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Synopsis: It's the twenty-first century and Ethiopia, in the global consciousness, is shedding its history of drought, famine, and war. It's doing so by embracing the heritage and potential of its defining crop, coffee, a plant first accounted for in legend more than three thousand years ago and that now ranks among the world's ten most-valued commodities. Coffee Story: Ethiopia is the recounting of that process: a visual and narrative tale of opportunity, resources, education, and tradition.
Author Majka Burhardt's prose weaves its way into the fabric of the Ethiopian coffee story with precision, humility, and curiosity. The result is both informative and illuminating. Coffee Story: Ethiopia is a unique co-venture by US-based Ninety Plus Press and Shama Books, an Ethiopian publishing company. It is thus the only coffee story that is both about and from Ethiopia. Ethiopia's coffee story unfolds through photos, vignettes, and extended captions that allow easy entry onto any page. Coffee Story: Ethiopia also transcends the bean itself to explore Ethiopia's larger landscape and peoples.
Coffee Story: Ethiopia features elegant photography by Travis Horn and Helmut Horn, original artwork by illustrator Molly Holmberg, and elucidating guest essays from leaders in the coffee industry. This book proves an invaluable addition to the library of the coffee professional, the coffee consumer, and anyone interested in this ancient plant and in exploring Ethiopia's territories and lore.
From the Author:
It's a simple question: what if a food crop--coffee--could change a nation's future? Here are three more questions: What if that crop was something the world had grown to value starting in the sixth century as a plant, and in the fifteenth century as a brewed infusion? What if an assemblage of stories helped shine a collective light on Ethiopia's role as the birthplace of coffee, and its centuries of coffee ritual and culture? And what if the sharing of these stories increased an understanding of Ethiopia that in turn helped this long-struggling nation toward economic bounty?
Our task is Herculean; it will take an optimist.
Welcome to Coffee Story: Ethiopia. I'm that optimist.
I first visited Ethiopia in 2006, as a journalist on a coffee expedition. Like most Americans, my sum-total knowledge of the country consisted of perceptions of famine, drought, war, poverty, and political strife. As for coffee, all I could tell you was that I liked to drink it. During three return trips over the next four years, I grew to know Ethiopia for its lush landscapes, broad lakes, thick forests, towering rock faces, and welcoming people. I came to understand a nation far more complex in its global role and potential than Western media convey. My initial trip started me on the road to this book. Along the way, I wrote another book about Ethiopia--one that captured its natural beauty through a lens of adventure travel and rock climbing. My and Gabe Rogel's effort, Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa, was the vehicle for my 2008-2009 fifty-city speaking tour across North America. People came to hear tales of Ethiopian exploration, and then stayed for stories about coffee.
During these events, I recognized a need for more information about coffee's role in Ethiopia--not just statistics, but complex stories of real people in a nation with real problems...and real potential.
Coffee is the world's most shared connection, chosen on a daily basis, with Ethiopia--whether we know it or not. The coffee species indigenous to Ethiopia, Arabica (so named for the Arabs who were the first to cultivate it commercially), comprises 65 percent of the planet's current consumption. Ironically, though all Arabica originally came from Ethiopia, the country's annual coffee production, at 4 million sixty-kilogram bags (2009), represents a mere 8 percent of the output of the world's leading producer, Brazil, who in contrast produces 47 million bags (70 percent of which is Arabica coffee).
Ethiopia will likely never compete with Brazil in volume, and most cognoscenti would suggest she not even try. But better than volume, Ethiopia holds realms of untapped quality within her borders. This is because, like grapes and wine, coffee has a flavor profile that can differ dramatically between bean varieties. And Ethiopia has more than ten thousand different types of coffee sprouting from her soil. (Colombia, by contrast, has only a handful of primary varieties.)
Specialty coffee, a movement (and term) that started in the 1960s, turned the focus to coffee's quality--a development that spawned a new retailing culture led by Starbucks and similar companies. Today's "boutique specialty coffee," an even more specialized coffee-industry sector, places higher value yet on small-lot coffees produced via a combination of microclimate, variety, and customized processing. These coffees feed a growing, international by-the-cup coffee-retailing trend in which the brews are purveyed like wines on a list. Ethiopia is the world's eighth-poorest country, but it has the greatest store of genetic diversity of coffee. Its coffee, if successfully linked with the growing specialty and boutique-specialty coffee trends, can create real results for the country's economy. Ethiopia currently exports 600 million pounds of coffee per year; a price increase of just $0.10/pound would equal $60 million in additional income for the nation.
