Unfortunately, we don't know a whole lot about the specific origin of this Sidama coffee. "Akrabi" are coffee traders in the Ethiopian language of Ahmaric, which seems appropriate for a coffee that is traded through the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange (ECX). It's one of only a few purchases we made through the ECX this year, and because of this, any provenance is stripped before the coffee hits the market. Basically all farmers that are not part of a cooperative submit their coffee to the exchange where it is first graded, and then sold in tiers based off that graded category. One major problem with this is that in an effort to unify a price structure, provenance is stripped. For the buyers, this makes it near impossible to uniquely market these coffees. So that is why we usually stick with coffee from cooperatives. And also because with cooperatives, we're able to see firsthand how the premium we pay for cherry is being utilized at the coop level. But we also want great coffee, period, and so it's difficult to resist an amazing sample no matter where it comes from (and with ECX we know they've gone to great lengths to make sure farmers are paid based on their coffee's grade tier, and they are paid quickly - not always so with intermediaries). And that's what we find with this coffee - an amazing Sidama, that is visually and cup profile-wise Grade 1 all the way (AQ1).
It's a bittersweet feeling to come across such a beautiful coffee from the ECX. It's great that we have the opportunity to buy a coffee this special through such a randomized system, but with the exceptional quality, we really wish we could figure out how to get it again next year! The dry aromatics have the sweetness of white honey, with a smell of fresh peach, nectarine, and clove spice. There's a floral note of honeysuckle in light and dark roasts, and our Full City roast has strong tropical fruits smells, like pineapple and ripe mango. Pouring hot water over the dry grounds brings up a sweet aroma of butterscotch hard candy and cinnamon. At City, the crust vacillates between ultra-sweet smells of sugar browning and berry pie filling. Full City brings on slightly more pungent aromatics like burned caramel and red grape juice. When breaking the crust, florals return to the front and center, and liven up an already alluring set of smells. The cup is juicy, with bursting sweetness and acidity that really shines. City roasts show flavors of honey and graham, and a nice lime-aid flavor that translates in the mouthfeel as well. Citrus flavors are bold, especially in light roasts, but balanced out a bit by substantial sweetness and lingering florals. Acidity is high in this coffee, but not over the top (like some Kenyas) and mellows out a bit with roast. That said, even our Full City roast had amazing, almost sparkling, acidity. Deeper roasts also bring out dark fruit notes like grape and blackberry, that play much less a part in the very light roasts. This coffee finishes beautifully with a flavor of black tea and honey that seems to hold on forever.