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November 25, 2009


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Ed Whitman

Thanks for posting notes from your trip. I have seen 'Sidama' used more frequently, how is it different than Sidamo?
Thanks, Ed

Youri Vlag

Thanks Daniel, you have one of the most interesting coffee blogs! Please keep it up.

Daniel Humphries

Thanks, Youri!

Ed: There's a couple different issues at work with the whole Sidama-Sidamo thing. First of all there is no organized system for transliteration of Ethiopian-language words into English. There's no one Ethiopian language, though Amharic is the lingua franca. There are also Orominya, Sidaminya, and a ton of others. When the words are put into the Roman alphabet, there's no agreed-upon spelling, so that's why you see Yirgacheffe spelled Yergacheffee, Yirgachefe, even Yrgacheffee, etc. So some of the Sidama-Sidamo confusion may stem from that.

But also there are two distinct geographical entities called Sidama and Sidamo. Sidamo with an "o" is a name the government gives to the large southern state that is West of Arsi and Bale and which runs to the Kenyan border. All of the towns of Awassa, Yirgacheffe, Aleta Wondo, Dila, and many others are all a part of the Sidamo state.

Sidama with an "a" is a much smaller area in the north of larger Sidamo. It referes to the area around the town of Awassa, just north of Yirgacheffe. Aleta Wondo is part of the Sidama area.

So, technicially Yirgacheffe coffees are also Sidamo coffees, though they are not marketed that way.

Anyway, lots of ways for these two names to get mixed up, and they frequently do. On the bright side, they are the same general region of the country and produce a relatively intra-regionally recognizable cup profile. But if you are trying to trace the specific origin of a coffee, the name Sidama or Sidamo doesn't tell you very much and one should ask for more names — towns, mills, etc — to clear up the confusion.

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