Home Business & Commerce Wake Up and Live in Burien (Part 4)

Wake Up and Live in Burien (Part 4)


By Lance Leasure, owner of Town & Country Coffee

So far, we’ve covered a few of the basics of the coffee plant. We’ve discussed some of its varieties, clarified that the “beans” are actually seeds, and we introduced the region circling the globe known as the “coffee belt.”

Within this zone, coffee requires ample sunshine, lots of water in well-draining and fertile volcanic soil, and little to no frost. There are a number of places around the world where these conditions exist, several of which are in Equatorial Africa (or, as some call it, the “Cradle of Coffee”).

Odds are you’ve likely heard of Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee. Both countries produce absolutely amazing coffees…but they are not alone. There are over twenty coffee-producing countries in Africa! With the exception of Ethiopia, there are relatively few coffee drinkers in most of these countries, though the trend can be seen to be shifting in some places.

Just as it would be impossible to paint an accurate picture of African countries with one brush, it would be a disservice to attempt a single description of all African coffees. I can report, however, that those I’ve had the pleasure of tasting do share a few similar characteristics. Generally speaking, I would classify them as being pleasantly acidic, fruity, and floral. Depending on the region and the growing and processing methods, the range of flavors within these can be massive. Everyone’s tastes are admittedly different, but a few highlights from my personal tasting notes include strawberry, black currant, pineapple, and coconut, as well as herbal, hibiscus, and jasmine.

African coffees regularly rate as some of the finest in the world. A few highly-rated samples to keep an eye out for include: Tanzania Peaberry, Ethiopian Harrar and Yirgacheffe*, Kenya AA, and Burundi Kayanza. But don’t let this list stop you from trying another of the countless high-quality and delicious coffees from Africa.

As mentioned above, coffee culture and consumption are relatively low amongst many coffee-producing countries on the African continent. In the places where it does thrive, however, it is a very different experience than you’ve likely witnessed in the US, where our ritual remains a largely solitary activity. In Ethiopia and other emerging coffee centers, coffee drinking is more ceremonial. Raw coffee beans are often roasted on an open fire before participants, ground by hand, and enjoyed in small communal settings sans milk, syrups, and pumpkin spice.

I recently read a quote from the poet Eddie Mudzimu, who says, “Africa never sleeps. Africa is life, a gift–of fauna, flora, and people.” Having not yet experienced the gifts of Africa in person, I can only attest to the gift of African coffees. I can also say that if you begin your day with a cup of the espresso blend at the Three Tree Point Store in Burien, the hint of berry you taste comes from a medium-roast Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Mmm, what a great way to wake up and live!

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