Sidama is in the south of Ethiopia and encompasses several other zones (locally known as woredas). It used to be part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People (SNNP) Regional State, but after a referendum last year, split and became a regional state in its own right.
It is home to a population of around 7.8 million people, who speak the Cushitic language Sidaama or Sidaamu Afoo. Like many other ethnic groups across Ethiopia, the Sidama people have their own traditions, culture, and even their own UNESCO-recognised New Year, called Fichee-Chambalaalla.
The region spreads across fertile highlands south of Lake Awasa in the Rift Valley. Elevation ranges from 1,500–2,200 m.a.s.l., meaning that coffees ripen slowly in cool temperatures, developing sweeter and more acidic flavours. The soil is fertile, and with 1,200–2,000 mm of annual rainfall, the conditions are ideal for growing coffee.
These high elevations also mean that the coffee tends to ripen slower, with a later harvest season than the rest of Ethiopia. This allows the cherries to develop those complex flavours and aromas characteristic of Sidama coffee.