Settled agriculture began in Ethiopia some 2,000 years ago. Since time immemorial, coffee arabica has been grown in the wild forests of the south-western massive highlands of the Kaffa and Buno districts of the country. Ethiopia is the primary centre of origin and genetic diversity of the Arabica coffee plant, earlier known as jasminum arabicum laurifolia.
With coffee thus a commodity crop earlier than 1500, Ethiopia is the oldest coffee exporter in the world, though external invasions and internal conflicts have at times had a negative impact on the country's coffee export history.
Coffee export in Harar and Gerri goes back to earlier than 1810. In 1838, Rupell recorded the export of 100 quintals of Enarea-coffee (now Liumu-Seka, Jimma) via Massawa. In the 19th century, tow coffee types, "specialty coffee", were exported as first and second grade Harari coffee and Abyssinia coffee to London, Marseilles, New York and Trieste.
Ethiopian Muslim merchants transported coffee and other goods in caravans of mules, camels and donkeys. Export was dominated and facilitated by foreigners of more than 140 different nations, including Greeks, Armenians, Germans, Belgians, Indians, Lebanese, Turks and Yemenis.
Kenya Coffee works diligently to assure quality in all beans that are exported. The coffee is cultivated on small farms, and the growers are rewarded with high prices for quality beans. The main growing region in Kenya extends south of 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya to near the capital of Nairobi. Kenyan coffee is wet-processed and sold by the size of the bean, with AA signifying the largest beans, followed by A and B. The best Kenyan coffee, called Estate Kenya, can cost twice as much as regular AA's, but is worth the price. The tremendous body, astounding winy acidity and black-current flavor and aroma make Estate Kenya one of the finest coffees in the world.
On the west coast of Africa, the Ivory Coast is one of the world's largest producers of robusta coffee. In the mid 1990s it was the largest African coffee producer, fifth in the world overall and second for the production of Robusta. Since then it has dropped to number nine in the world. Some speculate that this is due to an emphasis on volume and a lack of investment and planning have lowered quality and per-acre productivity. 45% of the working population make a living from coffee. However, this vital source of revenue is at the mercy of droughts. Moreover, farmers sometimes prefer to grow cocoa as it requires less work and is often more profitable.
Today, most exports end up as mass-market coffee in Europe, especially France and Italy. Coffees from the Ivory Coast are strongly aromatic with a light body and acidity. They are also ideally suited for a darker roast and are therefore, often used in espresso blends.
In ancient times, when coffee was shipped from the famous Yemeni port of Mocha to destinations all over the world, the word 'Mocha' became synonymous with Arabian coffee. Mocha is one of the more confusing terms in the coffee vocabulary. The coffee we call Mocha today is grown, as it has been for hundreds of years in the mountains of Yemen, at the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. It was originally shipped through the ancient port of Mocha, which has since seen its harbor blocked by a sandbar. The name Mocha has become so permanently a part of the world's coffee vocabulary that it sticks to a coffee that should really be described today as Yemen or even Arabian.
The other ambiguity derives from the famed chocolate aftertaste of Arabian Mocha, which caused an enthusiast to use the same name for the traditional mixture of hot chocolate and coffee. The Dutch combined Arabian coffee with coffee grown on the island of Java, thus making popular the first coffee blend -- one that is still well-known today -- Mocha Java
Arabian Mocha, grown in the northern mountains of Yemen, is one of the oldest and most traditional of the world's coffees. It is also one of the finest. This coffee has been cultivated and processed in the same way for centuries, grown on mountain terraces and naturally dried. No chemicals are used in its production, and it is no doubt organic. Mocha is a balanced coffee with medium to full body, good acidity and chocolate undertones. Two famous market names for this coffee are Mattari and Sanani. Sanani mochas have a wild, fruity acidity, while Mattari mochas are known for their full body and chocolate undertones.
In the country where coffee was first commercially cultivated, one still finds coffee growing in the age-old, century-proven manner. Within the small, terraced gardens of family farms, one can almost always find a few coffee trees. Water is scarce in this arid land and coffee beans grown here tend to be smaller, and more irregular in size and shape. Lack of water also means that the coffee cherries will be dry processed after harvest. The result is that one finds in Yemeni coffee a distinctive taste that is deep, rich and like no other.