Why is Yirgacheffe coffee so good?: 5 main factors

Although coffee is now grown all over the world, Ethiopian green coffee is widely considered the best. In fact, coffee is native to Ethiopia and continues to thrive in the forests of the country's western highlands.

Ethiopian coffee is mainly grown in the following regions: Harar, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Guji and Limu. In Ethiopia, coffee is marketed under the name of the growing region. Therefore, you will often find coffee labeled “ Ethiopian Yirgacheffe ,” “ Ethiopian Sidamo ,” or “ Ethiopian Limu .”

If you are a coffee lover, you have probably heard of Yirgacheffe coffee, one of the most famous coffee beans in Ethiopia and the world. But what makes Yirgacheffe so special? Here are 5 important reasons:

1. Altitude plays a crucial role in increasing the sweetness of coffee beans

One of the distinctive features of the Yirgacheffe coffee growing region is its high altitude with mountain ranges and valleys in between. Yirgacheffe coffee is grown by small farmers at an altitude of 1,700 to 2,200 meters above sea level. Coffee beans grown at high altitudes are hard, dense and have a better flavor . It is generally believed that a coffee's flavor profile becomes sweeter and more pronounced as it increases in elevation.

How do the high mountain ranges of Yirgacheffe provide ideal conditions for growing coffee?

  1. In Yirgacheffe, the average temperature is between 15 and 21º C all year round. The cooler highland climate slows the ripening of the coffee beans and allows the cherries to absorb more nutrients. The result is a coffee bean with more complex sugar content and distinct flavor.
  2. Better drainage at high altitudes and mountainous regions reduces the amount of water in the fruit, which leads to a further concentration of flavors.

2. More genetic variation means a more complex flavor profile.

In coffee, complexity refers to the changing sensation or taste. It is the interaction of different flavors that you experience when drinking a coffee.

Ethiopia, the country of origin of Arabica coffee , has great genetic diversity among its coffee plants. In contrast, the rest of the world's coffee comes to some extent from the few seeds that come from Yemen or Ethiopia. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 types of coffee in Ethiopia. Each of them has its own unique characteristics, including a distinct flavor profile. More than 95% of the genetic material for Arabica coffee comes from Ethiopia. Yirgacheffe coffee is no exception. The region has a rich genetic diversity of coffee varieties. In most cases, farmers have their own unique varieties of coffee. After harvesting, the coffees are blended at a local washing plant, creating a blend of beans from different plants with genetic variations. The result is that Yirgacheffe coffee has a complex flavor profile while maintaining a harmonious overall taste.

3. Harvesting and processing have a major impact on the flavor profile of the coffee

The flavor profiles of Ethiopian coffees are made even more interesting by harvesting and processing methods not found elsewhere.

Coffee cultivation has a long tradition in Yirgacheffe, and the densely forested hills of the Yirgacheffe region are full of coffee-growing settlements where the so-called "garden coffee" is grown. On these slopes, which are not suitable for the use of machines, the farmers carefully pick the coffee cherries by hand, making sure that only the ripe cherries are selected. This selective harvesting process is labor-intensive because the coffee plants often produce ripe and unripe fruit at the same time. However, this careful approach results in higher quality green coffee beans . After harvesting, the Yirgacheffe coffee beans are

Essentially processed in two ways: Natural (or sun-dried) and Washed (or wet processed)

Natural (or sun-dried)

The natural process involves placing the coffee cherries on a raised bed or clean patio to dry in the sun while leaving the fruit intact. The skin and juice of the cherries dry over time in the sun, which can take anywhere from a week to a few weeks depending on the temperature and intensity of the sun.

In general , naturally processed Yirgacheffe coffee has a fruity-sweet taste that results from the bean's prolonged contact with its own natural sugars during the drying process. It is known for its relatively high level of sweetness and medium body, as well as stronger fruit notes such as berries with chocolate undertones.

Washed (wet processed)

Washing involves removing the outer layers of the cherry with a “depulper” within 12 hours of harvest and then soaking it in water for fermentation. After fermentation, the beans are washed again with clean water to remove any remaining layers before being dried in raised beds.

Yirgacheffe washed coffee has bright citrus acidity, a light body, fruity aromas, floral notes and a tea-like smoothness.

4. The rich volcanic soil

The mineral composition of the soil is important, and coffee grows well in volcanic soils. The soil in which the coffee is grown affects the acidity, body and flavor of the coffee. As we know, Yirgacheffe is located in the Great Rift Valley that runs through Ethiopia. The presence of mineral-rich volcanic soil in the region results in high-quality Yirgacheffe green coffee .

It's important to note that soil is just one of several factors that affect coffee flavor. Other factors such as altitude, climate and processing methods also play an important role in the taste of the coffee beans.

5. The extraordinary flavors

One of the most important aspects that sets Yirgacheffe coffee apart is its exceptional flavor profile. The combination of factors such as the tropical humid climate, genetic diversity, altitude, fertile soil and processing methods play an important role in developing the unique characteristics of Yirgacheffe coffee. Yirgacheffe beans exhibit a delicate balance of floral, fruity and citrus notes that produce a truly delicious aroma and taste. A pleasant sweetness awaits you in your cup with hints of jasmine, berries and dark chocolate.

The unique combination of flavors in Yirgacheffe coffee has established its reputation for a complex flavor profile.

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