Ethiopia is a land shrouded in mystery, the land that is considered the birthplace of humanity, a land of legend.
Ethiopia is a land of constant discovery, whether it’s the unearthing of a 4.4 million year old prehuman fossil nicknamed Ardi or the discovery of coffee by a goat herder named Kaldi.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of Madcap Coffee Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the third and final cup that has been prepared for us during our visit here—their Ardi Ethiopia. Feel free to pull up a chair.
This is the third and final Madcap coffee review during the #GRcoffeecrawl—the folks behind the bar were very kind to us letting us try so many different drinks while we were here. Their El Roble Costa Rica was really good, their Santa Lucia Costa Rica was incredible, now we’re changing things up entirely by going with their Ardi Ethiopia.
The 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 population here is only between two to three thousand, and most of these people depend on coffee as their main source of income.
The mill is located in the Guji area of Sidamo zone near the small village of Michicha. 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.
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 process
I haven’t even sipped it, but immediately I can tell that the Ardi is a natural. The aroma of this coffee comes booming out of the cup like a bomb of sweet tropical fruits and berries. This fruitiness eventually gives way to an eruption of cedar, a swelling of cocoa, and a push of molasses. All the while, floral aromatics float delicately the explosion of scents below.
This atomic bouquet carries over into the cup as well.
Upon first sip, my palate is greeted by a deluge of fruitiness. Massive flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry team up with tangerine citrus to titillate the palate sip after sip. Underneath all of this is a smooth, creamy bed of milk chocolate that keeps all of the fruitiness afloat.
As the cup cools off, a somewhat thick and syrupy fermented cherry liqueur flavor comes to the front, propelled forward by a tropical citrus acidity of lemon, lime, mango, and pineapple. Super sweet, but shockingly clean.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; pineapple acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Ardi Ethiopia coffee, from Madcap Coffee Company, is one heck of a cup of coffee! It embodies everything that I love about naturals, and none of the things that I dread about them—100 percent awesomeness.
This a massively fruity cup of coffee with an enormous amount of flavor. However, for as much as I rave about this coffee being explosive and massive and bombastic and flavor-filled, it maintains its balance and clarity—it is a wonderfully clean cup in which each individual flavor gets a chance to really shine.
This, of course, is what makes the Ardi Ethiopia coffee so unique—the distinctness of each flavor, and the sheer amount of flavor in each sip. This is not a coffee to be missed.
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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.