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The Early History of Ethiopia's Coffee Trade and the Rise of Shawa

Merid W. Aregay
The Journal of African History
Vol. 29, No. 1, Special Issue in Honour of Roland Oliver (1988), pp. 19-25
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/182236
Page Count: 7
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The Early History of Ethiopia's Coffee Trade and the Rise of Shawa
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Abstract

This article draws attention to the possible importance of coffee exports from Ethiopia before the mid-nineteenth century. They may well have been a factor in attempts by Ethiopian emperors in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries to develop trade in Yaman, in India and with the Dutch in Java. By 1690, coffee was being exported from Zayla, and perhaps by other outlets. In 1705 and 1737 there were unsuccessful attempts by Europeans to obtain coffee direct from Ethiopia, though meanwhile the growth of plantations in European colonies had rendered such effort superfluous. Nonetheless, Ethiopia contributed to the Red Sea coffee trade during the eighteenth century, and it seems likely that coffee was exported from Enarya as well as from Harar. The kingdom of Shawa was well situated to exploit the development of coffee exports from the south-western highlands, and they would have assisted Shawa's efforts to distance itself from upheavals further north during the Zamana Masafent. The coffee trade may therefore have been more significant in the rise of Shawa in the later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries than historians have hitherto allowed.

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