Ethiopia - MC Grecof

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Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, one exception being the Italian occupation of 1936-41. In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), in 1991. A constitution was adopted in 1994 and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995. A two and a half year border war with Eritrea that ended with a peace treaty on 12 December 2000 has strengthened the ruling coalition, but has hurt the nation's economy.



Eastern Africa, west of Somalia

Map references::



total: 1,127,127 sq km
land: 1,119,683 sq km
water: 7,444 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 5,311 km
border countries: Djibouti 337 km, Eritrea 912 km, Kenya 830 km, Somalia 1,626 km, Sudan 1,606 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


tropical monsoon with wide topographic-induced variation


high plateau with central mountain range divided by Great Rift Valley

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Denakil Depression -125 m
highest point: Ras Dejen 4,620 m

Natural resources:

small reserves of gold, platinum, copper, potash, natural gas, hydropower

Geography - note:

landlocked - entire coastline along the Red Sea was lost with the de jure independence of Eritrea on 24 May 1993





estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2001 est.)


noun: Ethiopian(s)
adjective: Ethiopian

Ethnic groups:

Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1%


Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%


Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromigna, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)


Country name:

conventional long form: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
conventional short form: Ethiopia
local long form: Ityop'iya Federalawi Demokrasiyawi Ripeblik
local short form: Ityop'iyaformer: Abyssinia, Italian East Africa
abbreviation: FDRE

Government type:

federal republic


Addis Ababa

Flag description:

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and red with a yellow pentagram and single yellow rays emanating from the angles between the points on a light blue disk centered on the three bands; Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, and the colors of her flag were so often adopted by other African countries upon independence that they became known as the pan-African colors


Economy - overview:

Ethiopia's economy is based on agriculture, which accounts for half of GDP, 90% of exports, and 80% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent periods of drought and poor cultivation practices, and as many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually. Coffee is critical to the Ethiopian economy, and Ethiopia earned $267 million in 1999 by exporting 105,000 metric tons. According to current estimates, coffee contributes 10% of Ethiopia's GDP. More than 15 million people (25% of the population) derive their livelihood from the coffee sector. Other exports include live animals, hides, gold, and qat. In December 1999, Ethiopia signed a $1.4 billion joint venture deal to develop a huge natural gas field in the Somali Regional State. The war with Eritrea forced the government to spend scarce resources on the military and to scale back ambitious development plans. Foreign investment has declined significantly. Government taxes imposed in late 1999 to raise money for the war depressed an already weak economy. The war forced the government to improve roads and other parts of the previously neglected infrastructure, but only certain regions of the nation benefited. Recovery from the war is mostly contingent on natural factors. A drought has continued into the end of 2000 and food relief is expected to be needed through mid-2001 at least. Ethiopia may receive Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief by the end of the year.


food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metals processing, cement

Agriculture - products:

cereals, pulses, coffee, oilseed, sugarcane, potatoes, qat; hides, cattle, sheep, goats


birr (ETB)

Currency code:




total: 681 km (Ethiopian segment of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad)
narrow gauge: 681 km 1.000-m gauge
note: in April 1998, Djibouti and Ethiopia announced plans to revitalize the century-old railroad that links their capitals; since May 1998 Ethiopia has expended considerable effort to repair and maintain the lines


total: 24,145 km
paved: 3,290 km
unpaved: 20,855 km (1998)



Ports and harbors:

none; Ethiopia is landlocked and was by agreement with Eritrea using the ports of Assab and Massawa; since the border dispute with Eritrea flared, Ethiopia has used the port of Djibouti for nearly all of its imports


Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is on the high plains of the Harar (or Hararghe) region that coffee arabica grew wild. Coffee is "Bun" or "Buni" in Ethiopia, coffee was cultivated in Kaffa region, so Coffee Bean is quite possibly a poor anglicized interpretation of "Kaffa Bun". Ethiopian coffees are available from some regions as dry-processed, from some regions as washed, and from Sidamo as both! The difference between the cup profiles of the natural dry-processed vs. the washed is profound. Washed Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Limmu have lighter body and less earthy / wild tastes in the cup as their dry-processed kinfolk. Ethiopian coffees can vary greatly from lot to lot. It takes A LOT of cupping to find the specific lot of coffee that is superior. MAO Horse imports a lot of coffee, but each year one specific "chop" (lot number) out-cups the others. Since lots differ in character, and I do so much to find the best lot, we are now listing the Lot Number in the description of the coffee. When I find that coffee, I buy the majority of the year's coffee immediately, leaving a small opening in case any other good lots come along later in the season. But my experience has been that early shippings of the DP Ethiopians are often the best of the season, in contradiction to many other origins where the earliest are often underdeveloped, lower-grown coffees and the mid-crop pickings are better...

A brief word about the grading of Ethiopian Coffees: The top grade Ethiopian washed coffees (Yirgacheffe and Sidamo, usually) might bear a Grade 2 or 3, dry-processed will be 4 or 5 by nature of the preparation method. Oftentimes, a Grade 4 will be marked grade 5 to save on taxes and duties. The whole system is very unreliable and seemingly arbitrary. But we judge coffee by cup quality via blind cupping: not the marks of the bag.


Ethiopia is a
Member of the I.C.O.  "Unwashed Arabicas" group (with Brazil)
Member of the Lomé Agreement A.C.P.

Cultivated area :

458,057 hectares
+ approximate 50,000 ha of wild, unexploited coffee trees.

Farms :

Number unknown especially since the agrarian reform begun in 1975.
The very numerous small family farms are grouped into 84 cooperatives: methods of production

a) coffee picked in the forest without any additional work: Kaffa, Illubabor
- decreasing in size due to expansion of cultivation and destruction of
the forest areas
- 5% of production

b) semi-domestication of the forest coffee: Kaffa, lllubabor
- weeding is practiced once a year to facilitate the coffee picking
- 5% of production

c) traditional cultivation: reproduction by seedlings.

d) modern plantation

Area of farms :

85% are lass than 2 hectares
50 to 60 large plantations
9 modern plantations account for 7,500 ha produce 203,000 tonnes.

Number of trees :

Estimated at 1,500, 000,000.

Harvest :


ab October

First shipment :


Period of exportation :

Unwashed : spread out through the whole year,
Washed : November/December to February.

Preparation :

Unwashed : spread out through the whole year,
Washed : November/December to February.

Drying :

Sun-drying on earth drying grounds concrete drying grounds staging,

Sorting :

Machine cleaning
- done in Addis Ababa for all coffees except the Harrar, which is done in Dire Dawa


1 to 8

Definitions of classifications

Grad 1 

0-3 defects


Grad 2

4-12 defects (U.G.Q.)


Grad 3

13-25 defects (Usual Good Quality)


Grad 4

26-45 defects


Grad 5

46-100 defects


Grad 6

101-153 defects


Grad 7

154-340 defects - exports prohibited


Grad 8

über 340 defects = Sub-Standard

Commercial classifications:

Unwashed grade 5 UGQ
Unwashed Harrar Short Berry handpicked
Long Berry handpicked
Semi Washed Bold grain
Double sifted
Double handpicked
Washed According to place of production:
- Limu : village to the north of Diimah
- Sidamo : province to the south of Addis Ababa

Descriptions of qualities :

See table further on.


3.3 million bags, this is only an estimate, as great deal of coffee grows
wild in the Southwest, in inaccessible, and therefore unexploited, areas

Regions of production:

Regions Districts apr. Production
Center Shod Chebo and Ourage 6,879 t
Kembara end Hadiya
Illubador Sorna Geba 30,235 t
Buno Bedele West
Ghimbi 17,276 t
Wollega Lekempti
Mali and Goldia
Southwest Kaffa Gimira 35,100 t
South Sidamo Wolaita 35,062 t
Gamou Gofa Geleb and Harner Baco 1,859 t
Southeast Arbagugu
Arussi Ticho 432 t
Wabe 1,596 t
Bale Fasil
Harrar Zuriya
East Harrar Tchertcher 17,460 t
Gara Muletta


1,300/2,100 meters (4,26416,888 ft)


End of March/April-May in June in Harrar.


