Happy woman harvesting coffee beans

African Coffee: Where it Comes From and Why it’s Special

Posted by Bonny James M on

Happy woman harvesting coffee beans


If you’re a passionate coffee drinker, you probably already know that some of the best beans in the world come from Africa, but do you know what makes this coffee so unique and special? 

From the high-altitude plantations of Kenya to the volcanic soil and cool breezes of Tanzania, the continent of Africa boasts some of the most diverse and distinctly flavorful coffees available today. Beyond the grocery store aisles and the coffee shop menus, let’s look at what makes African coffee so special and learn more about how you can savor and explore these rich tastes at home.

The Birthplace of Coffee

While Viennese, Colombian, and Australian coffees have become popular in recent decades, the incredible coffee bean actually has its roots in Africa. Long considered the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia actually brings us one of the very first caffeinated legends. Intrigued by the energizing effects he witnessed in his herd after eating the fruit of a particular bush, a goat herder named Kaldi is said to have eaten some, enjoying the now-familiar surge of energy and alertness coffee has come to be known for today.

Who would have known that this moment would eventually give rise to many of the traditions we continue today including the roasting, grinding, and brewing of coffee? And while the complex, fruity and floral notes have grown to become flavor associated with Africa, the continent actually boasts a rich and diverse range of coffees to suit a wide variety of tastes.

Diverse Flavors Across Africa

Along with part of South America, much of the African continent actually sits within the “coffee belt,” a region near the equator known for its favorable growing climate. Many countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda all offer unique coffees that cover the entire spectrum of flavors. Where Kenyan coffees might be revered for their acidity and vibrance, Rwandan coffees trend more towards balanced flavors that hint at nuts and caramel.

What Sets African Coffee Apart

When describing coffees from Africa, it’s not uncommon to hear enthusiasts talk about the unique combination of factors that makes African coffee so unique. From its growing environment to the traditional processing techniques, there’s a lot that helps set these coffees apart.

One of the more unique elements is that many African coffee farms are situated in high elevations (often more than 1,000 feet above sea level), which allows the beans to mature more slowly, giving them more time to develop their richness and acidity. Similarly, the continent’s wide variety of microclimates and soils also play key roles in influencing the final taste and character of the coffee. 

African coffees are also quite well known for the traditional ways they are processed, forgoing faster, less attentive methods in favor of slower, more labor-intensive cultivation. In Ethiopia, for instance, the preference for fruitier, more chocolatey flavors is cultivated using a traditional “dry” method, where the coffee beans are often dried with their fruits still on. While in Kenya, the beans are often washed prior to drying to develop a cleaner, more refined taste.

Sustainability and Community Impact

Something else that makes African coffee so remarkable is the direct, positive impacts farming has on local communities and the environment. Many of the producers (including all of the ones we work with here at RichlandHub) adhere to sustainable farming practices and organic methods that were born from conservation but sustained through tradition over the generations. 

By supporting companies like RichlandHub, you not only get to enjoy a great cup of coffee, but you’re also contributing to the fair treatment and sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farming operations and the economic growth of their communities.

Exploring the Diverse Flavors of Africa

Developing an appreciation for African coffee can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Experimenting with different beans from various regions can introduce you to a host of unique processes, flavors, and brewing methods. At RichlandHub, we always provide detailed descriptions and tasting notes to fully appreciate and enjoy our coffees, offering drinkers unique and rewarding experiences both within and outside of their comfort zones.

The Future of African Coffee

With ongoing investments in sustainable practices and fair trade, the African continent is only going to improve its standing in the premium coffee industry. Despite the many challenges posed by climate change and market access, the future is very bright for coffee growers across the continent as global demand continues to rise.

As more consumers look for ethically sourced and environmentally friendly coffee options, these robust and sustainable coffees only stand to grow in popularity. With continued development and traditional practices, it is an exciting time to be a fan of these extraordinary coffees.

Discover Africa’s Finest Coffees

With a rich history, diverse processes, and sustainable practices, African coffee offers drinkers an unparalleled palate experience. By supporting ethical, sustainable agriculture, every cup you enjoy will allow you to delight your taste buds and indulge your conscience. 

Discover the flavors that make African coffee so special. Visit our shop today.

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