higher grounds trading company ethiopia scfcu

Today’s coffee was grown and harvested by smallholder farmers who belong to the Abela Galuko Cooperative, which falls under the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU).

Located in the Sidama region of southern Ethiopia, SCFCU began representing small-scale farmers in 2001 and has since grown to become the second largest coffee producing cooperative union in Ethiopia. The majority of its member coops are organic and Fair Trade certified and nearly all their coffee is grown in the shade of diverse, indigenous trees. Approximately 5,000 tons of sidamo coffee is produced per year, 95% of which is washed.

Harvest time occurs between September to December depending on the coffee’s altitude and rainfall. After the families harvest the cherries, they sell them to the primary cooperatives for wet processing. There are approximately 220 wet processing centers, 92 of which are owned by members of the coops. The dried parchment is sthen stored in a warehouse until delivery to the central market in Addis Ababa where the husk is removed and the clean beans are packaged for export.

Cooperative Coffees began importing unwashed Sidama coffee directly from Sidama Union in 2009.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Sidama SCFCU, from Higher Grounds Trading Company in Traverse City, Michigan. Feel free to pull up a chair.


region: Sidama, Ethiopia
farm: N/A
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Abela Galuko Cooperative
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Fair Trade, Organic, Rainforest Alliance


method: Hario V60
grind: 18, Preciso
coffee: 28 g
water: 450 mL
bloom: 1:15
pour: 2:30 concentric pulse pour


The aroma of this Sidama is definitely that of a natural processed Ethiopian coffee. It is hugely bombastic, bright and lively, super fruity, and features floral nuances. Chocolate, blueberry, cherry, watermelon Jolly Rancher, rose, and violet.

Wow. Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I have to say—I wasn’t at all expecting the coffee that my palate is presented; it’s certainly not the same as the coffee my nose found. The aroma profile portrayed this coffee as bright and lively, but the flavor profile is deep, dark, bitter, full-bodied, and gritty with a heavy, syrupy texture that is characterized by bitter dark chocolate, soily earth, grape jelly, and a bit of roastiness.

There’s a roastiness that tastes of smoke and copper and flavors of earth all the way through this coffee and, unfortunately, it rests at the forefront of every sip. There is a huge surge of syrupy blueberry, cherry, candied watermelon, and a zesty citrus rind acidity that comes from under it and attempts to break through the dense upper crust, but they don’t have much luck. Which is weird, because the roastiness really isn’t even all that bad.

Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.


I have to say, I was really disappointed in this coffee. Not because it was a bad coffee—it’s not a bad coffee at all; it’s just not as good as it could be.

Higher Grounds Trading Company’s Ethiopia Sidama SCFCU, as it is, provides a really solid, middle of the road cupping experience. That experience, though, isn’t reflective of the bean’s potential. If it weren’t for the “cooked” flavor of this coffee, it would have been a much different—a much better—tasting experience.

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