical way, which is especially important in a country where most of the coffee grown is being exported.
The company should say on its website if the coffee is freshly roasted when ordered or what their specific roasting policy is. The sooner it’s roasted, the fresher the coffee, so the roasting time must be within two weeks. It’s also helpful to have a roast date printed on the bag, so you can be sure when exactly the beans were roasted.
Ethiopian coffee has a naturally fruity and floral taste, but some of the varieties are more citrusy and sour than others. If you don’t like one kind, be sure to try another, as it all depends on the specific farm and region in Ethiopia.
Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is our top pick not only because it’s micro-lot, single-origin coffee, but also, most of it is sourced from wild trees. The coffee is freshly roasted and shipped immediately, so you can be sure of its quality.
Cooper’s Cask Ethiopian is our best ground coffee pick because it’s single-origin coffee from a micro-lot in Ethiopia. It’s also available in four grind sizes and whole bean. This is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants the convenience of ground coffee.
We hope our list of reviews has made it easier to narrow down your choices for the best Ethiopian coffee. Now all that’s left is to pick out your favorite and brew up a fruity-floral cup!
Featured image credit: john-i, Pixabay
Table of Contents
- A Quick Glance at our Favorite Brands of 2023
- The 7 Best Ethiopian Coffees
- 1. Volcanica’s Ethiopian Coffee — Best Overall
- 2. Cooper’s Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee – Best Ground Coffee
- 3. Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC’s Ethiopian Coffee
- 4. Cubico’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Coffee
- 5. Marley Coffee’s One Love Ethiopian Coffee
- 6. Coffee Bean Direct Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee
- 7. Equal Exchange’s Organic Whole Bean Coffee (Ethiopian)
- Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Ethiopian Coffee Brand