Ask Steve

What is the difference between Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Ethiopian Harrar?

Send all coffee related questions to

Send all coffee related questions to

Dear Steve,

What is the difference between Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (my favorite) and Ethiopian Harrar?



Short answer: Yirgacheffe and Harrar are two different geographic regions of Ethiopia.

Why do they taste different? Location is part of it, but the main differentiating factor between typical Yirgacheffe and Harrar coffees is processing method. Context alert: processing in the coffee industry refers to the method used by producers to turn freshly harvested coffee cherries into dry seeds ready for export. Somehow, they have to remove the seed(bean) from the fruit and dry the seed/beans. Turns out there are many ways to skin this cat… and they all make the cat taste wildly different. In Harrar producers typically employ the natural process(AKA dry process, AKA sundried) - where the whole fruit is dried in the sun, then the seeds are removed when dry. Producers of Yirgacheffe coffees tend to use the washed process(AKA wet process) - where the fruit is removed from the seed, then dried.

Natural process Harrar coffees tend to have heavy, fruity, winey characteristics while washed process Yirgacheffe coffees tend to have light, floral, citrus characteristics. Processing methods will leave similar fingerprints on coffees from all around the world, so if you dig washed Ethiopian coffee, you’ll probs dig washed “insert other country” coffees too.

Also, I can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet washed Yirgacheffe. But that’s just like my opinion, man.


Ask Steve

Why are my cups of French Pressed coffee sludgy?

Dear Steve-

I finally took the advice of every foodie friend of mine and started French Pressing.  I actually had a single serve French Press hiding in my pantry for what I presume is years.  Who knew?!

Everyone told me it was going to be amazing.  Clearly, I am doing something wrong.  There is always this sludge at the bottom of my mug.  Am I drinking coffee grounds?  How do I stop?

Please help,

Stick in the (coffee) mud

Dear Stick in the (coffee) mud,

Good on you and your French Pressing efforts! These days pour over brewers get all the attention, but the French Press is a classic brewer that never goes out of style!

So you're finding some sludgy silt at the bottom of your cup after brewing with the French Press? Good news, that's normal! Don't fret, you're doing it right! That little bit of silt at the bottom of the cup is just the nature of a French Press brew.

Every brew method uses a filter of some sort to separate coffee grounds from freshly brewed coffee. The French Press filters with a metal screen. That screen allows more fine particles to pass into your coffee than, say, a paper filter - hence, silt in your cup. Some people who prefer a cleaner paper filter brew cry foul on the French Press because the coffee it produces is too strong for their sensitive palates. Boohooo! The French Press should be celebrated for its unique brewing qualities, even if that comes with a bit of silt.

Final word: Embrace the sludge!