Ethiopian specialty coffee has up till now not attained its full potential in quality and volumes despite being considered the best in the world, it emerged on Thursday.

According to Imara Equity Research, it is projected that only 1 percent of Ethiopia’s coffee exports are sold as specialty coffee.

Phil Robertson, the co-founder of the Calgary-based Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, believes that this percentage point has the potential to surge 10-fold if problems in coffee processing, among other things, in the country are tackled.

But there are success stories in the country – the Duromina co-operative is a strong case in point.

It was started in south-west Ethiopia by about 100 of the country’s projected one million smallholder coffee farmers. Before the co-operative was started in 2010, the price of coffee from Duromina was low worldwide.

However, Duromina has been capable to retail its 71 tonne harvest of green coffee in 2012 for an average of $3.86/lb, about 65 percent above the average global price.

Duromina achieved this by means of refining agronomic practices, picking only the ripe, red coffee cherries and fitting a wet mill, Imara said in the report.

But the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), which was started in 2008, has changed the manner in which Ethiopian coffee is traded, according to the Imara report.

This has damaged the country’s specialty sector because all coffee from the country is the same, making it tough to classify exclusive varieties, the report said.

But the Portland, Oregon-based company known as Stumptown Coffee Roasters is one of an increasing number of specialty coffee traders heading to Ethiopia looking for the world’s best coffee beans.

“The flavours that you find in the cup of Ethiopian specialty coffee cannot be found anywhere else in the world, combinations of floral and different types of fruits, a really beautiful balance between liveliness and acidity. Good body. Good sweetness,” Adam McClellan, a green coffee buyer for the company, was quoted as saying in the Imara report.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow