Aricha:
the upcoming coffee region in Yirgacheffe

What makes a coffee region go viral in just three years? If you come to think of it, it’s astonishing. Right? Because all favorable elements for growing coffee were already present in the region for decades. The fertile soil, several beautiful coffee varieties, the micro-climate. But also enough shade from the forest canopy and the care of generations of farmers. And still, some regions seem to pop out of thin air. Aricha, in the Yirgacheffe woreda, is such a region.

Why does Aricha enjoy popularity today?

It’s because people took the time to sit down with the local community for a cup of Buna (coffee) and recognize potential. Not just in taste but in the willingness of coffee farmers to build a coffee hub. Faysel Yonis is the person who sparked a small revival in Aricha. Faysel is an Ethiopian specialty coffee exporter with a focus on Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, and Guji.

Drinking buna with the Gedeo locals

Having a nose for developing better-tasting coffee, Faysel caught word about a washing station within Aricha that didn’t function to its full capacity. Faysel and the elders of the local village drank Buna and shook hands on developing the Aricha coffee hub. After this meeting, Faysel bought the washing station in Aricha and started to prepare for the first harvest. The agreement between Faysel and the elders came as an answered prayer for the growers because before this revival, they had to travel miles to reach the nearest washing station to deliver the bulk of their harvests.

Aricha proves it takes a coffee exporter like Faysel to push a coffee region into the spotlights. Today, buyers know their way to Aricha. And this can only bring more opportunity for the smallholders of the Aricha kebele.

Where is Aricha?

Aricha finds itself in the Gedeo Zone and Yirgacheffe Woreda. In official terms, it’s a kebele. You can reach the micro-region by taking the A8-highway that penetrates Gedeo from north to south. Honestly, it’s not a highway because it’s two lanes broad, dusty, and rocky. You need skill or a local driver to master this road and reach your destination unharmed. The kebele sits on the Eastern slope of the Great Rift Valley. Cool temperatures accustom to 2000 m.a.s.l. and light breezes make it an excellent holiday destination.

The farmer communities of Aricha

Coffee is a community beverage in Ethiopia. Not a one-man-show. Large and small groups, often without an official name, harvest cherries and take these to the nearest washing station for payout. The farming communities in the kebele of Aricha are Gersi, Idido, Reko Onancho, and, the like-named, Aricha. Faysel estimates that one-thousand Aricha coffee growers visit the Aricha washing station to sell their cherries.

The Aricha (Adorsi) washing station

Going back to Faysel’s fateful meeting with growers and elders. After taking on the monumental task of building a new Yirgacheffe coffee hub, Faysel and his team got to work. Aricha washing station, or known to some as Adorsi, needed maintenance to welcome the first cherries in 2018. But they got the processing train rolling and the first lots shipping with our help in 2019. And come to think of it, these first batches were featured in The Ethiopian Cup and sold for handsome prices and above-average premiums.

Coffee in Aricha

The Yirgacheffe coffee taste enjoys world-wide recognition. And the Aricha coffees are no exception. The bright citric acidity, floral brilliance, and chocolate/peachy undertones only start to describe what Aricha brings to the table.

Within the Aricha kebele, we often see these varieties pop up: Wolisho, Kurume, and Dega. And then there’s a pile of unidentifiable local landrace varieties which add to the mystery of the Yirgacheffe coffee taste. Are you interested in the Aricha taste? Take a look at our spot positions to see if we still have stock.

Culture and the Baallee system

The people in Gedeo structure their culture through the Baalle system. The Ballee functions as an administrative system within the entire Gedeo culture. The Gedeo people divide the cultural system into three stages called Rogas. The stages are Suboo, Riqataa, and Dhiibataa. The Abaa-Gadaa becomes the traditional leader of the Gedeo people and governs the Ballee system for the entire Gedeo region. After eight years, the Liikko or Logoda clans elect a new Abaa-Gadaa as the traditional leader of the Gedeo. The Ballee system is similar to the Gada system of the Oromo.

Gedeo myths

Birds are another exotic feature of Gedeo culture. People in Aricha respect domestic animals and treat them well, but birds have a mystical dimension. The Aricha people perceive birds as holistic creatures who foretell and forewarn for future events. Birds foresee incidents like death, war, disease outbreak, and overall ill-luck in life. The bad omens birds are Xixiyyo, Kitiyyo, and Shollocho. But other birds can bring good tidings too.

The birds that bring good luck foretell births, weddings, a good rain season, and even peace in the village. One bird takes the popular vote, the Bekkeko bird. The Bekkeko heralds the arrival of the farming season. The beautiful chirp of the Bekkeko alerts the farmers to prepare their farms and to plant crops like enset, coffee, maize, and beans. The relationship of the Aricha people towards nature manifests itself through these mythical chirpings.

Now back to the coffee bean.

Where to find Aricha coffee?

The coffee and region have rapidly become popular in the specialty coffee landscape. With the growing presence of exporters and importers, it is clear as day that Aricha coffee made a place for itself within the marketplace. As a coffee importer with a strong focus on Ethiopia, we work together with Faysel from the Aricha washing station. Take a look at our spot offerings to see if we have Aricha coffee on offer or sign up for our newsletter to receive spot notifications in your inbox. Want in-depth more information on Yirgacheffe? Then please read our guide to this breathtaking coffee region.