Sidama Coffee Comparison Cupping :: Sidama vs. Sidamo

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Thank you for visiting me again at!  This week I have ventured into the world of more formal ‘cupping’  this is the 

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process in which coffee is tasted at it’s most raw state.  The beans are ground, placed into a bowl, and hot water is poured directly onto the ground coffee.  This allows for the true flavors to shine through, without a particular brewing method influencing the taste.  I am not a formally trained ‘cupper’, but I figured I’d give it a shot, especially seeing as I received 3 varieties of coffee from the same geographical area.  I chose to do this cupping blind, by writing the name of the coffee on the bottom of the cups.  This way, I wouldn’t be swayed by any other factor than the taste of the coffee.  I’m pleased to report that all three of the coffees that I cupped were excellent, and each had unique taste profiles.  It is quite something to taste them side by side, it accentuates the variation in flavor.

This was a fun experiment in cupping, and I’m going to get some formal education on comparative cupping next month when I attend an SCAA Skill Building Workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan!  I can’t wait to meet some folks that I’ve chatted with online, and to get as much coffee knowledge as possible in 2 days.  Then it’s off to Chicago for 2 days, and I’m definitely going to hit Intelligentsia while I’m there 🙂

I posted on Twitter that I was enjoying some excellent “Sidamo” coffee from Joebella Coffee.  I received at reply that asked if I was going to use the term Sidamo or Sidama.  What?  I’ve never heard of this variation.  After a bit of research, although not exhaustive, I found many references to the term “Sidamo” as actually being a degrading and insulting term.  I read that the term was given to the people of this area when they were overtaken by the invading Abyssinian army in 1891.  Bashah Aboye, the general of Minelik, first used the term “Sidamo” to refer to the people of the Sidama region as a way to humiliate them, and strip them of their identity.  It is for this reason that I will choose to refer to the coffee and the region as Sidama.

Sidama is bordered on the south by the Oromia Region except for a short stretch in the middle where it shares a border with Gedeo, on the west by the Bilate River which separates it from Semien Omo, and on the north and east by the Oromia Region. The administrative center for Sidama is Awasa; other towns include Irgalem and Wendo.

The Central Statistical Agency (CSA) reported that 63,562 tons of coffee were produced in Sidama and Gideo combined in the year ending in 2005, based on inspection records from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea authority.  This represents 28% of Ethiopia’s total output.

Check out the coffees that were featured in this video at Joebella Coffee and BaristaOnDutY (BODY) coffee.

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See you next time with a special about a unique growing region in Ethiopia and the special coffees cultivated there.

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