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Ethiopia Bench Maji - Mr Higgins Recommends

This month I am bringing you a most unusual variety of coffee, Ethiopia Bench Maji. It originates in Ethiopia, which incidentally most coffee people regard as the original home of this fascinating and varied product.  

Legend has it that a holy man returning from his pilgrimage to a holy site, and having become an avid coffee drinker during his time in the country smuggled unroasted coffee beans out of Ethiopia to plant and grow in his own land. In those days it was forbidden to take unroasted coffee beans out of the country because they were in effect the “seeds” which would eventually produce young coffee trees. Of course, once the embargo was broken, coffee growing eventually spread around the world, reaching countries such as Brazil, Colombia, East Africa, and Indonesia, and even in more recent times Vietnam.

Ethiopia Bench Maji though carefully harvested, essentially grows wild. There are whole forests of wild coffee trees. Left to what is in effect their own growth cycles the trees produce coffee which has very distinctive characteristics which are enhanced by the natural process they undergo before marketing.

We medium roast this coffee to bring out the fruity almost “high” or what at first seems over-ripe flavours of kiwi, lime, and floral notes. I suggest you experiment with it, as a black coffee before adding additives such as milk or cream.

I enjoy it prepared by the filter method, for me that method most successfully brings out its interesting flavours, but it can be prepared by most methods. My suggestion is if you are preparing using a Cafetière (plunger pot) be just a little more generous with the amount of coffee you use.

With my very best wishes

Tony Higgins  

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