One of the legends goes that in the ninth century a goat herder was out herding his goats, as you do, when he noticed a change in behaviour from the herd. They became more active and frisky after nibbling on the fruit of the Coffea arabica plant. The earliest evidence of coffee consumption is in the 15th century in the Sufi (mystical dimension of Islam) shrines of Yemen. From there it spread in the east to India & SE Asia and into Italy from where it conquered Europe.

The coffee industry in Ethiopia today is robust and has experienced remarkable growth. This can be directly atributed to the establishment of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange in 2008 which centralised the trading of coffee, sesame and navy beans. The impact of centralisation was immediate with trading volume doubling to 504,000 tons and incentivised farmers to grow better quality coffee.

There has been a negative impact, with Ethiopian coffee gradually leaving the boutique, farm of origin industry and moving across to the bin label of mass coffee producers with not even a country of origin label attached. This is due to the difficulty boutique coffee traders face in identifying the farm of origin or even buying from the farms directly. The Ethiopian government wants all coffee to be traded through the exchange, it would not survive if the major trading crop, coffee, was not included.

There can be no question that a country which has faced many trials and tribulations in the past must implement polices that help advance the nation. Let’s see if they can leave some room for smaller boutique coffee houses upon which it built its reputation for some of the finest coffee around.

I’m hoping this will not affect my morning coffee fix which just so happens to be an Ethiopian Sidamo latte @BeanThereCoffee.

For more check out Bloomberg Business Week