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Ethiopia Yrgacheffe Addis Ketema Coop

August 22, 2006
Jim Schulman

The first thing a coffee lover learns is that coffees have a regional character. In Ethiopia, Yrgacheffes are shimmering flowers and citrus, Harars are complex, dry, and wild, while Ghimbi-Lekemptis are strawberry-chocolate milkshakes. But the real story is different. Mills sort the lots for regional character, exporters and importers select them for regional character, and roasters buy them for regional character. It doesn't matter how the coffees originally varied in taste; by the time they have gone through these three or four selections, only the ones that fit the stereotype will get to our cups.

If there's one thing the high end coffee auctions have taught us is that there are brilliant coffees out there that don't fit their regional mold. Fortunately, these coffees have found enthusiastic public acceptance, and the supply chain has opened itself up to them. People can argue whether coffee quality overall is improving; but it's certain that coffee drinking has become a lot more surprising in these last few years.

I would never have guessed that the Addis Ketema is an Yrgacheffe. The dry aroma is all peaches; and once it's brewed, deeper tones dominate the cup. In the wet aroma, honey, toasted nuts, sweet distillates, and berries join in, in the taste, the flavors meld into a description defying whole that's both seductive and comfortable. There is no ferment or alcoholic edge, nevertheless, the experience is a bit like drinking a cordial or liquor. On cooling, there is a touch of the regional green tea tannins, but so slight that I missed it in the blind cupping.

As an espresso shot, much of this distinctness vanishes. However, the light bodied and sweet peach taste is still very nice. At a medium roast level, it would make a very workable aromatic top end to a blend. It is unsuited for milk drinks, in which almost all the taste disappears.


Dry Fragrance: 4.5
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.5
Finish: 8.5
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 7.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 91.0

  • Lighter Roasts: Peach and peach flowers, honey, berries, chocolate, iota of green tea
  • Darker Roasts: Not too dark, roast tastes become more tannic
  • As Espresso: sweet, slightly tart peach, excellent for a blend top end


UPDATED: August 23, 2006