Cupping Notes: From Africa’s Ancient Ports

| August 30, 2010

Our green bean buyer, Daniel, checks in from Caffé Vita’s cupping table…

Today’s cupping featured enigmatic coffees from the horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula, regions most steeped in coffee history: the birthplace, Ethiopia, and the first major trading port, Yemen. These were rustic, natural coffees, each exhibiting different expressions of terroir and fermentation.

From Yemen were two Mocca Sanani, one wild and fruity, with aromas  pineapple, hazelnut, and brandy. The other was a more subdued affair, offering cocoa, sassafras, and apricot. The third Yemen was Anesi, low toned and earthy, with scotch like leather and wood aromas. I am on the search for an exquisite Yemen for the enjoyment of our Caffe Vita peeps, one that will both please and intrigue.    

Moving on to Ethiopia, we cupped two coffees from Harrar, and three from Sidamo. The arid conditions of Harrar typically allow for quicker drying of the fruit than in the Sidamo region, and this difference in climate manifested itself in the cup. While the Harrar was fairly consistent from cup to cup, with pleasing earthy cocoa and dark fruit aromas, the Sidamo was wild and unruly, each cup slightly different, some with blueberry and citrus, others yeasty and winey, and still others with a medicinal menthol-esque quality. I believe that due to an extended drying period these Sidamo coffees express more fermentation than the coffees of Harrar, which at times can be fabulous, but at others a tad rotten.

Though not all of these natural coffees were to my liking, they most certainly were a joy to cup, due to the unexpected and complex aromas that result from the process which created them.

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