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Ethiopia Sidamo Heche Coop

August 22, 2006
Jim Schulman

"Platform Dry Processed." Remember this phrase; in a few years time it will be to coffee what "Methode Champenoise" is to champagne, and "Cask Selection" to single malts, signifying the highest standard in processing. Quite simply, it means the coffee cherries are dry processed on Kenyan style drying platforms, rather than on the ground. The drying cherries have to be kept on the platforms for nearly two weeks, as opposed to the three days or so required for drying washed beans, so this method is very costly. What it produces is the classic dry process heavy bodied sweetness, along with the cleanliness and brisk acidity of classic wet processed coffees. As far as I'm concerned, this is currently the state of the art for best actualizing all the potential hidden in the coffee cherry.

For now, there's only one place on earth to get coffees processed like this, the Sidamo region of Ethiopia, including Yrgacheffe township. The world was first introduced to these coffees in last year's ecafe auction, and since then, Miguel Hoza of Paradise Roaster's has done coffee lovers the singular service of sourcing these coffees and keeping them stocked. The Heche Sidamo is the second coffee of this type he's offering, after the Bale Kara.

Superstars make grand entrances; superstar coffees have heads turning as soon as they are ground. The Heche is a superstar coffee, and its floral, berry and chocolate notes start filling the room when it's dry, and continue to dominate the cupping table as it is brewed. Tasting reveals an snappy and heavy bodied cup. Unlike the Bale Kara, this coffee is not soft and honeyed, rather it's a semi-sweet combination of dark chocolate and tart berries. The slightly peppery and tannic roast flavor gives the taste a structuring that is reminiscent of great Kenyas. The sweetness comes out in the finish, combining with the roast taste to produce a hint of peppery spice.

Given the strong character of the cup, I wasn't expecting it to perform well as an SO shot. However, neither the structuring tannic flavors noir the acidity get pushed over the top by the pressure brewing; in fact, if anything, the shot is slightly sweeter and mellower than the cup. However, this is not a coffee for milk drinks; even a macchiatto will mask it's distinct qualities.

Dry Fragrance: 5.0
Wet Aroma: 4.5
Flavor: 8.5
Finish: 9.0
Acidity: 7.5
Body: 8.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 92.5

  • Lighter Roasts: Ultra-aromatic, highly structured, tart berries and semi-sweet chocolate
  • Darker Roasts: Good to medium dark roasts with developing chocolate and dried fruit
  • As Espresso: Excellent SO, cup qualities undistorted, North Italian roast best


UPDATED: August 23, 2006