Compared to the classic coffee flavors that come from South America, African coffees are quite unique and have a wide range of flavors. The types of coffee in Africa are so distinctive, in fact, that they’re commonly considered specialty coffees and are loved by coffee connoisseurs around the world!
But there are quite a few coffee-producing countries in Africa. So, which country’s coffee should you try and what can you expect from your first sip?
In this post, we’re going to let you know which African countries have the highest-rated coffee, what types of coffee they produce, and what they taste like!
Let’s jump right in!
What can I expect from African Coffee?
African coffee brands are known for being vibrantly floral, fruity, and complex. The coffee may also have wine-like flavors, a full-body, and rich aromas.
But of course, the taste will depend on the soil, the elevation, the climate, and how the coffee is processed. So, let’s look at some specific countries.
Coffee is grown all around the world, but Ethiopia is widely considered to be coffee’s birthplace.
There are over a thousand different varietals of coffee grown in Ethiopia and most is grown at altitudes of about 1,200-2,200 meters. After harvesting, the beans are processed using both washed and sun-dried methods.
There are three different trademarked coffee regions in Ethiopia, Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo. And the coffee you buy will be named after the region it was grown in:
- Harar: a wild arabica type that’s grown on small farms. It’s fruity and intense and is more often used in espresso blends.
- Yirgacheffe: often described as having a medium body with complex floral flavors and aromas.
- Sidamo: Most coffee beans from this region are wash processed. They have a full body with fruity and herbal flavors and sharp acidity.
Kenyan coffee is dominated by five different varieties; SL28, SL34, K7, Ruiru 11, and Batian. These can all be traced back to bourbon coffee beans, which are themselves a type of Arabica.
Kenya produces some of the best African coffee available. And Kenyan grade AA coffee is considered some of the finest in the world!
Their coffee is grown all over the country but the highest grades are grown in the rich volcanic soils around Mount Kenya. They are grown at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, which forces them to mature slower and develop more complex flavors.
Kenyan AA coffee is famous for having a full-body, crisp acidity, and rich aroma. It also has fruity, floral flavors with a wine-like aftertaste and very little bitterness.
Most of Tanzania’s coffee is grown on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru and is known for having a medium to full body, bright acidity, and fruity flavors.
And as with most African coffees, Tanzania has winy overtones.
The country is the third-largest coffee producer in Africa and grows both Arabica and Robusta beans. The country’s coffee is also graded, like Kenya’s, with AA being the highest.
Coffee varietals most commonly grown in Tanzania are Typica (a.k.a. Nyra), Bourbon, Blue Mountain, and Kent.
Burundi’s volcanic soils and heavy rainfall create an ideal location for growing coffee. Most of the country’s coffee is grown in 5 different regions between 1,250 and 2,000 meters.
Coffee from Burundi is mostly of the Bourbon variety and has a full body, winey acidity and the fruity aromas and flavors generally associated with African coffees.
Burundi beans from higher altitudes tend to have more acidic notes and beans from lower altitudes usually have nutty and chocolaty flavors.
While Burundi is a small coffee-producer, much of their coffee is considered specialty coffee. They’ve even been featured as part of the Starbucks Reserve Program to raise awareness.
The types of coffee beans grown in Rwanda include Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon. Rwanda’s coffee beans are grown between 1,200 to 2,000 meters above sea level in rich volcanic soils, so they’re nutrient dense and flavorful.
From a cup of this coffee, you can expect a citrusy aroma and a floral taste profile with notes of fruits and berries.
In the last few years more and more the coffee produced by this country has been marked as specialty coffee. So, be on the lookout for Rwandan coffee if you’re a specialty coffee connoisseur.
African coffees have a wide range of flavor profiles. So, you’ll need to experiment if you want to know which you like the best!
There are more coffee-producing African countries than the ones we’ve mentioned, such as Senegal, Malawi, Cameroon, and Angola. But the ones we’ve discussed here are famous for producing some of the highest quality coffee you can find!