Having just returned from one of the largest coffee producing and one of the largest coffee consuming countries in the world, it seemed fitting to make a cup (plus I need it to deal with the subsequent jetlag!).

According to Wikipedia:

The coffee production in Ethiopia is critical to the Ethiopian economy with about 25% of the population depending directly or indirectly on coffee for its livelihood. In 2006 coffee exports accounted some $350 million, equivalent to 34% of that year’s total exports…
Ethiopia is the world’s 7th largest producer of coffee, and Africa’s top producer, with 260,000 metric tonnes in 2006

And I’ve just come back from San Francisco, where you can’t walk more than 10 metres without a coffee shop of some sort. The US consumes more than 400 million cups per day – around 4.2kg per capita per year or 1,290,720 metric tonnes per year in total.

Ethiopians (or more precisely the Oromo) argue strenuously that they were the first to discover coffee, so I thought I’d buy some beans while I was there. One of our local WaterAid staff took me to a supermarket and proudly showed me the shelves of ground coffee – wanting to be a bit more authentic, I asked him if I could get some beans. He was a bit confused, and after a while responded with “ah, yes, raw coffee” and hustled me back into the car. After driving around for a while, he abruptly stopped outside a tiny shack and shouted over at the man behind a set of rusty scales. A brief haggling exchange resulted in a 500g bag of beans for about £3. Great! Except for the teeny tiny fact that they were green, unroasted beans. Too embarrassed and guilty to reject them, I sheepishly paid and smiled gratefully wondering what the hell to do with them.

Returning home, a quick Google search turned up lots of home-roasting pages. Turns out there’s quite an industry in it. Always game for a from-first-principles product, I gave it a crack. Dispensing with the technology (roasters, temperature gauges, roasting profiles, etc) that is apparently vital to a good roast, I whipped out my faithful wok. I’m pretty sure Ethiopians don’t need all that gubbins. Here’s how it went:

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