Ethiopian Coffee Culture
Did you know that as well as exporting coffee, Ethiopia has a strong, domestic coffee culture too? It’s estimated that Ethiopians consume around 3.7 million 60kg bags of coffee a year (The country has more than 90 million inhabitants). That’s about half of their total annual production.

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Pascale, who is responsible for managing our farmer relationships was back out in coffee territory; she spends most of her year travelling and visiting producers on behalf of Union. She returned from Ethiopia, a very special coffee heartland, where she visited the Yayu Wild Forest.

One of the last remaining mountain forest fragments of Arabica Coffee (coffee arabica) in the world, the Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere in Ethiopia is vital for the preservation and conservation of coffee.  To preserve and maintain its primary and secondary wild forest, and prevent any further damage to the forest or loss of coffee species,  the local communities need to have other livelihood options as well as seeing a viable future for themselves in producing speciality coffee.

At Union, we are collaborating with Dr Aaron Davis, Head of Coffee Research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to work with the Yayu community to protect the forest and create a sustainable income for themselves. Pascale visited Yayu to evaluate how we would develop the project.

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Los Lajones Natural Geisha, Sweet Princess

Clean and sweet with tangy red apple acidity. Syrupy sweetness, redcurrants and black cherry juice. Candy-like sweetness.

The Geisha varietal is almost the stuff of legend in the coffee world. It’s the genus, the start of it all. It derives from seeds collected in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, for research purposes.

At that time, the Ethiopian Geisha was studied but not widely planted. It was noted for resistance to Leaf Rust, but low yields made it commercially non-viable.  Still, some of those seed,s from a research institute in Costa Rica, were sent to Panama and planted at Finca Esmerelda, owned by the Peterson family.

During cupping sessions at the farm in the early 2000s, some coffees expressed a delicious floral cup. When this was investigated further, this coffee was identified as coming from a particular part of the farm where Geisha trees were grown.

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With the chance of crisp, chilly days still a threat, grab your last chance to enjoy our Winter blend. This medium to full-bodied, harmoniously layered blend is the perfect solution to melt away the last of the winter blues with aromas of plum and candied orange peel, and a lingering vanilla and butterscotch finish.

The elegant sweetness of Liberación from Guatemala is underpinned by the sparkling, citrus acidity provided by Ethiopian Homacho Waeno and complimented by essences of candied fruit from Sumatra’s Gajah Mountain. To finish there’s a creamy butterscotch toffee aftertaste, courtesy of the Bello Horizonte Natural from El Salvador.

How to serve

As an espresso: it’s full and rich and this brewing method will show off the fruity plumlike notes, sweet zesty orange with a nice vanilla butterscotch finish.

With milk: as a flat white or latte, it’s at its best as a small serve of 6-8 ounces to retain the notes.


Enjoy it with


orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting

Discover the beans

Bello Horizonte, El Salvador

Papaya lemon herbal apple and wine sweet toffee

Varietal – bourbon

Process – natural, sun-dried


Gajah Mountain, Sumatra

Plum, blackberry and sweet candied fruits and a deep rich body

Varietal – typica, bourbon, tim tim

Process – sun-dried


Liberación, Guatemala

refreshingly fruity with notes of floral jasmine

Varietal – bourbon, pache, typica, catuai

Process – washed, sun-dried


Homacho Waeno, Ethiopia

sparkling sweet citrus acidity medium body with a lingering honeyed aftertaste

Varietal – mixed heirloom

Process – washed, sun-dried


Winter Birdhouse photo from Tom Bee’s photostream under a Creative Commons licence

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