The Coffee Ride’s Kenya Gondo, which I reviewed a few days ago, surprised me with its roast profile that brought out raisins and molasses and darker flavors than I’m used to with a Kenyan coffee. The Coffee Ride owner and roaster, Josh Crane, has done it again with his Ethiopian natural coffee, Danch Meng (not the prettiest sounding name in a world of flowery, beautiful coffee names, is it? LOL). You can read a little more about Josh and The Coffee Ride in the Kenya Gondo review linked above, and there is also a video that explains the business and Josh’s passion about coffee and bicycles! There are several ways to purchase this coffee from The Coffee Ride, so you can see all of those on their website, too.
According to what I was able to find, Danch Meng is Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) for “perfect approach” or “good approach.” My English to Amharic translator was busted when I wrote this, so I will have to believe the website I found that said so! I suspect Josh sourced this coffee from Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders, and if that’s the case, then this is a joint offering between them and Levelup Coffee. Like all Ethiopian coffee it’s comprised of “heirloom varietals” (because there are some 4,000 known varieties of Arabica growing in Ethiopia and no one is going to name them all!) that come from multiple farms. In this case, the farms are found in the 1700-2000masl altitude range around Gelana Abayo and Dumerso, two coffee-growing towns near Yirga Cheffe, Ethiopia. And, finally, this is a dry-processed or “natural” coffee, meaning the coffee seeds/beans are dried out in the sun with the cherry intact, usually giving lots of fruit, sweetness and even a little ferment flavor to these coffees.
The first thing I noticed in opening this bag is that, like the Kenya Gondo I liked so much, the beans were visually a little darker than some of the Ethiopian coffees I am used to, but I know Josh dials in his roasts the way he thinks they are best, so I wasn’t too worried about it. I have had pretty mixed emotions about Ethiopian coffees (well, any coffees, really) that are overly roasted but I am also not afraid of a darker profile as long as the only thing I taste isn’t the inside of the roasting drum! There was some nice berry aromas coming off the dry beans, so that was a good sign, too.
This is definitely an unusual (in a good way) Ethiopian natural coffee because Josh’s roasting brings forward a lot of dark flavors, and I’m not talking about roast flavors. I mean, let’s be honest, drinkable coffee is ALL roasted, so you WILL get some roasty flavors in any coffee you’re drinking, however I wasn’t getting metal drum flavors or carbon and ash of anything like that.
Instead, the dark flavors I’m talking about were raspberry and blackberry and cocoa and maybe some plums. Lots of fruit, but not the shining, bright strawberries or blueberries found in so many Ethiopian naturals.
On the palate this is a medium-bodied coffee with a relatively light mouthfeel overall. The finish is a bit on the dry side but is not too drying and the flavors in the aftertaste are that cocoa and raspberry combination. Yum! As the cup cools florals become more apparent in the aroma and a bit in the flavor, too.
I’ll be honest, I was initially a little worried about how this coffee would be when I “eye-cupped” it (and that’s why you’re NEVER supposed to eye cup a coffee! LOL), but Josh did a great job with this one. As much as I love blueberry bombs falling from the sky during Ethiopian natural season, it’s rare to get one with these darker flavors that isn’t over-roasted, and this one is just right.
Do yourself a favor and buy a bag of the Kenya and Ethiopia together and you’ll have yourself two very different, accessible, and delicious coffees!