Reginal coffee profile: Africa

Bright, winey, smooth, intense… Africa, largely believed to be the birthplace of coffee, possesses extraordinary coffee growing conditions with its soaring, majestic mountain ranges, consistent equatorial climate, and pristine old growth forests. From crisp and clean to exotic and honey-toned, African coffees have an elegant, assertive complexity bound to bewitch all who love a bright, crisp, powerful brew.*

Please note that this blog only covers African countries predominantly growing shade-grown, high-grown, arabicas and only references arabica coffee.

REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS

  • Acidity: High / Moderate-high
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Roast: Medium to Full city
  • Common identifying words: Bright, winey, fruity, smooth, crisp, intense
  • Prominent flavor tones: Ripe berry, red wine, rich citrus
  • Most common varietals: Bourbon

Africa3.png

BURUNDI

  • Growing regions: Bugesera, Buyenzi, Bweru, Kayanza, Kirimiro, Mumirwa, Ngozi
  • Harvest: April – June
  • Varietals: Bourbon

  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Good
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Deep berry, citrus, mild spice
  • Takeaway: Bold, bright, and flavorful with deep sweet and spice notes

Burundi coffee is clean and bright with a moderate mouthfeel, wonderful acidity, and deep chocolate notes beneath hints of exotic fruit and delicate spice.

Burundi.jpg

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

  • Growing regions: Ituri, Kivu
  • Harvest: March – June
  • Varietals: Bourbon

  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Rich
  • Dominant flavor notes: Fruit, berry, lemon, sweet chocolate
  • Takeaway: Bright, smooth, floral, and sweet with hints of raw chocolate

Congo coffee is brilliantly acidic with excellent mouthfeel and smooth berry and floral notes. While delicate and bright in nature, Congolese coffee has a rustic, wild edge sure to enthrall African coffee lovers!

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Lake Kivu

ETHIOPIA

  • Growing regions: Bebeka, Harrar, Jimma (Djimmah), Lekempti, Limu, Sidamo (Yirgacheffe is a subregion of Sidamo), Wallega
  • Harvest: October – December
  • Varietals: Ethiopia Genika and other heirloom varieties

  • Acidity: Moderate-high
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Citrus, wine, delicate fruit
  • Takeaway: Bright and elegant with a honey-like texture and refined fruit notes

Ethiopian coffee is bright and delicate with a smooth, honey-like texture and gentle wine and spice notes. Ethiopian beans regularly have floral overtones giving them a vibrant, sweet aroma.

Note: Ethiopia is the often cited as the birthplace of coffee.

ethiopa.jpg
Ethiopian Harvesters

KENYA

  • Growing regions: Bungoma, Embu, Kakamega, Kasii, Kericho, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Machakos, Makueni, Murang’a, Nakuru, Nyanza, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, Tharaka, Thika, Tran-Nzoia, Vihiga
  • Harvest: October – January
  • Varietals: Batian, French Mission Bourbon, K7 Riuri 11, SL-28, SL-34

  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Dark berries, rich citrus, blackcurrant, wine
  • Takeaway: Crisp, bold, and intense with rich berry and deep wine notes

Kenya is extraordinarily intense with a full mouthfeel and base notes of deep red wine, blackberry, and cocoa. The close is light, crisp, and clean and the aroma is outstanding. Overall an exceptional coffee for acidity lovers!

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Bag of Keya AA coffee

RWANDA

  • Growing regions: Akagera, Butare, Gishamwana Island, Huye, Karongi, Kivu, Ngoma, Muhazi, Nyanza, Nyamagabe, Nyamasheke, Rulindo, Tumba, Virunga
  • Harvest: March – June
  • Varietals: Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, French Mission Bourbon, Mibirizi

  • Acidity: Moderate
  • Body: Good
  • Mouthfeel: Full
  • Dominant flavor notes: Bright citrus, sweet berry, mild chocolate
  • Takeaway: Balanced, bright coffee with lively citrus and sweet berry notes

Rwandan coffee is delicate and bright with a moderate mouthfeel, elegant floral aroma, and sweet berry and chocolate base notes. Rwandans are generally very clean and refined.

sunrise-over-lake-2098367_1280.jpg
The mountains surrounding Lake Kivu, where some of Rwanda’s best coffee grows.

TANZANIA

  • Growing regions: Kilimanjaro, MbeyaMorogoroKigoma, Mount MeruArusha, Ruvuma, Tarime
  • Harvest: July – December
  • Varietals: Bourbon, Kent

  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Moderate to full
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Melon, delicate fruit, citrus
  • Takeaway: Bright with a round, full mouthfeel, good balance, good acidity, and mellow fruit notes

Tanzanian coffee is bright and balanced with a rich butterscotch-like mouthfeel and vibrant citrus notes over a rich melon / delicate fruit-toned base.

kilamanjaro.jpg
Mt. Kilamonjaro. Coffee is primarily harvested from the northern slopes.

YEMEN*

  • Growing regions: Amran, Bani Hammad, Bani Mater, Bura’a, Haraaz, Haimateen, Yafe’e
  • Harvest: October – January
  • Varietals: Dawairi, Jaadi, Tuffahi

  • Acidity: Moderate
  • Body: Full
  • Mouthfeel: Smooth
  • Dominant flavor notes: Bittersweet chocolate, fruit, spice
  • Takeaway: Bright with rich cocoa and wine notes

Yemen’s coffee is rich and chocolatey (think Yemen Mocha) with subtle wine and spice notes. Yemen is much deeper than Africans, with a creamy cocoa base and natural upper spice notes inherent to Indonesian coffees.

AdenMtYemen.jpg
Aden Mountain

ZIMBABWE

  • Growing regions: Eastern Highlands
  • Harvest: June – November
  • Varietals: Catimor

  • Acidity: High
  • Body: Good
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate
  • Dominant flavor notes: Brown sugar, lemon rind, white pepper
  • Takeaway: Bright and balanced with good body, subtle sweet notes, and a clean rustic citrus close

Zimbabwe’s coffee has marvelous acidity, good body, and a smooth caramel-like base that leads to a sharp, clean rustic close.

*Yemen, though technically in Indonesia, is included in our Africa profile blog due to its taste profile and striking African-like coffee characteristics.

Map source gifex

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