The Sidamo zone, also known as Sidama, is a coffee area found in the state of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). Because Sidama is the name of the politically defined province, we like to treat Sidamo as the, much larger, coffee zone that encompasses several other zones and woredas outside of Sidama.
The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange has divided the Sidamo zone into five geographical areas to create a sense of structure: Sidama A, B, C, D, and E. These letters do not represent quality grades, they merely give a geographical indication. Quality is defined by sensory analysis and green grading, where Q1 and Q2 are identified as specialty coffee, and everything between 3 and 9 is perceived as commercial grade coffee.
Sidama has a population of around 3.5 million, who speak the Cushitic language Sidamigna. As all other ethnic groups in the country, they have their own traditions, culture, and celebrate their own New Year called “Fiche Chembelala” (UNESCO inscribed it as world heritage in 2015). The people take great pride in this.
The strength of Sidamo lies in its variety which often results in a profound complexity of taste. The farmers in Sidamo grow their own unique varietals on small pieces of land and deliver their yields to processing sites. This results in a blend of “mixed heirloom” that gives Sidamo coffee its sought-after complexity. Sidamo coffee is often used as a single but could also be the pillar of a strong blend.