What’s Brewing: Ethiopia Dumerso Natural Process

IMG_5204This particular coffee from the Yirgacheffe region in Ethiopia originally came into my possession in September of this year, part of an order from Ministry Grounds, my usual green bean supplier. The coffee was quick to position itself atop the heap as one of the best of the year for me.

With an eye towards the 2015 “Christmas Roast” festive blend, I quickly added another kilogram to the next order in November.

The Region

The Dumerso mill is located within the Yirgacheffe region of the Gedeo Zone in southern central Ethiopia, bordered on the south by Kochere, west by the Oromia Zone, north by Wenago, east by Bule, and southeast by Gedeb (courtesy Wikipedia).

Local roaster Coffee Supreme also tells us:

The Dumerso municipality has around 700 smallholders contributing their coffee, each bringing with them the unique characteristics of the areas heirloom seed stock

The Coffee

Courtesy Ministry Grounds:

The Natural process involves the ripe cherries being delivered to the mill where they are sorted and graded, then placed onto raised drying beds in thin layers and carefully turned every 2-3 hours. 6-8weeks later, depending on weather and temperature, the beans are then de-hulled ready for export

  • Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Dumerso Gr 1
  • Region: Yirgacheffe, Southern Ethiopia
  • Varietal: Heirloom – Ethiopian
  • Altitude: 1800-2000 metres
  • Processing: Natural, Sundried (Kebel Dumerso Mill)
  • Tasting notes: A beautiful, balanced and natural coffee; sweet with dominant notes of strawberry and other berries; creamy body and a tropical finish.

The Brew

I mentioned in the introduction this coffee quickly became one of the standouts for the year, mainly due to its great performance across virtually all of the brewing methods I prepared it with.

IMG_5328Upon opening the bag, and of course after grinding, the aroma was akin to plunging head first into a bowl of mixed berries, of which the majority were strawberries. This of course followed through into the taste as well. Given the 2 kilograms of green beans I had at my disposal, I was able to tailor the roasts for both filter and espresso brewing.

As espresso1, there was a fantastic combination of ripe berry flavours and raisins, with just a little chocolate. Also evident was a smooth creamy mouthfeel, medium body and long finish. Used as a base for a latte or flat white, similar flavours were again on show, with the overall combination somewhat reminiscent of a cherry ripe bar.

When roasted a little lighter and filter brewed with the V602, you guessed it — predominantly strawberry, this time a little lighter and brighter, with a hint of jasmine and a little citrus to the finish. Again, that creamy-smooth, velvety mouthfeel.

Lastly, amidst the afternoon office kitchen rush, the Aeropress3 again saved the day, providing enough of a pause to allow my enjoyment of a similar flavour profile. Although not quite as bright as the V60, that smooth creamy mouthfeel, strawberry, and jasmine on the finish again made for a very enjoyable cup.

The Finish

IMG_5341So all in all this coffee was certainly one of the best for the year, and as a result contributed 60% of the “Christmas Roast” festive blend overall volume, in combination with a washed coffee from Honduras (El Tamarindo Horizontes) and a honey processed offering from El Salvador (La Esperanza).

Overall I was fairly pleased with how the blend turned out, a main aim being to keep the great Ethiopian berry flavours of the Dumerso at the forefront, whether brewing with an espresso base of through a filter.

I think you can probably tell I enjoyed this one, and it was nice to end the year on a high note from a coffee perspective.

Having now turned over into 2016 (and a happy new year to all), things have kicked off pretty well with my Third Wave Wichteln coffee arriving a couple of days ago — a beauty from ReAnimator Coffee in Philadelphia, kindly sent over as part of the exchange by Greg, a barista and trainer with ReAnimator.

IMG_5283Speaking of the Wichteln, you might be able to guess which coffee I sent to Bonn, Germany to fulfil my part of the exchange. It was indeed the Yirgacheffe Dumerso, however this time the washed process coffee, roasted of course by the professionals at Coffee Supreme. Hopefully the recipient will enjoy it, and also (fingers crossed) the additional bag of my home roasted Dumerso Natural thrown in as well.

I’ll leave it there, except to say I hope your journey (coffee or otherwise) into 2016 begins well and continues — lets say for at least twelve months or so. Now I’m off to brew!


