Royal Mile Coffee Roasters are a small husband and wife operation out of New Jersey and I keep seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed from time to time. A few emails back and forth with Jamie Blanchard and he had some samples heading toward Kansas City for me! This first review is of Royal Mile’s Ethiopia Dumerso, which you can buy directly in a 12oz bag for $15 or a 6oz bag for $6.
Dumerso is a washing station located near Yirga Cheffe, Ethiopia, and they processes coffee for many local farmers in the area. Dumerso produces a lot of coffee and focuses more on natural or dry-processed coffees like this one (see my article if you don’t know what that means). This is actually a Grade 1 natural, which requires a lot of sorting and people-power to produce. The coffee is composed of heirloom Ethiopian varietals from a host of farms and locations at a variety of altitudes.
My only regret with this coffee is that I only had 34 grams of it to mess with! In retrospect, I wish I’d had more because I wanted to try this as espresso, too, but all 34g went into the Gino dripper and I crossed my fingers in hope that I would do it justice! The beans looked to be a bit darker in roast color than most naturals from Ethiopia that I am used to, but color doesn’t always mean everything.
I pulled one “quaker” out of the bag, which is just an immature seed that is easy to spot because it will not roast anywhere close to the rest of the beans, so quakers stand out with their light color. Quakers are common to find in dry-processed coffee because you can’t always spot them when sorting coffee cherries by hand. They tend to be more rare in washed coffees because they will usually float to the top of the water tank and they get skimmed off before making it further into the process. Quakers can affect coffee flavor, so as a consumer it’s always a good practice to take a quick scan of your coffee, especially if it’s a natural, and pick out any substantially lighter seeds. Just a few can affect taste so it’s worth the effort!
As suspected, this coffee tasted a bit darker than the average natural because of the roast level. My palate was greeted by a lot of fruit jam flavors on the front end, with a good amount of dark, caramelized sugar and even a bit of ash holding down the low end of the coffee. The fruit flavors were a mix of blueberry and strawberry for me. I found that the darker roast muted the fruit flavors a bit, but also dropped the sensation of sugariness and some of the ferment that comes hand in hand with natural process Ethiopian coffees. Jamie’s roast did a good job balancing the fruit bomb and the dark chocolate ends of the flavor spectrum that you can get in these Ethiopian coffees and I think people who don’t like the overt sweetness and/or ferment character in these coffees would enjoy this type of roast.
As the cup cooled the berry flavors mellowed out a lot for me and some peach and melon notes picked up, which I enjoyed. It’s actually kind of rare, in my experience, to get a natural Ethiopian roasted a little further like this, as most roasters keep it very light to enhance the fruit as much as possible. I liked this coffee and it was a nice change of pace to get some of the cocoa and chocolate. Yes, the downside is that darker roasting will mute the berry jamminess some and comes with a bit of ash and dryness most of the time, but I liked this coffee and I think Jamie did a good job with it! I really wanted to try it as espresso because I think this coffee roasted this way would be a nice single origin shot.