Whether those who came to my talks were first learning of Ethiopia's role as the birthplace of coffee or knew of it beforehand, they always craved more information about the nation. Coffee created that desire. From the Turkish coffeehouse, to Italian espresso, to Americanized big coffee, to the rising appreciation of single-origin specialty coffees, coffee is the most-consumed legal stimulant on Earth. With a growing consumer awareness of food anthropology, coffee drinkers are more curious than ever about the bean's origins. Coffee Story: Ethiopia emerged from that curiosity.
To most of the world, Ethiopia is barren, flat, and dry. The reality, however, is that two-thirds of Ethiopia is rain-forested highland situated between six hundred and twenty-five hundred meters in altitude, with dark, rich volcanic soil: the perfect place for coffee. It's also the cradle of humanity: the Horn of Africa is more than forty million years old, and fossilized humanoids dating back more than four million years have been found here. No one knows exactly when coffee consumption began. But the historians do concur that coffee was integral to Ethiopian life long before the sixth century, when the bean had its first opportunity to be traded over the eighty-kilometer stretch of Red Sea to Yemen.
In Ethiopia, to drink coffee is to share a story with a friend, family member, or a stranger. Peace is brokered over coffee, religion is celebrated, and in some tribes coffee can even determine a marriage--for example, in the Amaro mountains, when a suitor arrives just as a prospective bride's family is drinking a cup from the first of a daily three-round coffee ceremony, the bride must unquestioningly accept his marriage proposal.
But these are only a few snapshots of a nation whose people speak ninety languages and more than two hundred dialects--there is in fact an untold number of stories inside this country of 1.1 million square kilometers. It would take many lifetimes to find and share them all.
In the coffee world, we speak of wild coffee thriving in a forest's "understory"-- the plants, trees, and shrubs that cover the forest at the ground level, while soaking up protection from the larger trees above. While writing this book, I came to think of the assembled host of tales as coffee's understory.
Coffee Story: Ethiopia is a collection of voices and narratives that reach off the page to stimulate deeper conversation. Rather than a definitive, didactic survey of coffee's cultural uses, Coffee Story: Ethiopia is an expressive collage with exploration as its central tenet. The book is assembled as a continuous journey through Ethiopia's most important coffee lands: we start in Kaffa, the genetic home of Coffee arabica; journey to Harar, where Ethiopian coffee trade crystallized; travel to the Northern Highlands, home to Tigray, Lake Tana, and the birthplace of the Blue Nile and where ancient coffee practices are still observed; revel in Ethiopia's thriving center--the capital, Addis Ababa--reconnecting with the everyday expression of coffee in this, Africa's third largest city; and finally, adventure in the emerging heartlands of Ethiopian coffee development in the Rift Valley, exploring Sidamo, Yirga Cheffe, and the Amaro Mountains. Other smaller tales from different regions, as well as essays from coffee-industry insiders, pepper the larger regions. Coffee Story: Ethiopia might leave you dizzy. If it does, I have done my job.
Welcome to a conversation about the culture of coffee in the land of coffee's heritage. Welcome to a new vision of Ethiopia...
Title: Coffee Story: Ethiopia
Publisher: Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books
Publication Date: 2011
Book Condition: Fair
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books, 2011. Book Condition: Good. 1st. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP87620734
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books, 2011. Book Condition: Very Good. 1st. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP96218260
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books 2011-08-07, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: good. 1st. 0984544607. Bookseller Inventory # 722190
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books 2011-08-07, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: good. 1st. 0984544607. Bookseller Inventory # 722438
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Book, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Bookseller Inventory # P020984544607
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Book, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Like New. Bookseller Inventory # P010984544607
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Book, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110984544607
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. 1st. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Bookseller Inventory # 0984544607
Book Description Ninety Plus Press / Shama Books, U.S.A., 2011. Cloth. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. Horn, Travis; Horn, Helmut Photographers (illustrator). First. No rubbing, bumping or shelfwear to either dj or boards. Interior tight and unmarked. Appears unread. 197 pp. Size: Oblong 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 005593