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.
Ps. If you want to get super nerdy about processing methods, check out all the definitions here.