This coffee works at a wide range of levels from City to Full City+, probably even darker - the brighter jam-like fruited sweetness is going to be found with a well-developed lighter roast, around City+, and well before the coffee enters 2nd crack.
This is our selection from one station in the Aricha kebele in the Yirga Cheffe area. There are two coffee stations in close proximity here, and Koke is just up the road, very close to Yirga Cheffe town. The great thing with Aricha is that Sweet Maria's has first selection of coffee, and we bought a good deal of the lots offered this year. There's other Aricha coffee (it is an area east of Yirga Cheffe town, so I suppose a lot of coffees can borrow the name), but this is from the actual Aricha station. It's a dry-processed coffee with intense fruited character, body and sweetness, and has received extra care in preparation to exclude under-ripe coffee cherries. Dry-processing means that the coffee was not pulped (the outer skin removed) and fermented to remove the fruity mucilage layer. In dry processing, the coffee cherry is picked and laid out in raised "beds" in the sun, turning the red fruit to a deep brown color over the course of two weeks. After a storage period, the coffee seed is hulled out in one step, removing all the dried skin, fruit and parchment layers at the same time. The Aricha was prepared to the standards for Grade 1, which means removing over-ripe and under-ripe cherries that can be seen in the final green coffee as with either shiny green silverskin coating the bean, or fermenty sour beans. This extra work improves the overall cup quality and consistency in roasting.
Aricha is a very fragrant coffee, a lingering aroma of sweet berry and florals, conjuring a sort of caricature of washed Yirga Cheffe counterparts. It's a coffee you can smell throughout the house when you grind it, and certainly not one to share the spotlight. The fragrance has strong fruit scents of tropical flowers, along with fruit jam smells, a bit like strawberry preserves. The floral aspect builds with the addition of hot water, a fresh-cut jasmine smell, along with a honey-like sweetness underneath, and intense plum and peach smells released in the steam off the break. The cup is remarkable, fruit flavors like dried strawberry, stone fruit juice, and ruby red grapefruit coming up as the cup cools. There's a citric brightness too, an acidity often dulled in naturally-processed coffees. City+ roasts show depth of sweetness, layered raw sugar notes, and a flavor of pulpy orange juice, and those closer to Full City will see the addition of a pleasantly bittering cacao flavor on the tongue. The list of flavors we had from our test samples is too long to list; it's a complex coffee that inspires many, many descriptors. The general groupings involved jammy fruited flavors, complex sugar-browning sweetness, some pleasantly bittering cocoa notes. It's a fantastic brewed cup for fans of fruited dry-processed coffees.