Bean quality attributes of Arabica coffees grown in Ethiopia and the potential for discovering new specialty coffees
Coffee beans with unique flavour profiles that are produced in special geographical microclimates are known as specialty coffees. Specialty coffees have high niche markets and fetch premium prices. Bean quality attributes of coffees produced in Ethiopia are often determined based on results of green coffee bean assessment done on arrivals in the central market by Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) Company. This research was, therefore, conducted with the objective of studying bean quality attributes of coffees originating from distinct major and minor coffee growing regions in Ethiopia and to explore the potential for finding new specialty coffees using the methods employed by the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) company and those employed by Efico (Belgian coffee company). Seventy coffee bean samples were collected from 24 locations representing four traditional coffee producing regions in Ethiopia (south-western, southern, western, and eastern regions) and one newly emerging (north-western) region. Red coffee cherries were collected by handpicking. The green coffee beans were sun-dried, hulled, and subjected to sensory evaluation using the aforementioned methods. The results revealed that location did not have significant effects on all coffee quality attributes (cup cleanness, acidity, body, flavour, total point, preliminary grade, aroma, aftertaste, balance, perfumed, and overall attributes) except hundred bean weight and bean moisture content. The preliminary quality attributes for the unwashed coffee samples indicated that more than 65% of the samples attained the grade point 2. Most of the specialty coffee quality attributes attained high score points for all regions. Thus, based on the cup quality test done by Efico, about 75.7% of the samples fitted specialty grade 1, 18.6% fitted specialty grade 2 (premium grade), and 5.7% fitted specialty grade 3 (commercial grade). Furthermore, based on this test, four additional specialty coffees, namely, Kabo, Kossa, Gore, and Anfilo were identified. However, based on the cup quality test done by Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) company, only 7% of the samples fitted specialty grade 1, 40.1% specialty grade 2, and the remaining 48.6% fitted specialty grade 3 (commercial grade). In conclusion, the study revealed that almost all coffee beans originating from the distinct coffee growing geographical regions in the country have comparably superior bean quality attributes, with about 3/4th of the samples falling in the category of the specialty grade, and there is high potential to discover new specialty coffees in the regions using the Efico method rather than the ECX method.
Keywords: Coffee origins; Coffee industry; Commercial grade; Cup quality test; Efico; Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX); Specialty grade
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