Brian Beyke

Black Oak Coffee Roasters - Ethiopia Konga

Brian Beyke
Black Oak Coffee Roasters - Ethiopia Konga

A cup of coffee is practically a religious experience for us. We revere it, we crave it and we anticipate brewing and drinking it every day. Every coffee has a story, a history of soil, people and culture that make each one special. And it’s that combination that keeps us curious to learn about and eager to experience the next cup.” - Black Oak Coffee Roasters

When I first started writing on this site, I was just a guy who wanted to record the coffees he was drinking.  Somewhere along the way people began to come alongside me and share their craft with me.  In doing so, I’ve been exposed to more regions, farms, farmers, cooperatives, stories and practices that shape the cups that I drink.  Places like Black Oak Coffee Roasters, heck, most of the coffee roasters you and I both interact with, exist to help bridge the gap between coffee producers and coffee drinkers to some degree.  I’m always thankful for those roasters who see the importance of that, and from the last three write-ups we can see Black Oak keeps an eye to detail in their craft, and how they connect with the community as well.  Also, I want to say thanks to Black Oak for sending me this offerings to not only check out the selections, but to experience them and their roasting.  Closing out the Black Oak selections we will be sharing together, let’s take a look at the natural processed Konga, Natural.  

Wote Konga is an area within Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia.  Konga is about four kilometers south of the town of Yirga Cheffe and nearby both Harfusa and Biloya.  One of the great things about Ethiopian coffees is the complete mix of varietals.  It is estimated that somewhere between six thousand and ten thousand varietals exist naturally in these highlands, the origin of coffee.  To make this coffee, 600 small-hold farmers, including many members of the respected Worka Cooperative, carefully select only the ripest coffee cherries and dry them on raised beds.  Afterward, it is carefully sorted, keeping only the best beans in the lot. This extra care is what makes this coffee so remarkably clean and uniform in the cup.


Roaster: Black Oak Coffee Roasters

Region:  Konga, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Farm: Smallholder farmers

Process: Natural

Varietal: Heirloom

Elevation: 1,900 - 2,200m

Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 240g (w) | 2:00 then plunge by 2:30 total time | 199 degrees | 1.35 TDS | 20.15% Ext. (Immersion mode) (preferred method)

The cup opens up rather bright- saturated with lemon, orange zest, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and mango right away, then finishing nicely with caramel syrupiness and drying cocoa notes.  

After some time it still stays rather bright on the palate, one of the brightest naturals I’ve come across, with more passion fruit, raspberry, apricot, pear, and blackberry coming out, drying the finish and ending a bit astringent too.  While it is fruit forward, there is a quality to the fruit that comes off a bit clean, sort of like jolly rancher candies, only maybe more of the green apple ones in there (because of how aggressive it seems to be in the acidity).  It carries lingering notes of apricot and peach jam.

Okay… I’m starting to see this coffee needed to rest even more before diving in.

Even cooler it still is berry forward, but less intense.  At first I get strawberry and creamy, then it moves to blueberry denseness, quickly shifting again to a more prickly blackberry with a squeeze of lime, and finally ends on a raspberry and watermelon lemonade note, clean, rich, and lined with caramel and cocoa in the finish with apricot, watermelon, peach, and in the final sips mint still lingering.


Brew Method:

Chemex | 29.8 © to 483g (w) | 3:15 total time | 201 degrees | 1.24 TDS | 18.60% Ext.

Sweet, crisp, berry aromas.

Really winey, cleanly fermented, lush, and bittersweet intro.  Both prickly and sweet fruit notes with chocolate finishing.  Berry is forward, with a drying finish.  It isn’t as bright as the previous make was, but definitely has some brightness on the front end.

Blueberry, blackberry, banana smoothie is what comes to mind, as it carries a weighty and dense body, with trails of cinnamon tickling in the finish.  One might even picture a bowl of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries with a dollop of crème fraîche, yet there is also a clean and slightly rindy note that specifically makes me think of honeydew.

Purple and pink flavors come to mind, tightly wrapped around the forward berry flavors and dusted with cocoa sip after sip.  As it opens further, strawberry and blueberry pop-tart arrives with some lemon cleansing in the finish, and even some caramel, malt, nougat-like sweetness lingering on.

Final sips are the brightest, sparkling berry and plush lingering, weighty dessert-like sweetness.


Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:00 total time | 200 degrees | 1.36 TDS | 20.45% Ext.

Aroma is crisp and fragrant, with sweet berries, floral, and confectioners sugar.

The nose of the cup is even a bit tropical.

The first sips are plush, creamy and sweet like a strawberry milkshake, with notes in the finish like clove spice, melted milk chocolate, and tingly berry.  

To be honest, the age and preparation of this coffee together are quiet a welcomed approach.  I for one am a clove fan, so the fact that it stays in the cup as it cools is a really fascinating thing.  There is a sweetness to the cup that tastes like a bowl of frosted flakes- a bit sogged with milk (cream), and even releasing flavors of peach cobbler, chocolate scone, and slurps revealing mango and passion fruit.  The interaction of passion fruit and clove specifically is what I find the most mesmerizing in the cup.


To be honest, all the methods seemed to approach this coffee a bit differently, and show different sides to the coffee as a whole.  I’m always a bit thrilled when this happens, as it makes each individual brew a new experience to the coffee when looking back at the entire picture.  This natural had a lot of similarities on the front end to other naturals one may come across, but some of its intricacies that were revealed through the brewing were all its own.  While the Aeropress was probably my favorite make overall, the V60 make after some age on it definitely opened to some really interesting personality traits.  It just goes to show you that there is so much intricacy waiting to be tapped into.  

I’m so thankful to have been able to share alongside of Black Oak Coffee Roasters these last few brews.  They are starting to roll out some new offerings as well, so if you liked anything you read in these last few write-ups, go check them out, order some beans, and let me know what intricacies you unlock.  

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.