Buying from Ethiopia continues to be a challenge for roasters and importers. More often than not, they are forced to purchase their lots through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange—which is difficult if you require some traceability or back story with the coffees you want to purchase. You have to become a detective, scouring through pages and pages and pages of roaster and importer websites to find information about any given ECX coffee.
Well—not you, personally; that’s why you have me: Drew Moody—Coffee Detective.
What I do know is this coffee comes from a washing station in the Gedeo Zone, west of the town of Yirgacheffe in the Guji area. The mill is called Kerbal Aricha and is owned by Surafel Birhanu, and is supplied by around 650 to 750 smallholder farmers (mainly garden growers), who produce around five containers of specialty coffee per year, and around ten commercial grade. The varietals are anyone’s guess, but seem to be mainly made up from Typica and various other Ethiopian heirloom varietals. This is what you get in Ethiopia: lots of small growers with lots of different mutations and variations of plants, and little interest in separating them and figuring out what they actually have on their hands.
Ripe cherries are delivered to the mill where they are graded, sorted, de-pulped, and then fermented underwater between 36-48 hours, depending on temperature, humidity, and other factors. Parchment is then sorted in washing channels and dried on raised beds. The drying period generally lasts for up to two to three weeks, until moisture level reaches 12% or lower. The beans are then transported in parchment to the ECX warehouse in Awassa, then dry-milled to remove the parchment prior to shipping.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Ethiopia Aricha, from Fratello Coffee Roasters in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Kerbal Aricha mill
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma wafting out of my mug of Ethiopia Aricha is refined and delicate. Floral and fruity, much like a white wine, with soft notes of chamomile, rose hips, cherry blossoms, and citrus.
Up front, the coffee seems a little disjointed; not in a bad way, it’s just a layered coffee, with one flavor appearing in one sip and another appearing in another sip. There’s something of a cherry blossom in one sip, then I get zesty orange peel, then I get a bit of a green apple, then a thin coating of honey.
At room temperature, the Aricha is so fine, so delicate, and so elegant. To be perfectly honest, at room temperature this coffee resembles an iced Darjeeling tea much more than it does a typical Ethiopian coffee. White sugar sweetness lays down a shifting foundation for a sharp lemon acidity and a black tea leaf aromatics. However, there’s just enough of a juicy cherry flavor here in the finish to keep it from being too tea-like, and making it resemble something more of a wine cooler.
Light body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
I’ve now had this coffee twice, and the Ethiopia Aricha, this time from Fratello Coffee Roasters, continues to impress me. Now, the first time I had the Aricha, it had a similar profile (light body, citrus, delicate, etc.), but really different flavors and those flavors presented themselves much differently; that version of the Aricha was wild, unbridled, and very tropically fruity. Not so with this Aricha.
This Aricha is such a fine, delicate, and elegant coffee. Additionally, it’s a complex coffee with flavors that are intricately layered over one another. Cherry blossoms, Darjeeling tea, a twist of lemon… Just wonderful.
Furthermore, this Ethiopia Aricha is absolutely incredible over ice. Find my recipe for iced coffee in a Chemex, buy this coffee, and prepare to be dazzled.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.