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Coffee tourism gaining ground in Ethiopia
March 18, 2018, 12:19 pm
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No other country in the world probably has a culture so intricately interwoven with coffee production and coffee making as Ethiopia. Coffee has been an integral part of the country’s culture for centuries as is the place from where Coffee arabica is believed to have originated.  
 
Though Ethiopia accounts for only around 3 percent of the global coffee market, coffee is critical to the country’s economy as it is responsible for bringing in around 60 percent of the foreign income, and an estimated 15 million Ethiopians relying on some aspect of coffee production for their livelihood.
 
Even though Ethiopia is well known for being the origin of coffee Arabica, and the majority of Ethiopia’s exports meet the criteria for specialty coffee, the country has lacked a ‘coffee-nation’ brand image. Last week, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson helped rectify this to some extent when he paid a high profile visit to the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, which started with USAID assistance 16 years ago. The aid has helped more than 120,000 smallholders coffee growers to increase production, sales, and earn nearly $28 million.
 
Now, one person is attempting to take coffee to the next level by making the unique Ethiopian coffee tradition a tourist attraction. Dagmawi Eyasu, the research and production development manager at Ya-Coffee Roasters Company, is the brain behind the idea of promoting coffee tourism. 
 
He holds the view that tourism in Ethiopia has been growing significantly and now is the time to promote coffee and the coffee making ceremony as yet another tourism potential of the country. "Coffee has even more value than an export commodity." He stressed. He aims to promote and develop coffee tourism in twenty cities and towns across the country that have biosphere sites with jungles around each of them.
 
"Ethiopia has more than five million farmers who produce coffee. Each and every step of the production is unique. We also have a coffee ceremony tradition, only one of its kinds. The roasting, the grinding and making procedures are so unique that they have power to impress us, let alone tourists," said Mr. Eyasu.
 
His project aims to provide tourists with the chance to witness all these processes of coffee production within a single trip. He added, "We can build a successful tourism brand using our unique coffee tradition. There are other countries that are well known for their own wine or beer culture. So, they have created a wine tourism. And we can do that through our unique organic coffee and unique ceremony of making it."
 
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