Here is what you need to know:
As the birthplace of coffee, Africa has a rich history and growing coffee culture that's capturing the world's attention. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, with African coffee beans accounting for a significant percentage of global production, making up 12% of the worldwide production of coffee beans. The continent has a long history of coffee production, dating back to the 15th century. Over time, the African coffee culture has become integral to the continent's social and economic fabric. In 2021 alone, coffee exports from Africa were valued at nearly 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, highlighting the economic importance of this beloved beverage.
Kenya, Africa's fifth-largest coffee producer, has been making strides in coffee production. The nation impressively increased its coffee production to 51,583 in 2022, up from 34,000 in 2021. This surge in production speaks volumes about Kenyan coffee growers' dedication, hard work, and commitment to producing high-quality beans.
In this article, we'll explore the growth of African coffee culture, its history, the rise of specialty coffee, and the notable cafes and roasters making waves across the continent. Join us as we discover the flavours, aromas, and stories that make African coffee unique and captivating.
Legend has it that coffee was discovered in Ethiopia by a goat herder named Kaldi around the 9th century. He noticed his goats becoming unusually energetic after consuming the red berries of a specific plant. Intrigued, Kaldi tried the berries himself and experienced a similar effect. From there, the news of this energising fruit spread, and coffee cultivation began.
Coffee spread across Africa, with countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda becoming key players in the global coffee industry. These regions' diverse climates and rich soils allowed for cultivating unique and flavorful beans, further solidifying Africa's place in the coffee world.
As African cities grow and urbanise, so does the demand for coffee. More people are moving to cities for better opportunities, bringing a taste for coffee. This has led to a boom in cafes and coffee shops, particularly in major cities like Nairobi, Lagos, and Addis Ababa.
The presence of international coffee chains, such as Starbucks, has also played a role in shaping African coffee culture. These chains have introduced new coffee-drinking habits and preferences to the continent, inspiring local entrepreneurs to open coffee shops and roasteries. The competition has driven innovation and a push for higher-quality coffee, further fueling the growth of the coffee scene in Africa.
African coffee beans are renowned for their unique flavours and characteristics. From the fruity and floral notes of Ethiopian beans to the bright acidity of Kenyan coffee, these beans offer diverse tastes for discerning coffee drinkers. The increasing appreciation for specialty coffee has encouraged local roasters to showcase their homegrown beans, putting African coffee on the global map.
Direct trade relationships between coffee farmers and roasters have played a significant part in elevating the quality of African coffee. By cutting out the middleman, roasters can source beans directly from farmers, ensuring a fair price and fostering better agricultural practices. This has led to more sustainable and traceable coffee production in Africa, benefitting farmers and the environment.
One notable player in this space is Caantin, a vendor management platform that connects suppliers and restaurants, including those in the coffee industry. By facilitating direct connections between coffee farmers, roasters, and cafes, Caantin helps to promote transparency and fair trade practices throughout the supply chain. Through the efforts of platforms like Caantin and the rise of direct trade, the African coffee industry is experiencing a new wave of growth, with a focus on quality, sustainability, and social responsibility.
Located in Cape Town, Truth Coffee Roasting is an award-winning roastery and café known for its steampunk-inspired interior and exceptional coffee. They source their beans from the best growers in Africa and roast them to perfection, ensuring a memorable coffee experience.
Named after the legendary goat herder, Kaldi's Coffee is a popular chain in Ethiopia, offering high-quality coffee and a cosy atmosphere. With a strong focus on Ethiopian beans, Kaldi's Coffee celebrates the country's rich coffee heritage while promoting local beans and culture.
Artcaffe is a stylish café and bakery chain that has become a staple in Nairobi's coffee scene. With its contemporary design and diverse menu, Artcaffe attracts locals and tourists alike. Their commitment to using locally sourced Kenyan coffee beans has earned them a loyal following among coffee enthusiasts.
Endiro Coffee, Uganda's first specialty coffee shop, has been a driving force in promoting Ugandan coffee since its inception. With a focus on direct trade and farmer empowerment, Endiro Coffee is dedicated to showcasing the best Ugandan coffee while positively impacting local communities.
Neo Cafe, based in Lagos, is a rapidly growing chain of coffee shops that aims to bring Nigerian coffee culture to the forefront. Neo Cafe has quickly become a popular spot for coffee lovers across Nigeria by using locally sourced beans and providing a welcoming atmosphere.
The growth of African coffee culture shows no signs of slowing down. As more people embrace specialty coffee and the demand for quality beans increases, we expect to see even more innovation and expansion within the African coffee industry. From local roasters to international chains, the future of African coffee culture looks brighter than ever.
The African coffee scene has come a long way since its humble beginnings in Ethiopia. With a rich history, diverse beans, and a thriving café culture, the continent is making its mark on the global coffee stage. So next time you enjoy a cup of African coffee, take a moment to appreciate the journey and the people who have poured their passion into every bean.
How did coffee originate in Africa?
Coffee is believed to have originated in Ethiopia around the 9th century when a goat herder named Kaldi discovered its energising effects after his goats consumed the red berries of the coffee plant.
What makes African coffee beans unique?
African coffee beans are known for their diverse flavours and characteristics, ranging from fruity and floral notes in Ethiopian beans to the bright acidity of Kenyan coffee. The varied climates and rich soil contribute to these unique flavours.
How has urbanisation affected the growth of coffee culture in Africa?
Urbanisation has led to a higher demand for coffee in African cities as more people move into urban areas. This has resulted in a surge of cafes and coffee shops, particularly in major cities like Nairobi, Lagos, and Addis Ababa.
What role does direct trade play in African coffee culture?
Direct trade relationships between coffee farmers and roasters help elevate the quality of African coffee by ensuring fair prices, fostering better agricultural practices, and promoting more sustainable and traceable coffee production.