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 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 of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange.
This coffee is from Nardos, a mill that is located in the Guji area of Sidamo, 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 mill is located in the Guji area of Sidamo zone near the small village of Michicha.
The population here is only between two to three thousand, and most of these people depend on coffee as their main source of income.
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 again on a concrete patio.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Ethiopia Sidama Ardi, from Brio Coffeeworks in Burlington, Vermont. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Michicha, Sidama, Ethiopia
farm: Biru Bekele Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Ethiopia Commodity Exchange
elevation: 1700 – 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Ethiopia Heirloom
The aroma of the Ethiopia Sidama Ardi is sweet and fragrant, but mellow and subdued, characterized by soft notes of caramel, brown sugar, citrus, and floral aromatics.
Taking my first sips from the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by a lightly creamy medium-bodied coffee that, just like its aroma, is sweet, characterized by sugar brownings and subtly sweet fruits. I’m tasting caramel, vanilla, cane sugar, cantaloupe, and the faintest, most minimal hints of blueberry (which I am more than okay with).
As the cup cools off, the flavors amplify themselves a bit but it’s still a very mellow coffee. Some other flavors have emerged here in the second half of the cup, as well: sweet strawberry, honeysuckle, violet, bergamot, lavender, and a mellow nectarine acidity.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
I’ve had a lot of versions of the Ethiopia Ardi here at the Table over the past few years and, by and large, they’ve all been very, very different from each other. (It’s always amazing to me that one coffee can be so varied from roaster to roaster…) I’m very happy to report that this Ethiopia Ardi, from Brio Coffeeworks, is keeping that tradition going.
Of all the versions I’ve had of the Ardi, this was the most mellow and subdued. It wasn’t flashy or particularly lively; there weren’t any big berry bombs exploding all over my palate; instead it was on the lighter side of a medium-bodied coffee and it was characterized by creamy caramel, soft melon, a touch of citrus, and floral aromatics.
It wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be, which only goes to show that you can never truly pin down the Ethiopia Sidama Ardi.