  1. Dose 21.6 grams; yield 44 grams; time 27 seconds ↩︎
  2. Dose 19 grams; water 330 grams; brew time 3:15 ↩︎
  3. Inverted; dose 16 grams; water 200 grams; bloom 30s; brew 30s; flip and plunge 30s. ↩︎

ChefSteps Coffee Class

I created a ChefSteps login a little while ago, on the assumption I would find some coffee related goodness along the way. This just released offering, the ChefSteps Coffee Class, with world-renowned experts James Hoffmann (former World Barista Champion and founder of Square Mile Coffee) and Ben Kaminsky (US Cup Tasters Champion) looks the business.

For a very reasonable $US14.00, you can avail yourself of:

  • Unlimited Access
  • 12 HD Videos
  • Step-by-step techniques for the best French Press, Chemex, Aeropress, and Cold Brew coffee ever
  • Amazing tricks for smoother coffee
  • 4 recipes for cooking with coffee

Alternatively, you might like to start with the free Espresso Course (12 HD videos).

Either way, get watching – and thereafter – brewing!

What’s Brewing – Fifty K Christmas Blend

With another year having come and very almost gone, it was time to create the annual Christmas Festive Roast Blend for distribution to family and friends. Mind you, with things getting a little hectic towards the end of the year, the creation of this years blend was completed just a little close to the line.

Although not helped by a last-minute change to the composition of the specific coffees I’ve put together for this year, it was preferable to wait a little longer and produce something, which I feel, is a little more well-rounded and nicer in the cup. So without further ado, the details.

The Name

The finished product heading out the door.

The finished product heading out the door.

“What on earth is the Fifty-K reference in the name?” you would be well within your rights to ask. Although only the third time I have done this, the idea of putting together a festive Christmas blend with a specific name is based on two things.

First and foremost, given my own interest in roasting and brewing coffee, it is nice to give something to family and friends who take that little bit more care in how they brew theirs, whether through a home espresso machine, french press, Aeropress or other manual brewing methods.

Secondly, coming up with a name for the blend which reflects either the year I’ve had, other events of interest, or something which has perhaps captured my thoughts in the previous 12 months.

This year, as regular readers (and without a doubt my immediate, and very understanding family) will be well aware, November was a big month, swallowed up entirely by my participation in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Managing to meet the 50,000 word deadline by the end of November certainly wasn’t easy, however I was pleased to get there, and finished with a small novel of just over 55,000 words by months end, along with the inspiration to name this years blend in honour of that very challenge.

So, without further ado, what makes up this years festive roast, and how does Fifty-K Blend taste in the cup?

The Coffee

As usual, the green beans were sourced from Ministry Grounds, with the plan to put together a blend worthy of the season, with berry, stone and dried fruits, along with nuts and honey the key components of this year’s tasting notes list.


Green bean selection


Roasted bean blend testing

Finalised on December 21 - just made it!

Finalised on December 21 – just made it!

Searching through the many single origin coffees on the Ministry Grounds site, after a false start with the Guatemala Las Illusiones (a fine coffee in its own right, however wasn’t quite right in the blend), the individual coffees below made the final cut, and make up Fifty-K Blend in equal one-third portions.

Ethiopia Sidamo Bulga

  • Region: Oromiya – Southern Bale Mountains
  • Area: Bulga
  • Variety: Various heirloom cultivars
  • Processing: Fully Washed

Rwanda Nyarusiza

  • Region: Nyamagabe district, Southern Province
  • City: Between Butare and Cyangugu
  • Altitude: 1,935 metres above sea level
  • Variety: Red Bourbon
  • Processing: Fully washed, sun-dried on African raised beds

El Salvador San Cayetano

  • Region: Ahuachapán, Apaneca Ilamatepec Mountain Range
  • Altitude: 1,500 metres above sea level
  • Variety: Bourbon
  • Processing: Honey processed and greenhouse dried

The Rwanda Nyarusiza returns, having been part of last year’s Keeper’s Blend, however the above combination is a departure from the red berry dominance of the 2013 blend.

Individual tasting notes and further background can be found on the Ministry Grounds website by clicking on the above links, however as far as the blend itself tastes, below is what I have found.

