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Notes: Raspberries, limeade, peach, malasses
Description: There’s no denying it – we’re suckers for juicy, bright, and fruit-forward coffees. So, we always look forward to new coffees from Kenya, and our first Kenya of the year, a peaberry lot from the Gicherori factory, is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.
The best Kenyan coffees are mouthwateringly complex – a combination of fruity brightness, deep sweetness, creamy mouthfeel and savory complexity that’s unmatched anywhere in the coffee-growing world. High altitudes and rich, red clay soil certainly contribute to these flavors, but Kenya’s unique tradition of excellence is also largely a story of plant varieties and meticulous processing.
Kenya’s government has taken a keen interest in not just coffee productivity, but also quality, working with Scott Laboratories from the 1930s-1960s to identify varieties based on both flavor and productivity. This work has continued to this day with work on disease-resistant plants, but some of the varieties from this initial study, SL-28 and SL-34 in particular, are considered quality gems. Additionally, Kenyan wet mills, called factories, have a unique approach to removing the fruit from the coffee seed that we eventually roast: extended double fermentation, two washes, and a post-wash soaking period before slow, raised bed drying. In simpler terms, the best Kenyan producers add a few steps to the washing process that help draw out the savory complexity that makes Kenyan coffees so unique, while also helping to create a super clean, juicy cup.
Additionally, Kenyan producers separate their coffees by bean size. AA are the largest, then AB, then C, and PB refers to the peaberries – coffee cherries that develop with one rather than the normal two seeds per cherry. Some folks will tell you that peaberries are automatically better, or on the opposite end, that AA is always the best. We won’t go there – when we cup AA, AB, and PB lots from the same producers, there’s no one grade that always lands on top. But, they do tend to taste different and roast different, so we love that separation.
This lot from Gicherori is all peaberry, and we think it’s delicious. This coffee is grown by 900 farmers from the Kibugu Farmers Cooperative Society, and washed and at that cooperative’s Gicherori factory (wet mill) on the slopes of Mt Kenya in Embu County. It’s deeply sweet with a bit of savory spice (think molasses), with loads of juicy, bright, and sweet fruit flavors. That combination of sweet, savory, and bright can be a bit much for folks who like their coffee unsurprising, but if you revel in coffee’s potential for unique flavors, Gicherori PB is probably going to be your jam. It’s our jam, and we think it tastes like raspberries, limeade, peach jam, and molasses. Weird? Maybe. Tasty? Most def.