June to September.


Only ripe cherries are picked one by one by hand

Commercial Circuit:


the producer brings his dried cherries to the nearest EC.M.C. purchasing unit or private traders known as "SEBSABYS", where the coffee is hulled and sold to the EC.M.C. or private traders known as 'AKRABYS", which bring the coffee to Addis Abeba or Dire Dawa for


processed at the washing station closest to the place of
production. Parchment coffee is forwarded to Addis Abeba (the parchment protects the coffee from road dust and the risk of discoloration during transit) where it is classified, sold by auction, cleaned and shipped to the ports.


1.4 million bags + smuggling to Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya. Exporters 17 private firms. 90 % of exportation is controlled by the government organization.

Ports of Exportation:

Assab : Ethiopian port linked with Addis Abeba by road transport across the Danakil desert.


a port linked with Addibs Abeba (550 km) by railroad via Dire Dawa.

Sales Terms:

F. O. B.


Unwashed : price quoted in cents; Ib.
Washed :   
price quoted in U.S. $150 kg.
Harrar :     
price quoted in U.S. $/metric ton.
Payment :  
By irrevocable Letter of Credit.

Main Buyers:

Unwashed : United States, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia.
Washed :   
West Germany, Scandinavia, France.
Harrar :     
Saudi Arabia, Japan, France.

Regularoty Agency:

Ministry of Coffee and Tea Development regulates production and marketing.


Djibouti etwa 550 km von Addis Abeba entfernt.

Caffeine content:

1,13 %












Sidamo / Yrga Cheffe

Mixture:small to medium

Greenish Slightly coated (silver skin)

Normal central crease Compact, well-developed beans

Fair acidity   Thin body

Delicate aroma Précised location




Identical with washed Sidamo

Greenish brown Coated

NormalSeveral lightish and brown beans narrow central crease

Fair to light acidity average to thin body

Occasionally ordinary aroma



Limu / Bebeka

Oval shapeLarger than the SidamoShorter than the Wollega

Greenish Coated

NormalCentral crease slightly open soft appearance

Fair to light acidity fair body

Good cup, balanced, excellentaroma, one of the best washedEthiopian coffeesBebeka : few known




Identical with washed Kaffa

Brownish very coated

Rather dul lOpen, brown central crease Several lightish beans soft appearance

Fair to light acidity good heavy body

Slightly dominated by anordinary aroma



Flavor similar to that of "Rio"



Ghimbi / Lekempti

Oval beans, medium to large mostly long and pointed

Green very coated

Shiny normal central crease Slightly open soft appearance

Fair acidity Average to thin body Finer cup than the Kaffa and Sidamo

Generally clean cup, characteristic wild aroma



Ghimbi / Lekempti

Identical with washedWollega

Yellowish Green very coated

Rather dull Lightish color open, brown central crease sot appearance

Fair acidity average to thin body

Dominated by a wild aroma



Can be blended with Djimahfor a better quality



Harrar L. Berry

Medium to largeLong, pointed beansGenerally called "Longberry" Harrar

Greyish Slightly coated F.A.Q. (Fair Average Quality)

Normalbrownish (uneven)Central crease slightly open rather soft appearance very few lightish beans good roast in general

Fair to light acidity, Heavy body, soft andslightly wild, typical moka flavour, free of any bad tastes

The best high-altitudeunwashed Arabica grown in Ethiopia attains the highest prices in the world coffeemarket



Rather strong acidity and body, Different from other types in the cup

Can be blended with illubador Dijmah and Shoa (better quality)

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