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Geographic Indications for the Origin of Coffee

16 January, 2018

In Ethiopia there are a number of terms customarily used by the coffee trade based on the various districts where the coffee is grown, such as Harrar (or Harar), Sidamo, Limu, Yirgacheffe (or Yrga Cheffe), Kaffa, Gimbi (or Lekempti), and Djimmah. For the past 100 years both coffee exporters and roasters have used these words on their bags and packages to connote the districts in Ethiopia where the coffees originated, as many of these coffees show distinct differences in their flavor profiles. Harrar, Sidamo, Yirgacheffe and Limu have become more widely known to consumers in the last 20 years, largely due to the growth of the specialty coffee industry.

In 2005, the Ethiopian government initiated a program to “register trademarks for Harrar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo in 40 countries - and eventually four other well-known Ethiopian fine coffees with good reputations.” According to Light Years IP, an organization assisting the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) with this project:

The trademark program will be followed by a licensing initiative – the EIPO and other ministries will be trained to negotiate with international importers to recognize Ethiopian brand ownership of its high quality coffees. Control of the name brand use through licenses will allow Ethiopia to play a significant role in determining export prices for its fine coffees more relevant to the high world market prices.