In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, coffee children. Welcome to the table, here in the corner of my harmony garden. Here, brothers and sisters, coffee is not sipped nor slurped – it is transported to our bellies cosmically, rolling on the waves peace, love, and good vibrations.
Just kidding – it is both sipped and slurped. How else would we taste it?
Well, my brothers and sisters in the bean, we have nearly approached April’s halfway point, which can only mean it’s time to review Dark Matter Coffee Company‘s current blend of the month. This month, in celebration of April showers, Springtime gardens, and a certain righteously groovy plant, Dark Matter offers us The Devil’s Lettuce.
Ready to let your freak flag fly? Feel free to pull up a beanbag chair. Or toadstool.
Not too long after Jesse Diaz founded Dark Matter Coffee Company and Star Lounge Coffee Bar, he formed a band, with some coworkers and cafe regulars, called Wild Jesus and the Devil’s Lettuce – intergalactic purveyors of rock and roll rooted in funk, blues, soul, and heavily steeped in 1960’s psychedelia.
That is, of course, what this coffee is named for.
Being inspired by a review of Sumatran coffee he read several years ago, in which the writer likened the coffee’s aroma and flavor to tea, grass, and marijuana, Jesse decided April would be the perfect month to create a blend that is reminiscent of – there’s no other way to phrase it – the ganja. To match that description, Dark Matter had to carefully select the regions they were going to blend and the profile they were going to roast to. Of course, what two better regions could match the terms “grass, herb, Earthy, soily, floral, and aromatic” better than Africa’s Burundi region, and Indonesia’s Sumatra region?
Then, to get the exact right aroma and flavor, the roasters had to hit just the right profile: roasting too dark would create the desired smoky affect, but probably make you lose the desired floral and herbal notes; roasting too light would give you the floral and herbal notes, but would definitely make you lose the smokiness and earthiness. Fortunately, this is exactly the sort of task in which Jesse and Company excel.
Origins: Sumatra // Burundi
Welp. This coffee definitely has some kind of aroma to it. I think they accomplished what they were going for – it’s definitely grassy, herbal, and floral. I’m getting notes freshly cut grass, cloves, juniper, and a very smell dash of a lemon zest that tingles the nose.
Diving into the taste now, annndddd…. Okay. Well. This is interesting too.
The Devil’s Lettuce has a really bizarre, almost “barnyard” flavor to it. I wouldn’t expect many people outside of the Midwest to understand what I mean by this, but do you know the way a barnyard or farm smells? (And I’m not even talking about animals here – just in terms of vegetation.) That’s what this coffee tastes like. The grass, the earthiness, the soil, the vegetables, the mustiness from the sun beating down on the damp soil and the wet barn after a rainfall – all of those elements are contained herein. As the cup cools down, it only gets more herbal and vegetal – cloves and tobacco are the major flavors, but I’m also picking up nuances of black pepper, radish, and, yes – lettuce. At room temperature, the vegetable flavor disappears and is replaced by something more fruity. At the tail end of every sip, I get just a hint of strawberry sweetness and lemon acidity.
Full, earthy body; low acidity; dry finish.
the bottom line:
The folks at Dark Matter Coffee Company… They’re a strange bunch of cats. This blend only goes to serve as proof of that. The Devil’s Lettuce is described by them as a “[full-bodied with coffee with floral aromatics from the garden of the Devil, himself].” I couldn’t agree more. I’m sure they didn’t intend the title of the blend to be interpreted this way, but when I think of the idea of the devil, I think about the balance between good and evil, where, when dealing with the devil, the lines between the two are a bit blurry. For me, the line between “good” and “bad” was blurred by this coffee. Because as weird and funky as this coffee tasted, it was shockingly drinkable.
With every sip, I actually grimaced a little – not because it tasted bad, but just because my palate isn’t accustomed to such unique flavors. However, I also finished my cup in about ten minutes (which is remarkably fast for me). So there’s that line between good and evil, between black and white, between temptation and revulsion: is this a coffee to avoid because it’s weird?, or is it a coffee to buy because it’s drinkable and even enjoyable?
The devil’s on one shoulder and an angel’s on the left, so allow me to be the Voice of Reason: this coffee is an incredibly unique, complex cup that may not be for the faint of heart or spirit. Seasoned coffee veterans will be challenged and perplexed by this coffee’s outdoorsy qualities, but the everyday consumer should proceed with caution – this lettuce does come from the Devil’s garden after all.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.