The Taste

A standout - the AeroPress

A standout – the AeroPress

When combined with milk in a flat white or latte, it is a lovely rich and creamy drink, with the dried fruits and honey at the forefront, and a mild, nutty aftertaste. Overall, the honey really carries through when consumed with milk. Perhaps it may have gained something from a little more “fruitiness”, however overall I think it works well to kick things off in a morning latte.

A little surprising to me was how well the blend suited the AeroPress, and had I not been running dangerously low on filters, would have consumed a lot more through this type of brew method. Whilst remaining rich and creamy with a lovely mouthfeel, the AeroPress really brings out the stone fruit and black tea flavours which hide a little in the milk based drinks. A pleasantly robust blend, which holds up really well in this form of brewing.

Upon brewing through the Hario V60 filter, the taste profile is similar in nature to that described above with the Aeropress, however I would not necessarily say it was any better, which is not what I usually find when comparing the two. As espresso (think green apple, a little honey again), well, you can’t please everyone, and let’s just say when consuming the Fifty-K black, a longer form of brewing is probably the best option, as it is probably a little too bright to be considered a really good espresso.

In Conclusion

With another year and another festive roast blend all but complete, perhaps it is time to reflect on the year gone by, and what might lay ahead for you in 2015. Or, as is the case with me, simply enjoying a few days off with family, the cricket and a some new toys to play with, courtesy of some thoughtful gift givers.

Thankfully, no one gave me a fountain pen for Christmas. As someone who does love a good fountain pen, why would I be thankful for this? Well, there are a few reasons, and tomorrow (29 December), you can read about what those are in a guest post I wrote for one of my favourite pen blogs, On Fountain Pens. The article is one in a series of 12, which began on Christmas Day, and I’d encourage you to head over and read them – it’s a great series of posts (and yes… if I do say so myself!).

I do hope you have had a Merry Christmas, thanks for stopping by, and best wishes for the coming year.

What’s Brewing: Guatemala Don Antonio

Whilst things seem to have been all Santa Clara lately in terms of Guatemalan coffees, this offering from the Don Antonio farm in the Huehuetenango region has certainly been no less enjoyable in the cup.

There have been some fine central American varieties on offer at Ministry Grounds in recent times. The latest newsletter being no exception, containing no less than fifteen coffees, largely from El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama, with a few Cup of Excellence varieties to boot. Choosing which one or two (or few) to buy will be the next challenge.

The Region

The Huehuetenango municipality lies in the highlands west of Guatemala City, towards the Mexican border (map below courtesy Worldlink). Huehuetenango (originally called Xinabahul in the Mam language) was originally a Mayan settlement.


Many people of Mam descent still live in and around Huehuetenango, and the nearby ruins of Zaculeu have become a tourist attraction. These ruins are markedly distinct from other Mayan archeological sites; the original unearthed stones, comprising only a small portion of the original structures, were coated with plaster during restoration works carried out in the 1940s. There is also a small museum at Zaculeu which includes statues and small artifacts found on the site.


Information and Image above Courtesy Wikipedia

The Coffee

  • Coffee: Guatemala Don Antonio
  • Altitude: 1700 – 2000 mtrs
  • Crop Year: 2013
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing: Washed

The Sanchez family commenced their coffee business in 1966, with current owner Antonio (Don Antonio) taking over from his father and continuing to run the farm, located in the district of San Pedro Carcha, Huehuetenango.

Information courtesy Ministry Grounds Coffee

Brew Methods

Aeropress, Hario V60


I had originally planned on roasting this a little darker for use in the espresso machine, however the planned filter roast that day (an Ehtiopian Yirgacheffe) got away from me a little and inherited the espresso roast somewhat by default. Therefore, to avoid filter withdrawal, a lighter roast for the Don Antonio it was. I cannot say I am overly sorry, as the Yirgacheffe has made a great morning latte (good body, hint of chocolate with a nice berry finish) this past week.

As for the Guatemalan? More below.

There are times when I feel like a good, full-bodied brew. Sure, the Don Antonio is certainly not as bright nor clean as the Santa Clara was, and perhaps suits a diner mug more than a stylish glass, though for me, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Overall, through the aeropress or the V60, this is a very well-balanced, enjoyable cup of coffee.

