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What’s African coffee like?
What’s African coffee like?

It’s pretty wonderful. 

Like the human race itself, coffee has its origins in Africa, with the coffea plant being native to Ethiopia and Sudan. Sometime in the 15th century in southern Arabia (which is now Yemen), coffee was first made into a drink, potentially originating in Sufi shrines. So the beans were exported from east Africa early on, then became popular through Persia, Turkey, North Africa and so on around the world. 

Globally, the coffee trade is now roaring, and coffee is one of the main agricultural exports for many countries. It’s grown in the Coffee Belt – that zone around the equator where climate and geography provides the perfect conditions for growth. 

Robusta beans are grown mostly in central Africa – they’re the strongly-flavoured, earthy, high-caffeine beans that can be quite bitter. It’s got a reputation as a lower quality bean, but decent robustas can certainly be found. 

Arabica beans are the coffee lovers’ choice, though, and come from Eastern Africa and Latin America (at Neighbourhood we are 100% Arabica). These contain more sugars and lipids providing sweeter, more delicate tastes with a more varied flavour profile – we’re talking notes of fruit, chocolate, flowers and berries. They’re more expensive to grow as they’re pickier about what climate they’ll accept. 

We source our African coffee from various countries in the Eastern side of Africa, and they each produce unique types of beans.

Kenya

Coffee from Kenya is intense, medium-bodied and acidic, with rich notes of chocolate, fruit and berries. The country is a coffee powerhouse, producing over 50 million kg per year (5% of the country’s exports).

We’ve got a couple of Kenyans on the shelves – I Like Big Cups and I Cannot Lie is the first, a full-bodied, acidic variety with a strong blackcurrant profile, alongside vanilla and rhubarb.

I Just Don’t Know What To Brew With Myself; a distinctly fruity number from the slopes of Mount Kenya, with aromas of passion fruit, blackcurrant and orange marmalade. It’s a complex and bold brew that goes well through any filter too. 

Ethiopia

The birthplace of coffee itself, Ethiopia is now the world’s 5th largest producer, and the biggest in Africa. It exports around 200,000 tons of Arabica beans per year. It’s a source of national pride for sure; one of the top football teams in their premier league is Ethiopian Coffee Sport Club, based in Addis Ababa! 

Ethiopian coffee is complex and full-bodied, but flavour-wise there’s such a variety it’s hard to pin down specifics. Our two varieties are both distinctly fruity, though.

I Still Haven’t Ground What I’m Looking For has notes of bergamot, jasmine and lemon, while Love, Love Me Brew provides mango, peach and vanilla tastes. Grown at high altitudes, the more you drink of these tasty brews, the more flavours you’ll discover. Brewing via filter will help you best along the journey.

Rwanda

This small landlocked country sits within the African Great Lakes region, with volcanic soils and high altitudes – perfect for growing delicious coffee. Expect a silky-smooth body in Rwandan coffee, along with floral, citrus notes and a caramel aftertaste.

Our Rwandan flagship is The Only Way is Cup, Baby – a medium bodied brew from the Tumba mill in the north of the country. 

It’s a versatile bean that’ll shine however you brew it – with filter, tart mandarin and cherry sweetness will come through; espresso will bring out some bright citrus flavours, and milk will highlight the caramel spice. 

“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you

There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do

I bless the beans down in Africa…”

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