Ethiopia Sidamo Ardi
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It’s day 2 of Augie’s Coffee Roasters week. Yesterday, of course, we kicked off the week right with an incredible El Salvador.

Today, Augie’s supplied with us a coffee that I had last year at Madcap—one that even made its way onto my Top 25 Coffees of 2012 list. Here’s hoping that this batch can live up to my expectations of it.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Natural Sidamo Ardi, from Augie’s Coffee Roasters in Redlands, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.

This coffee is from Nardos, a mill that is located in the Guji area of Sidamo (or, Sidama), Ethiopia. Guji is located in southern Ethiopia in the Oromio Zone. It is one of the many small villages in the Borena Hagermariam district. The mill is located in the Guji area of Sidamo zone near the small village of Michicha.

The population here is only between two to three thousand, and most of these people depend on coffee as their main source of income.

In October 2009, Samuel Demisse read about the discovery of a 4.4 million year old human fossil found in Ethiopia. He was very fascinated by the news and decided to brand the Guji coffee he was cupping at the time under the name of “Ardi” as a tribute. Demisse is an Ethiopian and is the sole importer of coffees in this region and has a lot of family that works at the farm level; because of his close ties to the community and to the coffee, he is more able to purchase coffee and work directly with mills outside the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.

This is a naturally processed coffee, which helps to yield the typical flavors that are found in the cup. In order to control the drying process of this coffee it is first dried for two weeks on raised beds in the sun. There are several women who clean the coffee as it dries. Any under-ripe cherry stands in stark contrast to all the red cherries on the bed. All the under-ripe cherries are removed, and after two weeks, the coffee is set to dry on a concrete patio.

Ardi is a winner of mutliple awards including 1st place in a recent Eastern African Fine Coffee Association‘s “Taste of the Harvest” Competition.

the basics:

origin: Borena Hagermariam District, Guji, Sidama, Ethiopia
farm: Farmers of the Michicha Village
elevation: 1750-1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: natural
certifications: standard

the coffee:

Oh yeah—I remember the Ardi very well just from my first few whiffs of the aroma steaming out of the cup. Massive blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, and fig come exploding out of the cup like a big bomb inside a grocery store’s fruit stand. There’s plenty of collateral damage, particularly in the floral department, as orange blossoms and violets bloom in the finish.

The flavor proves to be nearly identical to the aroma, with a huge blueberry bomb up front, blackberry, and strawberry. Even more satisfying is the moist chocolate cake batter that propels all of those berry flavors forward. The coffee takes a bit of a turn for the unexpected after a few sips, however, with notes of bakers spices, spicy cinnamon, and, most surprising, a slightly vegetal rhubarb flavor, particularly in the finish.

As it cools off, though, the cup returns to what I was expecting of it: lively tropicalia and sweet, delicious savories. Berries on berries on berries—sweet blueberry mixed with tart raspberry and strawberry—, cherry, tangerine acidity, creamy vanilla, and banana cream pie with buttered crust.

Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.

the bottom line:

Round Two with the Ethiopia Natural Sidamo Ardi, this time from Augie’s Coffee Roasters, once again left me impressed. This time, though, it had a few surprises in store for me, and it serves as a perfect example of how processing methods can affect the profile of the final product.

This coffee wasn’t just a big fruit bomb, or a sparkling, lively cup of tropicalia, like a lot of natural Ethiopias can be. Sure, it definitely had those things inside, but it was also a little spicy and even a little vegetal. And this, of course, certainly embodies what one should expect from a natural coffee—they are completely unrestrained, uninhibited, and completely wild. They don’t pull any punches and they don’t hold anything back.

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