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Ethiopia is the History of Coffee

Coffee is now grown worldwide and traces its roots back to Ethiopia in East Africa.

Ethiopia is the mother of all coffee plants
Ethiopia is the mother of all coffee plants 

History, selling and processing of coffee beans in Ethiopia

The coffee cherry normally contains two beans which are flat on one side and develop in the center of the fruit with the flat sides facing each other. When only one bean is produced in the fruit, it is round and called a peaberry. In rare instances, three beans develop that are roughly triangular in shape.

Once the coffee berries turn bright red on the trees, farmers must pick them within two days or they will dry. After the cherry is picked, it begins losing moisture. If the cherry is sold by weight and it is not delivered quickly, then weight and therefore dollars are lost.

The beans are also losing weight due to physiological respiration. The rate of weight loss is greatest during the fermentation process when around 4% of the weight of green coffee is lost.

Once plucked, the farmers have 12 hours to get the ripened cherries to a pulpery, or coffee washing station. Farmers in distant villages far from a washing station must sundry the beans themselves, then take off the husks and transport them to the market.

There are two distinct processing methods for coffee, dry and wet. The dry method is used in which the coffee beans are dried whole without pulping. The beans are spread evenly over the drying area and turned over periodically. The use of mechanical dryers is becoming increasingly popular. The beans can be placed in the dryer right after washing. Overheating ruins the quality of the coffee.

Coffee is processed only to the parchment-coffee stage on most small Ethiopian coffee farms and plantations. The parchment coffee is then sold to a larger plantation or to a miller who mills the coffee. Large farms frequently do all their processing, including roasting. Coffee is frequently polished to remove all the silver skin and give the coffee a more attractive, smooth, shiny appearance.

The wet method involves the removal of the pulp, fermentation of the thick, gluey material covering the parchment skin, rinsing, and then drying. Most countries producing mild coffee use the wet method. All exported coffee, washed and sun-dried, goes up for sale through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, ECX, is a commodities exchange established in April 2008 in Ethiopia trading 90% in coffee and sesame seeds. Within a year, it became the main route for coffee exports in the continent’s largest producer of the beans after the state decreed traders must sell to exporters at the stock exchange.

ECX creator Gabre-Madhin won the Yara award at the African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha, Tanzania, for her role in transforming Ethiopia's commodity market. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin is an Ethiopian economist and a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.

Ethiopia is where the coffee plants Coffea Arabica, Canephora and Liberica originate. The African country, Ethiopia manufactures the, for the most part, the most distinctive and captivating coffees on the plant.

Ethiopia is the world's fifth largest producer of coffee, provides employment for nearly 15 million people, and makes up some 28% of the country's yearly exports. Coffee has a long and revered history in Ethiopia and is an important component of Ethiopian culture and society.

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Simple Cooking Tips

Make sure your cooking work area has good lighting so you can safely see what you are cutting, seasoning and cooking.

Get comfortable with the recipe, read it all the way through. Always read and re-read your recipes before you start cooking.

Season and taste as you go. Always taste your food before seasoning.

Spices and herbs are essential to African food cooking and baking. Keep your spices away from sources of heat like the stove or lights. Herbs and spices can lose their flavor when exposed to humidity and heat.

Recipes are only a guideline so feel free to substitute items that you like.

When cooking with chili peppers, protect your hands and eyes by wearing rubber gloves. Or coat your hands in vegetable oil and wash them with soap and water immediately after handling.