Coffee originates from Ethiopia. The word ‘coffee’ comes from the word ‘Kaffa’; the green jungle region in the southwest of the country. Walking through beautiful jungle with Colobus Monkeys swinging overhead, we will experience the beauty of its diverse flora, fauna, wildlife and local people; visiting the coffee plantations and villagers who work there, learning everything about the processes that allow the beans to be exported to the international market.
With a local guide we will take a short tour of the city, stopping off at the cathedral, Mercato and museum to get a feel for the place. We will also visit a culture house to see local dancing and sample tej honey wine before our first group dinner.
We will hop on a short national flight down to the city of Jimma, from where we will drive the two hours to Bonga in the Kaffa Biosphere Reserve, taking in the truly spectacular views along the way. We will stretch our legs by taking a walk to see a beautiful waterfall in the jungle where we will also pass a bee farm. Our guesthouses are located just outside of the town, amidst a beautifully maintained exotic gardens surrounded by acacia trees and jungle.
When coffee plants are not maintained they grow into huge trees which still bear the caffeinated fruit. We will walk through idyllic farmsteads to view one of these ancient wild coffee forests, where lichen hangs from the shaded trunks; one of the few remaining in the world today. We will then walk through a wild coffee farm located in the heart of the jungle and meet the people who maintain it.
We will visit the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange office in Bonga to experience ‘cupping’ – the process whereby coffee is tasted to categorize its qualities. We will stop by a tea plantation on the way to the stunning Beha village to experience the coffee ceremony and local cuisine.
We will continue our tour of the region by visiting a much larger coffee plantation; a convenient excuse to keep exploring some of the most stunning scenery in the entire country. We will view Colobus Monkeys and all manner of tropical birds and wildlife, finishing up by taking a dip in a natural hotspring. For those who like horse riding we can rent horses for these journeys.
In Jimma, a major nerve centre for coffee in the Oromia region, we will visit the palace and museum of Abba Jifar, King of the Gibe Kingdom of Jimma. The largest and most powerful of the five kingdoms of Gibe, it was established around 1830, when silver Maria Theressa Dollars and bars of salt were the main circulation of currency. Jimma is a very lively town so we can explore the markets and later on some of the nightspots from our hotel.
In the morning we will fly back to the capital. After freshening up in our rooms we will take a trip out to a local coffee company, in whose impressive facilities we will see the beans being washed and processed for export. The complex also has a beautiful in-house coffee shop where we will experiment with creating different kinds of drinks before dinner in the best Italian in town.