African Coffee: Guide To Best Brands, Varieties & Flavors

African Coffee

When I think of East African or South African coffee, I can’t help but think of my trip to South Africa. My friends and I got up early one morning and went on a safari. Our driver poured us some Yirgacheffe coffee. Between the coffee, a beautiful sunrise, and watching baby elephants follow their mothers closely, it was magical.

People love coffee from Colombia to Central America and as far away as Indonesia coffee plantations. However, die-hard coffee connoisseurs rave about African coffee. Further, the rich, unique flavors made them fans for life.

Skilled farmers have ensured African coffee beans are high-quality. Also, the rich soil and perfect climate make their jobs a little easier. Plus, Africa is home to more than 6,000 different varieties of coffee. Check out the leading top African coffee producers below.


Top Pick
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee
Best High Grown Coffee in Ethiopia
Intense flavor and complex floral aroma define this coffee. It is one of the finest Ethiopian coffees from the highest elevations.
Kenya AA Coffee
Unsurpassed Quality
As more coffee drinkers worldwide develop the refined tastes and sensibilities of connoisseurs, it’s only to be expected that more people will seek out and purchase Kenya AA coffees.
Also Great
Tanzania AA Coffee
Microlot Coffee
Tanzanian AA is grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is superb coffee because it is AA, which is the highest grade of beans from the crop. Enjoy this medium roast.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe whole bean coffee has long been a popular choice for coffee drinkers the world over. Although other parts of the world are beginning to catch up and offer a wider variety of coffee choices, Africa provides a rich source of coffee beans. Likewise, the beans used in making coffee originate in Ethiopia.

Many people wonder what makes Kenya AA Coffee coffee so unique. While some people prefer an overly sweet taste or acidity that tends to be on the solid side, others find that an intense bitter taste works well. Nevertheless, the exciting thing about this coffee is one of the most diverse places for coffee beans.

Tanzania AA coffee produces a high-quality variety. Most Tanzania coffee is cultivated on the flat slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan coast. Moreover, coffee trees in Tanzania are mainly shaded tolerant and grow on hillsides.
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I’m Sherry Harris, a seasoned coffee writer who has been brewing and tasting coffee from around the world for decades.

I work hard to serve my readers as a trusted go-to resource for almost everything related to coffee and the best-tested products you can buy. As a coffee enthusiast, published content is fact-checked periodically.

Also, it’s reviewed to ensure the information provided is accurate and up-to-date. This way, you can make better-informed buying decisions about the best coffee and coffee equipment without being a trained barista. In addition, I regularly consult baristas and coffee experts for insights and analysis. I only recommend products that I stand behind.

In addition, I’ve written multiple guides for coffee equipment, including Coffee Shop Lady’s guide to the espresso machine.

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If you live on the adventurous side, you’re going to love tasting something a bit more exotic. Let’s just say African coffee isn’t Maxwell House or Folgers. Most coffee on that side of the world is fruity, sweet, and floral.

However, if you can’t visit Africa right now for an early morning safari, sipping on the African hot and cold brews below might be a good runner-up. For the most part, coffee rituals are the same around the world. On the contrary, the coffee culture and flavor are where things start to divert.

Still, if you want to brew something a bit farther away from home, African coffee delivers. African coffees are bright and floral with lively flavors of citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Ethiopian coffee has notes of jasmine and rose. Also, other vibrant coffees come from Kenya and Tanzania. Want extra sweetness? Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Burundi are ideal.

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Top Three Best African Coffee Brands

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Whole Bean (Top-Pick)

In my opinion, this is the best African coffee. The most famous black coffee is the Yirgacheffe coffee brand, a medium roast, mild and balanced. Later, the coffee is washed before going through a sun-dried process. Also, this organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee is an absolute favorite of mine. It has notes of bright citruses, honey, and lemon. Besides, I love the intense, dark flavor.

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) considers Yirgacheffee organic. Additionally, it is Fair Trade certified. Further, it is of single origin from Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia, dried on raised beds. African coffee beans are roasted and in environmentally friendly Loring roasters. Too, this reduces the carbon footprint. Additionally, all freshly roasted coffee is:

  • Kosher certified
  • Sustainably sourced

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Kenya AA Coffee (Runner-Up)

This East African coffee is famous for its rich body, vibrant acidity, mild fragrant aroma, and overtones of berries and citrus. Next, Kenyan coffee has a sweet taste accompanied by wine-like or fruity overtones. They are well-known worldwide and sought after for their bold, intense, full-bodied flavors.

Kenya AA Coffee

Kenyan AA light and medium roast coffee beans contain little-to-no bitter flavors. Flavor notes consist of raspberry, redwood, cranberry, and alyssum-like flowers. In addition, the single-origin coffee beans come from Nyeri Hill Estate farm, where everything is shade-grown. The planting happens on plateaus that soar up to 6,800 feet above sea level. At this level, plants enjoy excellent weather conditions and are conducive to the harvesting of fruit that produces a bright, acidic flavor.

