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Aricha, located in the Yirgacheffe district of Gedeo, is a notably small region often referred to as a kebele, a type of municipality. Its reputation is rooted in the cool climate and breathtaking landscape, and Aricha's washed coffees are widely esteemed for their vibrant, floral, and diverse flavour profiles. Yirgacheffe coffees are renowned for their unique depth and clarity, offering delightful complexity while remaining an accessible coffee for roasters all over to showcase, a gem not to be taken for granted.
One of the distinctive features of Ethiopian coffees, as we know today, is the presence of at least 6,000 distinct native coffee varieties within the country. Not all of these are formally documented, which means that each village and community of coffee producers frequently cultivate varieties that differ from those of their neighbours, often without being aware of it. This abundance may sound like limitless possibilities in your cup, but it is precisely what has gifted Ethiopian coffees with the breadth of flavours cherished by the coffee industry and its drinkers for years. It’s what makes exploring this region truly exciting for roasters.
Accessing Aricha can be challenging, as the journey mainly involves traversing dirt roads along the slopes of the Great Rift Valley. The Aricha micro-climate, perched at a high elevation, maintains cool temperatures, creating optimal conditions for coffee cultivation. This specific lot is sourced from over 450 farmers and processed at the Gizat washing station. Here, the coffee undergoes various sorting, ferments for 36 to 72 hours, gets washed, and finally dries on raised beds for up to 15 days. The drying process is carefully managed, with regular turning to prevent undesirable mould growth or over-fermentation. Subsequently, the coffee is sent to a dry mill for sorting by colour, density, and size before being bagged for export.
In Gedeo culture, the locals of Aricha share a rich historical connection with the native wildlife, with birds holding particular cultural significance. The people of Aricha believe that birds can foretell future events, whether they are bad omens such as death, war, and disease or indicators of good fortune in matters like birth, weddings, weather patterns, and communal harmony. One specific bird, the Bekkeko, announces the onset of the farming season; its arrival and chirps alert farmers to plant their crops and prepare for the impending season and growing cycle. This mystical bond with nature has endured for as long as Gedeo itself.