It is widely believed that Africa is the birthplace of coffee as a species. Contrary to popular opinion though, recent research indicates that the original progenitor coffee species was most likely a Robusta-type coffee, not Arabica. It is believed that Arabica was a mutation that traveled North and South from an origin point somewhere along the middle coastal area of East Africa, probably in or near Tanzania, spreading into Madagascar, Ethiopia and an island called Reunion, where the subspecies Bourbon Arabica was first observed.
The "dancing goat" of Ethiopia story of the origin of coffee is a silly story cut and pasted all across the Internet and in books, but is also simply not true. When we talk about the discovery of coffee, we generally are referring to the European discovery of coffee, because coffee was in thorough use for a full millenia or more before then, by residents all along the African East Coast and Middle Eastern countries, and even was a staple energy food (in jerky form) for Roman soldiers in the First Millenium. Its use may even date to before the time of Christ by shamans for medicinal use.
Over 120 distinct species of coffee have been discovered, but only 4 species have survived the test of time for cultivation commercially.
The cultivation of coffee in Africa has a centuries-long history of care and husbandry, and many of the most unique and delicious subspecies or regional origins prosper there. Unfortunately, most producers are small farms who have no direct line to the outside, so finding traceable origins is a challenge, and usually access to the small farms is only available through coops or regional associations.
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Costa Rica's Dota Tarrazu Region
"Tarrazu", like Champagne, is a restricted term that can only apply to the highly-prized coffees grown in one small mountainous region. With your help and ours, our Tarrazu coffee farmer is expanding his farm to the great benefit of the local people, the environment, and the coffee species. Learn more and browse our Costa Rica Dota Tarrazu coffees here.