THIS COFFEE HAS SOLD OUT. Tano Ndogo is quite sweet in light to middle roasting, with silky body, and muted fruit notes resonate in the finish. Dried blueberry covered in dark chocolate, cinnamon stick, Concord grapes, and more. City to Full City. Good for espresso.
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The coffee factory, Tano Ndogo, is a newly formed farmer alliance in the Gitwe settlement of Kiambu County. Kiambu lies near the foothills of Gatamaiyo Forest Reserve, and at the border of neighboring Muranga County. I'm referring to this group as an "alliance" because there are only five members ("Tano Ndogo" means the "small five" in Swahili), and so each farmer plays a large role in the group's success, whereas most other stations serve hundreds and even thousands of farmers. Between the five there are around 10 hectares of coffee in production. It's worth noting that each of the members entered their coffees into the 2017 Taste of Harvest Competition separately, and one placed 5th overall. AB refers to the bean size, this being 15 - 17 screen, measured in 1/64th of an inch.
We wound up tasting quite a few different roast levels of Tano Ndogo, partly intentional as I thought it would show well at 2nd snaps based on an earlier cup assessment of a light roast, and partly because I accidentally set the heat too high to begin with, resulting in a really fast, four-minute City roast. That said, I was impressed by the cup, showing a decent level of raw sugar sweetness, albeit with a slight grassy note from being on the raw side internally, and with a dehydrated berry flavor that reminded me of berry Kool Aid powder. Impressive indeed, and I felt like I caught a glimpse of how this coffee will show in a hot air popper, where roast times tend to be fast (< 5 min). And while roast evenness may be compromised, you won't feel like you're missing a thing with cup complexity if you keep it on the lighter side of the roast spectrum. Now back to my other roasts. At City/City+, Tano Ndogo boasts a dark blueberry flavor, somewhat muted in volume, but resonant nonetheless. A subtle cinnamon note permeates in the finish, as does a flavor of Concord grape. Chocolatey flavors come up with a shade more development, and Full City roasts bear resemblance to dried blueberry covered in dark chocolate. Circling back to the beginning of the review, I thought based off of the mild acidity, body, and chocolatey goodness found in middle roasts that Tano Ndogo would be a good candidate for really dark roasting ala 2nd snaps. I was wrong. At Full City+ the coffee loses most if not all of the fruited sweetness found in lighter roasts, and a bittering ashy flavor dominates. Full City? Yes. Espresso? Yes. Just don't get too close to 2nd snaps unless you enjoy charcoal in your morning cup!