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 the Ethiopia Aricha, from Roseline Coffee in Portland, Oregon. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia
farm: Kerbal Aricha mill
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1800 – 2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Ethiopia Aricha is pleasantly sweet, complex, and intricately perfumed. Cane sugar, melon, rose hips, and raw honey.
Daaaannnnnggggg….. The very first sips of this coffee are immediately juicy, bright, floral, and super fruity. Honey and cane sugar coat the tongue in sweetness while soft whisps of chamomile and hibiscus tickle the sides of the tongue and roof of the mouth. At the same time, a massive deluge of fruit flavors roll in then explode over the center of the tongue like a Fruit Gusher, the juiciness splashing over and crashing into the sides of the mouth like waves.
As it cools off, all of the coffee’s individual flavors coalesce and coagulate into one super note, but I think I got a pretty good read on everything that was happening just prior to this to list all of its individual flavors: watermelon, grape jelly, cranberry, plum, raisin, strawberry, pomegranate, honey crisp apple, cherry, banana, rhubarb pie (crust and all), and zesty lemon.
Full body; juicy mouthfeel; grape acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
If I had to choose, I think my favorite thing about reviewing coffee is trying the same coffees over and over again, but from multiple roasters. It’s like finding the band that covers the Beatles best; all of these really talented roast masters doing their best to highlight a particular coffee’s best natural features while simultaneously stamping their own unique signatures on the roast—it’s actually a pretty special and sacred act when you consider it.
The Ethiopia Aricha has long been a favorite here at the Table. Each time I sample it, it becomes my new favorite version of it and, each time I sample it, I can’t even imagine that I’ll ever sample a better version of it. It’s a beautiful, delicious cycle. The Ethiopia Aricha, from Roseline Coffee, was certainly not an exception.
With its cleanness, crystalline clarity, well-rounded balance, massive amount of flavor, and the amount of punch it packed, this coffee left me absolutely dumbfounded, stupefied, and utterly gobsmacked. Yep—those are the three adjectives I’m going with as I try to pick my jaw up from the floor.
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