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Harrar Ethiopian Coffee
Harrar is a mostly mountainous region in east central Ethiopia, just east of the capital Addis Ababa. The coffee bean plant is indigenous to the region and the beans grown in Harrar are the oldest in production anywhere in the world. Beans from Harrar are mostly grown on small farms of 5 acres at 5000 to 7200 ft of elevation. Unlike other varieties like Yirgacheffe, Harrar beans use a dry process after harvesting. The picked beans are left to dry in the sun and the shells will dry and fall off revealing the coffee fruit inside. Interestingly, the dried shells are used to make hasher-qawah, the most Ethiopian of teas. This dry method of processing is said to impart particularly complex characteristics to Harrar coffees. The Harrar coffee is often described as having a bold, fruity body with notable floral aromas of jasmine and spice tones of cinnamon and cardamom and even smoke. Harrar coffee s often compared to a red wine in its complexity. The French often talk about terroir when describing the importance of land and place in a wine. The same applies to Harrar coffee.
Harrar is generally roasted light to medium roast. It is certainly bold enough for a dark roast as well and is often used in making Espresso. I prefer a light-medium roast where all the aromas and tones are allowed to express themselves. A coarse grind in a French press works really well.