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7 Best Ethiopian Coffee Brands of 2020 — Reviews & Top Picks

ethiopian coffee beans on a mat

Did you know that Arabica coffee originated in Ethiopia? There’s an old story about a goat herder in the 9th century first discovering the coffee bean because he noticed his flock becoming energized after eating a certain type of berry. Those berries eventually became known as coffee beans, and their popularity spread quickly throughout Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Whether this story is true or not, coffee has been around in Ethiopia for centuries.

So, if you’re looking for the best Ethiopian coffee, you may have noticed that there are countless choices on the market today. We’re here to help! We’ve narrowed down the list to seven coffees and provided reviews for each one, thus giving you the ultimate buying guide for Ethiopian coffee. Read on for our best-of list.


A Quick Glance at our Favorite Brands of 2020

ImageProductDetails
Best Overall
Winner
Volcanica Volcanica
  • Gathered from wild coffee trees
  • Strong flavor
  • Freshly roasted and immediately shipped
  • Best Ground Coffee
    Second place
    Cooper’s Cask Single Origin Cooper’s Cask Single Origin
  • Farm Gate coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: lemon tart, raw honey, and floral nectar
  • Available in whole bean or four grind sizes
  • Third place
    Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC
  • USDA Organic
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Predictable flavor
  • Cubico Coffee Yirgacheffe Cubico Coffee Yirgacheffe
  • Flavor notes: lime, floral, and chocolate
  • Single-origin coffee
  • From an organic family farm
  • Marley Coffee One Love Marley Coffee One Love
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Medium roast
  • Smooth taste
  • The 7 Best Ethiopian Coffees

    1. Volcanica’s Ethiopian Coffee — Best Overall

    Ethiopian Coffee, Yirgacheffe Region

    Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is some of the best coffee you can find. Most of the product is gathered from wild coffee trees in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, and the rest is estate coffee, meaning it comes from a single farm or estate. It has delicious fruity and floral notes of ripe strawberry, pineapple, guava, dark chocolate, and lavender. The flavor is strong and noticeable. Volcanica is a brand that freshly roasts its coffee and ships it out immediately.

    The only negative is that this particular variety of Volcanica coffee doesn’t have official organic or fair-trade seals. However, most of the coffee is harvested from wild trees, so there shouldn’t be much, if any, chemical and pesticide residue. It may not be officially Fair Trade, but the coffee does come from a single farm/estate in Ethiopia.

    Pros
    • Gathered from wild coffee trees
    • Flavor notes: ripe strawberry, pineapple, guava, dark chocolate, and lavender
    • Strong flavor
    • Freshly roasted and immediately shipped
    • Estate coffee, so the coffee comes from a single farm or estate
    Cons
    • No official organic or fair-trade seals

    2. Cooper’s Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee – Best Ground Coffee

    COOPERS Cask Coffee

    If you prefer to buy pre-ground coffee, Cooper’s Ethiopian Light Roast could be for you. It’s conveniently available in four grind sizes (French press, drip, espresso, and Turkish), along with whole bean.

    Even better, Cooper’s Ethiopian is unique in that it offers Farm Gate beans, meaning the coffee was purchased directly from the farmer’s “gate.” This is one way you can be sure that you’re supporting coffee farmers in Ethiopia. This is also micro-lot and single-origin coffee, which is when the coffee beans come from one particular field or farm in Ethiopia. If you’re looking to fall in love with one flavor profile and stick with it, then buying micro-lot, single-origin coffee is the way to go. This one has citrusy-floral notes of lemon tart, raw honey, and floral nectar.

    Unlike Volcanica, there’s no guarantee that the beans are roasted promptly, and there’s no roast date on the package to confirm exactly when they were roasted either. However, these single-origin beans are certified Organic and Fair Trade.

    Pros
    • Farm Gate coffee beans that are Organic and Fair Trade
    • Flavor notes: lemon tart, raw honey, and floral nectar
    • Small-batch roasting and micro-lot, single-origin
    • Available in whole bean or four grind sizes
    Cons
    • Possibly less fresh
    • No roast date

    3. Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC’s Ethiopian Coffee

    fresh roasted coffee ethiopian

    Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is both USDA organic and Fair Trade Certified. It has a single origin in the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia, which gives it a predictable flavor profile of sweet tangerine, lemon tea, and lime. This is another coffee company that freshly roasts the beans and immediately ships out the coffee. The medium roast is suitable for a wide variety of tastes.

    Despite the company’s statement on their website that they roast the beans and immediately ship, there are no roast dates on the coffee bags, so you can’t confirm the exact date. Also, this particular variety can be a little citrusy for some palettes. Many have described it as “sour” for this reason.

    Pros
    • USDA Organic
    • Flavor notes: sweet tangerine, lemon tea, lime
    • Fair Trade Certified
    • Freshly roasted and immediately shipped
    • Predictable flavor
    Cons
    • No roast date
    • Taste can be a little sour and citrusy for some

    4. Cubico’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Coffee

    Cubico Coffee

    If you love the convenience of ground coffee or simply don’t have a coffee grinder, Cubico’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Coffee could be a good pick. The company makes it clear where their coffee beans are sourced: from a family farm in Yirgacheffe that practices organic farming. The coffee is single-origin rather than a blend and is freshly roasted before being shipped to the consumer. All the bags of coffee include a roast date.

    Though the family farm where the coffee beans originate practice organic farming methods according to Cubico, there is no official USDA Organic certification. It’s also not Fair Trade Certified. Because of being ground, the coffee goes stale quickly, so be sure to store it in an air-tight container. This coffee also seems to be of unpredictable quality, often having a sour aftertaste.