The flavours are quite subtle, with a little caramel and brown sugar, a hint of apple, and perhaps a some stone fruit, though I could not get any more specific than that. Whilst some were no doubt downing 6-packs during the recent Australian Rules Football Grand Final over the weekend, my viewing was accompanied by a jug of Don Antonio, brewed through the Hario V60

As I have noted in the past, the Aeropress probably blunts some of those subtle flavours a little, however this coffee was a welcome daily addition to kick off the 4pm hour of power at the office through to knock-off time.

Final Thoughts

Probably the impression I have given above is that this Guatemalan Don Antonio coffee is a less than subtle variety perhaps better suited to a filer pot. That could not be further from the truth. The fact is, each and every cup brewed (with a few left to go), has been thoroughly enjoyable, and if I were given this as the only coffee I could drink for a year, I would not be disappointed, perhaps just a little uninspired – eventually.

What’s Brewing: Guatemala Santa Clara

It’s a great time to sample some superb Guatemalan coffee in Brisbane at the moment, and I have also been in on the act by roasting some myself. Cup Coffee have a Santa Clara showcase of sorts, currently offering washed, honey and fully natural processed versions for sale, many of which have also found their way into a cup or two at Strauss Café & Bar in the CBD.

On a recent order of green beans from Ministry Grounds, I picked up some of the fully washed Santa Clara to roast and brew at home.


  • Guatemala City (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

    Guatemala City (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

    Guatemala Santa Clara

  • City: Antigua
  • Altitude: 1600–1830m above sea level
  • Variety: Bourbon
  • Processing: Fully Washed and patio dried
  • Owner: Zelaya family

The farm has been managed since 1988 by Ricardo Zelaya, the 4th generation of the Zelaya family to have produced coffee at Santa Clara. The Zelaya family has been growing coffee for over 100 years and four generations. This renowned family owns farms throughout Guatemala and grows one of only a handful of genuine ‘Antigua’ coffees (coffees grown in the Antigua valley area bounded by three volcanoes – Agua, Acatenango and Fuego).

Information courtesy Ministry Grounds

While tracking down some information for this post, I also came across a brief interview with the owner of the Santa Clara Farm, Ricardo Zelaya, conducted when he visited Melbourne in 2013. He talks about managing the farm, plans for the future, and how he drinks his coffee. You can find it on the Market Lane Coffee blog.

Brew Methods

Hario V60 Filter, Aeropress, Espresso (+ Kalita Wave at Strauss Café & Bar)


As I mentioned earlier, this shade grown coffee is processed by both wet and dry methods, and if you can, it is a worthwhile endeavour to sample both.

As I have now begun roasting each coffee more specifically for espresso and filter based consumption, this and most future posts will discuss my impressions from this perspective (that is, two separate roast batches with different roast profiles). In the past, I have written on the basis of a single roast profile for all types of drinks.

As a morning latte or flat white, the Santa Clara performed really well in milk. It created a creamy, smooth drink, with a good chocolatey base, and some of the fruity flavours peeking through as well. A very, very enjoyable way to start the day. As espresso, also very enjoyable, a bright cup, with a pleasant level of acidity, medium body and a lovely creamy mouthfeel.

The filter roast performed equally well in the Aeropress and V60 Pourover, the V60 resulting in a more delicate, refined brew as expected. Both demonstrated a fresh, bright cup, again the acidity was pleasant, with enough body to make a great “winter warming” brew consumed sitting in the sun on a cool winter afternoon. This perhaps clouded my judgement of the Aeropress (consumed at my office desk), given sitting in the backyard sunshine carries an obvious environmental advantage! Again, nice fruity flavours with chocolate and citrus in both forms of brewing.

Finally, a brief mention of my thoughts on the variety of processing options on offer at Strauss Café & Bar, which were all sampled through the Kalita Wave. My pick would be the natural process, which seemed to enhance the stone fruit flavours a little more, and at times was reminiscent of a juicy grape. Not the most elegant of descriptions probably, however hopefully you get my drift. That is all I have to say on this point – remember, I do not do café reviews.

Final Thoughts

Loved it.

Probably one of the more enjoyable coffees I have roasted and brewed this year. I must admit, the cool weather of late has made it a little easier to control my roasts (given they are done outside), and with a little experimentation, I feel these have been improving over time as well. I’ll be disappointed when the last of the Santa Clara goes through the grinder, however there may be something even more enjoyable up ahead. After all, isn’t that the basis for the journey?

Rating: 4.5/5