Äthiopische Sidamo Kaffeebohnen

Ethiopian Sidamo coffee beans

Adiam Engeda

The Sidamo region in southern Ethiopia is one of the most famous coffee growing regions in Ethiopia. Along with Harrar, Yirgacheffe, Limu and Guji, Sidamo has a designation of origin for the coffee grown in this region. This is not surprising when you consider that the altitude of 1,550 to 2,200 meters above sea level, the abundant rainfall and the fertile soil make the green coffee from Sidamo so remarkable.

The Sidamo coffee-growing region is named after the Sidama people. It lies in the course of the Great Rift Valley, and thanks to the fertile volcanic soils, Sidamo's landscape is lush and green. There are several freshwater lakes that provide drinking water and water for agriculture.

Cultivation of Sidamo coffee

The strength of Sidamo coffees lies in the variety of flavor profiles. All Sidamo coffees are very complex, which is due to the diversity of local landraces. Varieties can vary from town to town and even farm to farm, with each farmer having more than one unique variety that is rarely if ever found outside his plot.

When all of these different varieties are mixed at the local wash plant, the resulting mixture expresses the complexity of plant genetics in that area.

Cultivation practices in Sidamo are still largely traditional. Sidamo farmers usually grow their coffee plants together with other plants. This practice is common among small farmers because it maximizes the use of the land. In addition to traditional intercropping, Sidamo farmers typically use very little or no fertilizers or pesticides.

Harvesting Sidamo coffee beans

The farmers selectively hand-pick the ripe cherries and take them to a nearby washing station. In Ethiopia, coffee is processed using either the “natural” or “washed” process.

Naturally prepared Sidamo coffee

After harvesting, the cherries are placed on raised beds to dry in direct sunlight while the fruit is still intact. During drying, the cherries are turned frequently to ensure even drying. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks for the cherries to dry.

Washed, processed Sidamo coffee

All coffee is selectively harvested by hand before being delivered to a collection point or directly to the washing station. At the washing station, the coffee is sorted to remove damaged or underripe cherries and then sent to the pulper for pulping. It is then fermented for around 24 hours, depending on the weather conditions.

After fermentation is complete, the parchment is washed thoroughly and then sorted according to density in washing channels. After sorting, the coffee is soaked in tanks of clean water for 12 to 24 hours to remove all traces of mucus.

After washing, the parchment is moved to raised beds where it dries in the shade for 10-14 days until the moisture content reaches about 12%. During this time, the beans are turned regularly and sorted by hand several times to remove damaged beans.

Classification of Sidamo coffee

Classification in Ethiopia is based on visual inspection for defects and cup quality. Grade 1 is considered the highest coffee quality. Grades 1 and 2 are considered specialty coffee, while grades 3-9 are classified as commercial coffee.


The exceptional quality of Ethiopian coffee is due to a combination of factors. The genetic diversity of coffee varieties results in a variety of flavors, even between (or within) farms with similar growing conditions and processing methods. In addition to the varieties, the processing methods also contribute to the final quality. The final key ingredients to great coffee in Ethiopia are the production traditions that have produced the genetic diversity, processing infrastructure and the great coffee we enjoy today.

Most producers in Ethiopia are smallholders and the majority continue to grow coffee using traditional methods. This means that most coffee is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The coffee is grown, harvested and dried almost exclusively by hand.

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