There is a legend, derived from a 1716 Latin poem Carmen Caffaeum, written by a Frenchman, Guillume Massieu, about an Arabian goatherd named Kaldi. In fact, all the legends of coffee guide us to Arabia, and the city of Mocha as the birthplace of coffee. This was codified when Carl Linnaeus, ennobled coffee as Coffea Arabica in his 1753, Species Plantarum....
"ETETHIOPIA SIDAMO NATURAL SUN-DRIED
There is a legend, derived from a 1716 Latin poem Carmen Caffaeum, written by a Frenchman, Guillume Massieu, about an Arabian goatherd named Kaldi. In fact, all the legends of coffee guide us to Arabia, and the city of Mocha as the birthplace of coffee. This was codified when Carl Linnaeus, ennobled coffee as Coffea Arabica in his 1753, Species Plantarum. The thing is, as we now understand it; Ethiopia is the historical home of coffee. Old Carl, had it wrong, and the bean should have been named Coffea Æthiopica, but, with more than 260 years of usage it’s all water-under-the-bridge now. The name of the species is Coffea Arabica and that’s that.
Coffee may have been first found in the old Ethiopian province of Kaffa, now Kefa, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) in the southwestern highlands. Some, though I am not among these, believe that Coffee takes its name from this geographical place. The coffee culture of Ethiopia dates to a time when the fruit was chewed for its stimulating properties centuries before the seeds were roasted, ground and brewed. Mixing ground coffee with clarified butter (ghee) is an ancient and continuing practice in parts of rural Ethiopia, and has reemerged in beverage form in current US coffee culture as Bulletproof Coffee.
The origin of coffee roasting is still obscure. Carbonized beans from the Ras Al Khaimah tell indicate that coffee was already a commodity of commerce in the Persian Gulf region by the 12th Century AD. While the earliest extant implements for roasting date from the 15th century Ottoman Empire, there is a very old oral history of coffee roasting in Ethiopia as well. When Latinizing a local language often a single place name may have alternate spellings depending on the transliteration. The Sidama peoples, of the ancient Kingdom of Sidama became the province of Sidamo in Ethiopia’s south/central west. It was bordered by Kenya on the south, Somalia on the east, Gamu-Gofa on the west, and on the North by Shewa.and the north-east by Bale.It has an agrarian history rich in coffee growing.
Much of the hundred years between 1889-1995 were years of political and economic hardship and upheaval for the region, beginning with the first Italian invasion in 1889, and ending with the adoption of the 1995 Constitution of Ethiopia. Under the new constitution Sidamo has been divided between the Southern Peoples Region, the Oromia region the Somali Region of Ethiopia.
In some areas coffee names can still be somewhat elastic. Domestic demand, wide variations in processing methods, a profusion of micro-climates, the diversity of terrain, and the porosity of internal boundaries all contribute to the blurring of Ethiopia’s internal map-lines, making her coffee landscape a potentially difficult one to navigate for buyers in terms of traceability, and transparency. It would be helpful if The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) stepped in and sorted things out, but until they, or another government agency with authority does it there will continue to be some confusion in market names, and it has been pointed out to me by friends that this confusion may be perpetuated in part because it is good for business.
ECX) lists contracts for spot purchases. Coffee purchased through the ECX are not traceable back to the farm, only to the exchange. Purchases can be made directly from Farms and cooperatives for the purposes of traceability.
Coffee in Ethiopia is graded based by the way the coffee is green processed. Ethiopian produces both Natural sun-dried, and washed coffee. This coffee is a Natural sun-dried type grown at 1,500-2,200m (about 4,900-7,200ft). Washed (wet) coffees are graded 1-2. Natural (dry) process coffees are graded 3-5. Ethiopia Sidamo Naturals GR3 grow on a Savanna (an ecosystem characterized by grasslands and trees small enough or widely spaced enough to allow sunlight to reach the floor of the forest) of Central-western Ethiopia. Sidamo is left long on the tree before picking. Our sun-rack dried Sidamo has risen in popularity in the American specialty trade in recent years perhaps because of its long contact time between fruit and seed which produces a cup of almost merlot-like coffee flavor.
We roast these excellent Ethiopias darker than our other African coffees, as we believe that the darker roast accents the coffee’s best qualities of taste and body. Gillies Ethiopia Sidamo Natural makes an excellent French Press Coffee, and is a delicious, and may I say “mysterious” single origin espresso.