The Lovegrass

Our Story


My name is Yonas (Aka Yilikal) Alemu. Ethiopian by birth, and like many of my compatriots, my childhood and upbringing was intertwined with farming Teff.

I was born and brought up in a small farming village called Jiga in northern Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Highlands. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of getting up before dawn and walking through the morning dew barefoot to help in the Teff farms. It should all be a distant memory now, as I left it all for Europe having won a university scholarship nearly three decades ago.

After finishing my education in Europe and becoming a certified Financial Risk Manager, I spent 17 years working in some of the world’s top investment banks. Despite all the changes in my life, I found myself spending an increasing amount of time sitting on the trading floor daydreaming about the small village and the farmers I had left behind so many years ago. I knew that the experience of farming Teff had left an indelible mark on me. In 2014 I noticed that some health food stores around the City of London where I worked had Teff on their shelves. What is more, I discovered that it all came not from its origin Ethiopia, but from the US where the seed is commercially cultivated. From the day I found this out it was impossible for me to reconnect and focus on my busy day job.

I was no more the banker but preoccupied with what I left behind so many years back. It was time to tell the story of the ancient journey of Teff and the Ethiopian farmers who toiled for millennia to bring this versatile grain to the world.

Lovegrass Ethiopia was born.


Teff, also known as ‘Eragrostis Tef’ or ‘Williams Lovegrass’ is a tiny seed native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is the most ancient domesticated grain having originated between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. For thousands of years the Ethiopian people have used Teff as the main ingredient of their staple food ‘Injera’ - a sourdough bread with spongy texture.

The usefulness of Teff, however, goes way beyond Injera – Teff Flour is extremely versatile as it works as a fantastic gluten free replacement for conventional flour.

What sets Teff apart from other grains, however, is its outstanding natural combination of nutrients that promote endurance, performance, and good health. Not only does Teff help people suffering from Celiac disease, IBS or heart problems but it can aid weight loss, improve circulation, support bone health and boost the immune system.

Many of Ethiopia's elite runners have attributed their physical abilities to Teff including Haile Gebrselassie (who set 27 world records in his career from 800m to full marathon), Kenenisa Bekele (current world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter), and Tirunesh Dibaba (outdoor 5,000-meter world record holder).

For Muscle Development
• Teff is a great source of easily digestible protein (similar structure to egg white but vegetable based so easier for the body to digest).
• Teff provides eight different amino acids acts which (when combined with Teff proteins) is a great combination for muscle building and recovery.
• Teff is a good source of Copper which provides the body with energy and helps heal muscles, joints and tissue fibre.

For Your bones
• Teff is a good source of calcium and manganese which are critical in ensuring that bones solidify properly.

For Your Gut
• IBS sufferers have claimed Teff has been life-changing as it relieves inflammation, constipation, bloating, cramping, and other serious gastrointestinal issues.
• It’s a great source of prebiotic fibre which stimulates the growth of good gut bacteria.
• Teff supports Colon health and digestion with a high composition (20% - 40%) of “resistant starch,” a recently-discovered dietary fibre.

For Circulation
• The high iron levels in Teff support your body’s ability to produce hemoglobin which supports oxygenation of your heart and other organs.
• Iron can help reduce dizziness, cognitive impairment, muscle cramps, and headaches.
• Teff has been recommended to patients suffering from anemia.

For Your Immune System
• Most grains provide minerals but the levels found in Teff are exceptional. Not only does Teff offer a high source of B vitamins but it is the only grain or cereal known to offer significant amounts of Vitamin C
• Teff is also high in essential minerals - magnesium, calcium and zinc.