ETHIOPIA – SINGLE ORIGIN
- REGION: Oromia Region (South-central Ethiopia)
- CHARACTER: High-toned, bright acidity and deeply sweet
- FLAVOR: Flavor notes of fresh lemon zest and jasmine coupled with rich-cocoa-like sandalwood are balanced by engaging fruit and floral notes.
- BODY: Light
- ACIDITY: Medium
- PROCESS: Washed & sun dried
Guji is part of the Oromia region in southern Ethiopia, next door to Gedeo Zone (SNNPR) where the famous Yirgacheffe micro-region is located. This steep, green area is both fertile and high, with much of the coffee growing at 2,000m and above. Coffee grown in the Guji zone was once classified under Sidamo (a larger zone next door in the SNNPR region.) Recently, Guji has become its own recognised area in coffee, thanks to the newly opened ECX coffee delivery centre, as well as the separating classification given to Guji beans; thanks to their unique cup profile and physical attributes.
Widely considered the birthplace of coffee, Yirgacheffe is a micro-region in Sidama, Ethiopia’s leading coffee-producing region. Its lush climate and mountainous topography are ideal for producing some of the finest Arabica coffees—fruity and floral, bright and balanced. The region is common for “garden coffee” production, where smallholder farmers grow fruits and vegetables alongside coffee – their primary cash crop. Most of the coffee grown in smaller plots of land are farmed organically, though not certified as such.
A large area in the fertile highlands in the Rift Valley, Sidamo is one of three trademarked coffee regions in Ethiopia So, what makes Sidama so famous for its coffee? The region spreads across fertile highlands south of Lake Awasa in the Rift Valley. Elevation ranges from 1,500–2,200 m.a.s.l., meaning that coffees ripen slowly in cool temperatures, developing sweeter and more acidic flavours. The soil is fertile, and with 1,200–2,000 mm of annual rainfall, the conditions are ideal for growing coffee.
These high elevations also mean that the coffee tends to ripen slower, with a later harvest season than the rest of Ethiopia. This allows the cherries to develop those complex flavours and aromas characteristic of Sidama coffee.
It’s reported that around 60% of coffee produced here is washed processed. Sidamo coffees are known for their rich, full body, vibrant crisp acidity, and floral and citrus notes.
Around 85 percent of Ethiopians still live rurally and make a living from agriculture; each family usually lives in a modest home (often a single round mud hut) and farms their own plot of land, where they grow both cash crops and food for their own consumption. In these areas, coffee is one of the main cash crops – covering from half a hectare to 1.5 hectares (the latter is considered big). This is usually planted alongside a second cash crop – often a large-leafed tree used in making roofs for (and also shade provider for the coffee) known as ‘false banana’. This looks like a banana tree but isn’t – instead its thick stem is used to produce both a nutritious flour and a fermented paste that staple ingredients (particularly across southern Ethiopia).