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.
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 Terminus Coffee in Tacoma, Washington. 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
grind: 22, Preciso
coffee: 60 g
water: 900 mL
pour: 2:00 pour, 2:00 drop
The aroma of the Ethiopia Aricha is unreal, with gentle and beautiful scents of purple flower petals, hibiscus, brown sugar, honey, and chocolate that come wafting out of the cup.
As I take my first few sips of the coffee, my palate is graced by a beautiful coffee that is characterized by flavors of flowers, sugars, and juicy fruit. A velvety texture carries along with it flavors of lavender, violet petals, brown sugar, tamarind, coriander, honey, and bittersweet dark chocolate. 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 the coffee 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: cantaloupe, grape jelly, cranberry, plum, raisin, strawberry, pomegranate, honey crisp apple, cherry, and zesty lemon.
Medium body; velvety mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Once again, the Ethiopia Aricha—this time from our very good friends at Terminus Coffee, the Puristas themselves—does nothing short of dazzle.
What an absolutely incredible coffee the Aricha is, and what incredible work the Puristas are doing as Terminus.
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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.