In addition, Kenya has volcanic, loamy soil with a distinct red appearance. The richness of the earth in these areas provides fertile ground for the cultivation of excellent coffee. Certifications for this brilliant brew are as follows:

  • Kosher Certified
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified

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Tanzania AA Coffee (Also Great)

This coffee has some of the best flavor notes ever to hit your taste buds. It consists of cinnamon, light milk chocolate, and stone fruits. For instance, a stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large “stone” inside like peaches, plums, and cherries. The stone is sometimes called the seed, but that is a mistake.

Coffee is thoroughly washed with water from the Tumkaki river, fermented in tanks, graded based on density, soaked in tanks, and dried on raised beds. Finally, the parchment is handpicked on the drying tables to remove defects.

Tanzania AA Coffee

  • Pure Tanzania AA Coffee from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro has a sharp, winy acidity typical of African and Arabia coffees with a medium to full-bodied.
  • Medium roasted whole beans allow the true flavor characteristic to come through for a remarkable taste.
  • Fresh roasted, then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness.

Noteworthy Competition Among African Coffee

Equal Exchange Organic Ground Coffee, African Roots

This Equal Exchange coffee is ground. The coffee is a medium roast blend. Also, it tastes bright with notes of exotic fruits. I’m talking blackberry, blueberry, and toasted malt. Likewise, it is 100% Arabica coffee cultivated and grown by the small-scale farmer Cooperatives in Ethiopia.

Equal Exchange sources beans from two countries—Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Also, the Congo has a burgeoning coffee industry. It is 100% fair-traded. Likewise, it is certified Kosher and is organic by the United States Academic Decathlon (USAD). At the same time, it is gourmet in quality.

Roastmaster Reserve Dark Roast (Tanzanian Honey Coffee)

Roastmaster Reserve Dark Roast coffee is a single-origin dark roast coffee. Furthermore, Tanzanian Honey coffee is rare and produces in small quantities. Also, its roast profile has bright, fruity acidity with intense tantalizing citrus flavors.

The Tanzania Honey Dark roast coffee blend is an exclusive coffee that grows in East Africa. Also, it is a premier coffee region for peaberry coffee. Further, the area is known to produce a more intense taste. The peaberry coffee is rich in taste as flavors are amplified due to the smaller beans. Moreover, the beans are carefully sourced from premier growing areas and roasted in limited batches.

Ethiopian Coffee Gift Box

The Ethiopian coffee gift box is a special present to give. It will make anyone feel extra awesome opening it up. It’s a perfect gift for somebody who makes you smile. I think it is a great way to show that you care. The recipient will surely love and appreciate this exquisite gift box, which comes with the coffee below:

  • Ethiopia Limu
  • Ethiopia Guji
  • Ethiopian Kochere Chelelektu
  • Ethiopia Harrar

History of Coffee in Africa

The world’s coffee regions are amazingly complex and diverse. Africa, the world’s second-largest continent, is known for coffee. African coffee is known globally as one of the most distinctive coffee farming regions. Also, Africa has ideal growing and harvesting conditions. There are many East African coffee producers like:

  • Malawi
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi

Many roasters find that the coffee found in these growing regions produces more intense flavors.

Likewise, many consider Ethiopia to be the birthplace of coffee. The famous legend tells a story of a goat herder, Kaldi, who discovered the magic beans. Later, Kaldi noticed that the goats became energetic after eating the beans. Before long, everyone wanted the coffee that could give them energy, too.

Additionally, the next birthplace of Arabic coffee is Kenya. This tea-loving country didn’t start growing coffee commercially until around 1900. After their independence, the country focused on producing AA quality coffee. Also, Rwanda and Burundi began growing coffee around the same time.

Ethiopia and Kenya produce the most amount of coffee in Africa. Ethiopian coffee beans are elegant, complex, and delicious. Also, Ethiopian coffee beans are popular because of its rich heritage and the sheer amount it produces.

The coffee produced in Mount Kenya’s foothills is of high quality. Also, the foothills have the most favorable coffee climate. The highest-grade coffee beans are AA. Kenya coffee AA is unsurpassed in taste. Also, Tanzanian coffee, as well as Rwanda coffee, transcends the common coffee beans.

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Why Buy Coffee from Africa?

Unique flavors and discrete taste characteristics are synonymous with African coffees. Also, their growing and harvesting conditions make the coffee cherries thrive.

Ethiopia and Kenya produce an immense amount of coffee. Also, the Ethiopian coffee beans are complex and delicious.

The coffee produced in Kenya is second to none. Also, the Kenya coffee beans are primarily grown at Mount Kenya’s foothills, with the most favorable coffee climate. Mainly, the coffee produced by small farmers emphasizes quality. The coffee farms thrive in the soil at 4,500 to 6,500 feet.

Why Buy Coffee from Africa

I also wanted to point out a few other favorite coffee drinks:

  • African Blue Coffee (Tchibo Privat Kaffee African Blue)
  • Wawa Ground Coffee
  • Peet’s Coffee Uzuri African Blend Dark Roast Ground Coffee

Amarula – An Amazing South African Cream Liqueur Cocktail

South African sweet liqueur comes from the fruit of the Marula palm. The primary taste of Amarula is creamy and apple-like, and people tend to drink it quite heartily. Also, it won Gold in the 2021 San Francisco World Spirit Awards. Different types of drinks in South Africa use Amarula. These drinks include Sambalie, a light coffee liqueur that is very popular with young people.