    Pros
    • Flavor notes: lime, floral, and chocolate
    • Single-origin coffee
    • Freshly roasted and immediately shipped
    • From an organic family farm
    • Includes roast date
    Cons
    • No official organic or fair-trade seals
    • Because of the grind, goes stale quickly
    • Unpredictable quality

    5. Marley Coffee’s One Love Ethiopian Coffee


    Marley Coffee’s One Love 100% Ethiopian Coffee Whole Bean is from a company that cares deeply about sustainability and ethical business practices, so if this is important to you, then you might want to support this brand. The coffee is Fair Trade Certified and partners with One Tree Planted for forest sustainability. The beans are medium-roasted and have a delicious, smooth taste.

    However, this isn’t the same One Love formulation that Marley Coffee once had. It’s no longer organic, for one thing. It’s also now a blend of Ethiopian coffee, which means you can’t predict the flavor notes.

    Pros
    • Fair Trade Certified
    • Company partners with One Tree Planted for forest sustainability
    • Medium roast
    • Smooth taste
    Cons
    • Not organic
    • Coffee blend
    • No predictable coffee flavor notes

    6. Coffee Bean Direct Ethiopian Whole Bean Coffee

    Coffee Bean Direct Ethiopian

    Coffee Bean Direct has a Dark Ethiopian Yirgacheffe variety in whole beans that is both USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. Coffee Bean Direct also offers the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in light roast and even unroasted. The dark roast has flavor notes of lemon, baker’s chocolate, and blueberry.

    We appreciate that the company claims to practice small-batch roasting, which keeps the beans fresher, but there are no roast dates printed on the bags. The quality can be unpredictable from bag to bag. Also, Coffee Bean Direct does not specifically name its source for the coffee beans beyond that they are from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. Lastly, if you want light-roast coffee in this variety, there is no organic and Fair Trade Certified option available.

    Pros
    • Available in light roast, dark roast, and unroasted
    • Flavor notes: lemon, baker’s chocolate, and blueberry
    • Organic and Fair Trade
    • Small-batch roasting
    Cons
    • No roast date
    • If you want light roast, there is no organic and Fair Trade Certified available
    • Unpredictable quality
    • Company does not make known its source for the coffee beans

    7. Equal Exchange’s Organic Whole Bean Coffee (Ethiopian)

    Equal Exchange Organic

    Equal Exchange is the coffee company that brought the Fair Trade policy with small coffee farmers to the U.S., so it’s known as a highly ethical company. Its Ethiopian variety of whole coffee beans is USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. It has flavor notes of blueberry, chocolate, and ginger.

    Despite the ethical status of the company, the coffee has unpredictable quality. There is no information about the roast times of the beans, and there are no roast dates printed on the bags. The company does not specifically name the source for its beans, other than they’re from Ethiopia. It’s also a much darker roast than expected, since the provided chart makes it seem like it would be somewhere between a light and medium roast.

    Pros
    • USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified
    • Flavor notes: blueberry, chocolate, and ginger
    • Highly ethical company
    Cons
    • Unpredictable quality
    • No information on roast times
    • No roast dates on bags
    • Company does not specifically name source for its beans
    • Darker roast than expected

    Buyer’s Guide

    If you’re wondering exactly what to look for when shopping for Ethiopian coffee, then we’ve got you covered. Read on for our buying guide.

    Origin

    The best Ethiopian coffees will be the ones from a single origin because they have predictable flavor profiles. This is great for those who like to try a coffee, fall in love with it, and stick with it. Usually, the more specific a company is about where exactly they acquired their coffee beans, the higher the quality of the coffee.

    Organic

    An organic seal on the bag ensures that no synthetic chemicals or pesticides came into contact with the coffee beans, which is a definite plus. However, some of the coffees listed are from wild coffee trees (like Volcanica) or from family farms that use organic farming practices (like Cubico). It’s therefore helpful to research the company before buying a bag of coffee from them.

    Fair Trade

    A Fair Trade certification ensures that the farmers and growers of the coffee were treated in an ethical way, which is especially important in a country where most of the coffee grown is being exported.

    Fresh coffee cherries Ethiopia
    Ripe coffee cherries from an Ethiopian farm

    Roasting Times

    The company should say on its website if the coffee is freshly roasted when ordered or what their specific roasting policy is. The sooner it’s roasted, the fresher the coffee, so the roasting time must be within two weeks. It’s also helpful to have a roast date printed on the bag, so you can be sure when exactly the beans were roasted.

    Flavors

    Ethiopian coffee has a naturally fruity and floral taste, but some of the varieties are more citrusy and sour than others. If you don’t like one kind, be sure to try another, as it all depends on the specific farm and region in Ethiopia.

    divider 7

    Conclusion

    Volcanica’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean Coffee is our top pick not only because it’s micro-lot, single-origin coffee, but also, most of it is sourced from wild trees. The coffee is freshly roasted and shipped immediately, so you can be sure of its quality.

    Cooper’s Cask Ethiopian is our best ground coffee pick because it’s single-origin coffee from a micro-lot in Ethiopia. It’s also available in four grind sizes and whole bean. This is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants the convenience of ground coffee.

    We hope our list of reviews has made it easier to narrow down your choices for the best Ethiopian coffee. Now all that’s left is to pick out your favorite and brew up a fruity-floral cup!


    Featured image credit: john-i, Pixabay

    Kate MacDonnell

    Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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