Some of the world’s most distinctive coffees are grown in East Africa along a long north-south axis that starts at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula in Yemen and concludes in Zimbabwe in southern Africa, along the way encompassing the highlands of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and several less prominent origins.
These often remarkable coffees are characterized by a variety of striking floral and fruit notes, from the almost perfume-like floral and citrus character of Ethiopia wet-processed coffees through the intensely acidy and berry-toned Kenyas to the soft and voluptuously fruity Zambias. This family of coffees includes two of the world’s oldest and most traditional origins: the Harrar coffees of north-eastern Ethiopia and the coffees of Yemen, just across the Red Sea from Ethiopia. Both of these coffees are picked and put out to dry on rooftops, fruit and all, much as they were when coffee first came onto the world stage in the 17th century. Both display variations on a wild, complex, slightly fermented fruitiness that many coffee lovers find as seductive today as the first coffee drinkers of Europe did in the new coffee houses of Venice and Vienna.