For many of us, coffee is the lift that eases the load of our working day. Yet the sharpened mental focus it offers is rarely directed towards its origins. Coffee’s birthplace is Ethiopia and its beans remain high on caffeine aficionados’ hit lists. They produce smooth brews that carry an extraordinary range of tastes — variously, chocolate, wine, floral, spice and fruit. They have an extraordinary history too.
Jeff Koehler travelled extensively in Ethiopia and other coffee producing countries to research Where the Wild Coffee Grows. The arabica species of coffee tree, which yields the finest coffee, first appeared in Ethiopia’s south-western mountain rainforests. Brilliant red coffee cherries are still gathered by hand there from spindly trees scattered through the dank forests.