by Manuela Violoni
Head of R&D and trainer of the Taster Study Center, she is specialised in semiotics and in synaesthesia of marketing. She is the panel leader of the sensory analysis laboratory of the Center and trainer at the International Institute of Coffee Tasters.
The Ethiopian coffee origins, coming from Eastern Africa, are possibly the authentic origin of coffee. According to a certain theory, all the Arabicas of the world come from an area in the west of the country, Kaffa, where the Islamic culture supported the consumption of this non alcoholic and brain-stimulating beverage. Nonetheless, the legend has it that the use and growing of coffee, as we intend it nowadays, have been started by monks from Addis Abeba, who used this beverage to stay awake during the long watches of the night.
The Ethiopia Sidamo derives its name from the area in the south of the country where it is cultivated at an altitude comprised between 1,500 and 1,800 metres. It comes in two varieties, i.e. natural and washed. For the former, the harvest is between October and March; for the latter, between July and December. Export is in different moments of the entire year. Both origins are a blend of small and medium round beans.
The washed Ethiopia Sidamo we tasted is characterised by well-defined and strong positive aromatic notes. The high level of cocoa, similar to the level of the Brazil Santos or the famous Jamaica Blue Mountain, goes hand in hand with a very strong flower and honey note followed by a pleasant touch of dried fruit (chestnut, almond, walnut and pistachio). The spicy notes of tea, liquorice, tobacco, and rhubarb can be sensed alongside the sensations of fine herbs. There is also a nice sensation of toasted, caramel and cereals as well as a slight balsamic note of mint, anise and alpine herbs. The burnt sensation is quite soft and, positive note, the negative odours which stand for a poor processing and stocking are very soft. The only exception is a touch of animal – in the area of the sweating horse, wet hair, leather and sweat – which gives that wild something. Even more in the background, there is just a smell of lime and, almost unperceivable, of mould. This coffee offers several pleasant and unexpected surprises.