From April 2007
We spelled it [Yirgacheffe] for many years, then switched to Yergacheffe two or three years ago, and went back about 4-5 months ago.
Since it is an Amharic word, there is no absolutely correct spelling in the English language. The traditional spelling in the industry is Yirgacheffe. In Ethiopia, I've seen it written many different ways, but most commonly Yirgacheffe. Originally we switched to try to be a little closer to the phonetic pronunciation, but really it is pronounced somewhere in between Year and Yer.
‘Yir’ is pronounced between ‘year’ and ‘yerr’...slight ‘i’ sound that disappears into the ‘rr’. The ‘r’ is almost a rolling r, like in spanish. The ‘Ch’ is hard like ‘Chachi’.
I believe that “Yirga” means something along the lines of ‘town’ and ‘cheffe’ has something do with water, if I remember correctly. There is a lot of rainfall in the area, and so it translates roughly to ‘wet town’ or ‘town of water’ or something along those lines. Don’t quote me on that. I’ll double check next time I am there.
Yirgacheffe is a small town in the greater Sidamo region (although the map lines have recently been re-drawn by the new government along ethnic lines and Sidamo doesn’t exist—it is now called Sidama).
trabant wrote:Senor Jay Cunningham of Intelligentsia once told me Yirgacheffe means: let it settle (yirga) marsh (cheffe)
Peter G wrote:First of all, in Ethiopia I have noticed that there is rarely a standard Roman alphabet transliteration for anything including city names. I can remember standing on a road in Yirgacheffe and seeing signs written at least 3 ways: Yirga Chaffe, Yirga Cheffe, Yrgacheffe.... Problem is, Amharic has its own alphabet, and there is no standard way to transliterate it to our alphabet. Interestingly, one of the goals of the Ethiopian Licensing Initiative is to standardize Ethiopian coffee-place names for the west. I have always preferred Yirgacheffe because it is the most common I have seen, especially in the coffee industry.
As for pronunciation, that's hard too: Yirgacheffe is pronounced kinda like Irga CH'EF-feh with an almost silent Y, a very hard CH sound, and a slight exhale at the end. Amharic is a beautiful spoken language, and Ethiopians use a number of sounds we do not, especially slight and subtle breath sounds. These are impossible to write, of course!
Alistair wrote:noted from sweet marias: Starting with this lot, we will be spelling Yirga Cheffe as two words, as it is in Ethiopia.
I have heard many pronunciations of the region, none more confident than from an Ethiopian coffee exporter that exulted two me in two loud expressions HERGA HEFFE! or something of the like.
We have been so delicately pronouncing "yergacheffe" in that it rolls off our tongues like this elegant coffee... seems rather incorrect now.
So then in two words, yet how do we say them?
sweetmarias wrote:...As far as Yirgs or elsewise, it doesn't make a coffee any better or worse, and while we all want to be accurate in naming coffees and descriptions, there's a lot of wishful thinking (I speak for myself as well as for what I see around me) in the lexicon. In this insanely stupid race to get closer to origin than the next guy, these areas where we have "language slippage" are an amusing footnote, but not that meaningful. You can be right there, and get it as wrong as the person who will never get there, and that goes for the cup too. If a Yrgacheffe or Yirgacheffe or Yergacheffe or Yirga Cheffe or Yrga Cheffe or Irgacheffe get's to port promptly and ships on time is a lot more significant, this year especially. Thanks to Mnascé again for a being on the board - great post.
Peter G wrote:I DO believe it makes the coffee better, when you consume it with the knowledge of 1. where it was produced 2. who grew it and 3. under what conditions. Drinking coffee is a fundamentally better experience when it is complete, and engages the mind as well as the palate.
Peter G wrote:Yeah, Chris, maybe you're right. As I said, my reading of Tom's post didn't sound like him. I was partially reacting to the "Insanely stupid race to get closer to origin than the next guy" bit.
Peter G wrote:Mnasce-
Thanks for the information and the links! I have been looking for that sort of thing for a while now.
Of course, because I don't speak or write Amharic, I can't make heads or tails of your links. According to those standards you linked to, how would Yirgacheffe be spelled?
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