Discovering Ethiopia, Part 3: Coffee Cupping

This is the third post in a series about Zoka's recent coffee sourcing trip to Ethiopia. These are written by Peter McBride as he joined Jeff on his first coffee adventure - here are parts one, and two. We hope you enjoy!

Our coffee trips are focused on both cultivating relationships and finding great coffee. Traveling with great company, the relationships came easily. And, with Ethiopia being the “birthplace of coffee,” great coffee wasn’t too difficult to come by, either. However, we did discover that the cuppings varied widely.

For starters, cupping a dozen coffees at a time with a dozen eager coffee buyers is not an easy feat. During a few cuppings, the coffee was being roasted hours (if not minutes) beforehand and grind settings seemed to be slightly inconsistent. Most of the time, however, the coffee was excellent.

Ethiopia Coffee Sourcing Trip

All of the cuppings were blind. Three cups of each coffee, same as at home, and almost everything was registering at 84+. With a few Q-certified graders in the group, and probably 60 years of cupping experience between us, each coffee received an abundance of feedback that was shared between the group and with the producers.


Coffee Cupping - Zoka in Ethiopia

Throughout our trip, there was no shortage of posters, billboards, and subtle reminders that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee (what’s this on the back of your business card, Mr. Coffee Exporter?), and the cuppings were evidence that it’s truly some of the best in the world.

Coffee Cupping - Ethiopia Sourcing Trip


According to my cupping journal, I had tasted 134 coffees. As we shared our notes and discussed purchasing quantities, Crop to Cup came up with a handful of the best coffees that they would bring to the US. The most popular of these coffees was divided up between roasters on the trip, one of the side benefits of joining in on the sourcing trip... exclusivity!

Zoka contracted three coffees from Ethiopia:

  • Yirgacheffe blender from Kochere
  • Natural-processed single-origin from Germa Eshetu
  • Washed single origin from Kossa Geshe Co-op in Agaro.

While we bring in Ethiopian coffees every year, we’re especially excited about these three because of our relationships with so many great Ethiopian coffee growers.