Truth is, sweetness in coffee is the new black, honey


THE great thing about having a mind is the ability to change it.

It’s a very simplified approach to the concept; we are constantly being challenged by new ideas or new research that contradict existing beliefs. For example, Tim Noakes, who went from being an advocate of carbo loading to the champion of the low-carb lifestyle. There are lots of examples like this in the food world, with things we have been told are bad for us suddenly being acceptable, or ingredients which wax and wane in and out of vogue.

And that’s all right. Minds can change. Which is what happened at Truth Coffee Roasting.

Founder and pioneer David Donde has done an about turn when it comes to acidity in coffee with the launch of Truth’s first new blend in two years – Black Honey.

“The whole journey with luxury coffee and extraordinary coffee started with a system of beliefs in 1999 when we were all saying ‘when we have acidity, we have amazing coffee’. It’s been a story we’ve been telling ourselves for 20 years,” he says.

Donde recalls being at the Coffee Masters in New York two years ago, with other leading minds of coffee “and we’re tasting the best coffee made by the best baristas in the world and we’re all going ‘another one of those’. It was all acidity.”

He describes this moment as an epiphany: is it good coffee because of acidity or is it good coffee because it’s good coffee that happens to have acidity?

“But the stuff we love isn’t about acidity; it’s actually about sweetness and juiciness,” says Donde. With this in mind, he hurried back to South Africa to announce to his team that Black Honey was to be birthed.

“We started getting samples in and to date we’ve gone through 70 different green coffee beans,” he tells us. Fast forward and the final blend for Black Honey is half natural Ethiopian and the other half from El Salvador made with the honey process.

This is pretty geeky coffee territory, says Donde. “I never wanted it to be like that. It should be about the joy of the coffee.”

Briefly, for the nerds, the processes are about removing or not removing the fruit from the seeds, the latter process imparting more sweetness. You can Google if you want to know more.

“I’m not saying there’s no acidity in the Black Honey but it wasn’t on the radar, or the point of the coffee,” says Donde. “How far away from what we are used to and what we’re expecting will it go? It doesn’t matter. It’s about starting with a different philosophy, which is what our brand is built on.”

Frankly, it gets tiring to always have the acidity, opines Donde. “We just want balance and I’m after sweetness now, and in two years’ time I might have a very different conversation with you,” he says. “But we must change. If we are going to keep digging deeper and deeper into what the intrinsic value is we’re chasing, then we ask the right questions and moving our position.”

Be part of the coffee revolution at Truth Coffee Roasting, 36 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town. For more information, click here or call 021 200 0440.

  • This story first appeared in Saturday Live (Weekend Argus) on July 14, 2018


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