Other types of South African fruit liqueurs are guapa, mokony, and baobab. These three liqueurs have unique characteristics and flavors. Also, Guapa and Amarula come from tropical fruit.

The texture of the Amarula varies depending on two things.

  1. How are they distilled
  2. What is the distillation process

Amaranthine, or the deep-orange color of the marula fruit, is achieved when it undergoes steam distilling. The distilling process is done at low temperatures. Why? So, that the drink will have a smooth, creamy, fruity aroma.

What Else Is In Amarula?

Well, after you distill the Amarula, add mango and lichen extracts. These additions result in a very delicious milky mango shake or smooth, salty, warm lychee juice. Also, this milky beverage is famous worldwide for its rejuvenating effect on the body. Lychee extract adds the same cooling factor as the mango.

Amaranthine or the green Amarula has a bitter taste. Want to minimize this bitter taste? Include a few fruits such as:

  • Lychee juice
  • Guava
  • Persimmon
  • Milkweed

These easy recipes make a cool, refreshing drink. This juice plays an essential role in reducing the alcohol content in the beverage. However, most younger drinkers prefer a more potent Amarula liquor.

Ever tasted an Amarula-loaded cocktail? If not, it is time to experience the delightful blend of African spices and fruits. An Amarula-loaded cocktail will leave you and your guests wanting more. Also, a friend of mine adds one teaspoon of dill seed into the glass of Amarula to add a distinct kick. This mixture has everyone asking for more.

African Coffee Grading System

Kenya is the 16th largest producer of coffee in the world, with 330 farms. Further, African coffee has a grading system. Top in class is Kenya AA Coffee. However, there are eight Kenyan coffee bean grades: E, PB, AA, AB, C, TT, T, and MH/ML. Grades are given to coffee beans before roasting so as to determine their size.

In addition, Ethiopia and Kenya established the coffee legacy in Africa. Today, these coffee farmers are some of the largest coffee producers in Africa. However, regions like Tanzania and Rwanda produce specialty-grade coffee.

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. The coffee production in Ethiopia is massive.

In 2016, Ethiopia produced 384,000 metric tons of coffee beans. It is the 5th most coffee-producing country. Also, there are about 15 million people in coffee production. The most iconic Arabica coffee is Ethiopian Yirgachefe coffee.

The most important producing areas are:

  • Bungoma
  • Embu
  • Kiambu
  • Kirinyaga
  • Kisii
  • Machakos
  • Mt. Elgon
  • Murang’a
  • Nakuru
  • Taita Taveta
  • Tran-Nzoia

Flavor Profile

African coffee characteristics and flavors are citrusy by nature. Besides, African coffee has vivid floral, fruity, and berry tasting notes. Further, the body of the coffee is not too strong, and acidity is mild and pleasant.  Finally, in the aftertaste, you note jasmine flower, bergamot, and blueberry. Also, Africa is the region where you can find the fruitiest coffees.

  • African roots
  • Citrus (sweet lemon)
  • Bergamot
  • Jasmine

African Coffee Culture

African coffee is well-known for its taste. The coffee aromas are in a class by themselves. Also, Ethiopia and Kenya use skill and time-tested techniques to produce the best quality beans. Today, advanced technology also helps.

For instance in Ethiopia, no one drinks coffee alone. The culture of drinking coffee in Ethiopia is quite different from the U.S. You will find some Ethiopians add a little sugar, honey, salt, and/or a bit of butter.

As coffee consumption grows on a continent that prefers tea, the more coffee culture will expand as well. Also, as the middle class in Africa grows, the number of coffee drinkers is expected to grow as well. Because more people will have a little extra money to spend, they will be able to afford coffee.

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Which African countries produce coffee?

Although Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, many central and eastern Africa countries also produce excellent coffee beans. Those countries are Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Which African country produces the most coffee?

Coffee from the African continent accounts for around 12% of the world’s production of coffee beans, and within this, Ethiopia and Uganda combined account for approximately 62% of the total output.

What does African coffee taste like?

Many of the country’s crops are of the robusta species, but farms focusing on arabica coffee are producing stellar results. These specialty-grade beans offer a deep earthy flavor, citrus tang, and fruity sweetness

Final Thoughts on African Coffee

African coffee is considered one of the finest because it just tastes good. Coffee shouldn’t taste burnt or raw. The beans from this continent have a unique taste, aroma, and incredible darkness that will leave your taste buds amazed. Coffee originated in the cocoa fields of West Africa. In the area of two rivers: the Gedi and the Zambezi. In addition, African coffee benefits from optimal weather conditions because of its proximity to the Earth’s equator.

This article has narrowed down the hundreds of products and brands to just a few. All you have to do is compare them based on your likes and buy. Salut!

Further Reading


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Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.