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Kenya

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Kenya Nyeri Tegu AB

Tegu is a coffee washing station, a wet mill, a coffee factory. Well, it's all three. A "factory" is a wet mill where the coop members bring coffee cherry for pulping, fermenting, washing, drying. It's not the factory as we might imagine it. Small washing stations are aligned with a particular "society" which is what they call a cooperative in Kenya. Tegu is part of Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS), which combines the names for their 3 factories: Tegu, Karagoto and Ngunguru. I visited them several times, since we have bought many small lots over time from Tekangu. While most of the lots this year grade out as the smaller AB preparation, this is unrelated to cup quality, which can be better in AB grade than AA in some cases. The quality control at the Tegu mill is impressive. What I saw was excellent sorting of cherry at the mill by each picker, before they submit the coffee to be processed. Over-ripe and immature cherries are culled out. They also have a system where pickers are graded as A or B. "A" pickers are those who have been proven to deliver well-selected and sorted cherry, and they are invited to submit coffee on the "A" day, when a higher price is paid. "B" pickers are still yet-to-be-proven, or have had more immature beans and over-matures in their bags. They must come on the lowly "B" day and are paid less. Maybe it seems harsh, but there is no better way I have seen to create an incentive for quality harvesting, rather than mindless strip-picking of the coffee tree. (By the way, this A and B picker system has nothing to do with the AA or AB grade, that refers to screen size of the coffee at the dry mill only. AA, AB and PB all comes from the exact same lot submitted to the dry mill, and is separated only by the coffee size screening equipment).

This review is for the third arrival of Tegu from the current crop, which was shipped in vacuum packs. The dry fragrance is malty, caramelly, with an almond hint. The darker roasts have increasingly potent brown sugar note on the grounds. The wet aroma has a touch of hop flower in the light roast, but wine-like black currant and raisin in darker roasts and on the break. At FC the break is caramel with just a hint of rindy sharpness hiding in the back. The cup has a fruited character: currant, cherries with a hard-candy sweetness in the finish. Let this coffee rest after roasting! I really can't state enough what even one more extra day of rest does for this coffee, the winey and jammy acidity is fully integrated into the syrupy body and there's more complexity to the sweetness, with caramel and vanilla present at FC. Dark berry notes that weren't present at 12 hours of rest really emerged at 24 hours rest, and were even more intense at 48 hours. At the right roast, the mouthfeel has this interesting "fatty" confectionery quality, but this could be an effect of the flavors. C+ is where I got this coffee to sing for me, the body is nice and the melon is intense with a muscovado sugar... so sweet. This is not the most citric or acidic Kenya, and some will find it less compelling as such. I think the balance, body and depth are welcome qualities.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Grace, Manager of Tegu factory, Nyeri.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: 2011 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / fruit notes, body, nice sweetness
Roast: City+ is nice for this Tegu coffee, and I enjoy the darker fruit tones and balance of Full City too.
Compare to: A layered Kenya coffee, sweet and fruited, without moderate acidity (for a Kenya)
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Kenya AB Ngunguru

Ngunguru is one of three "factories" that form the Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society. A factory is a wet mill in Kenya that serves a particular micro-region. Ngunguru is interesting in that it brings has member farmers from both the Mt. Kenya slope and the Aberdare zone: It serves farmers of Thiu sub-location in Kirimukuyu in with the Aberdare on one side and Mt. Kenya on the other. It's a beautiful location, averaging 1700 meters, and the wildlife list I have for the vicinity lists snakes, deer, hare, weaverbirds, owl and hawks. I'll have to look for a weaverbird next time I am there! Tekangu is a really nice coop, with Tegu and Karagoto being the other 2 factories, and often nice coffees as well. The AB indicates bean size and not a quality grade. Ab coffees can get looked over very frequently because of the common misconception that it's a grade indication, but many of the most exciting coffee from Kenya that I've had have been AB's!

I've always tried to figure out exactly what made up the classic bubblegum gum flavor, It seems to me like it's a cross between cherry and mango, and of course tons of sugar. On the dry grounds of this AB coffee from Ngunguru factory there's a potent classic bubblegum fragrance, very sweet and very much cherry and mango. On the wet aroma these notes intensify, showing a little more floral character with the mango on the break. The warm cup is juicy black cherry and a clear satin body. There's the mango and a pungent, floral fruit, like guava with some clove in the warm Full City cup. At City roast there's an intense cran-raspberry juice character as it cools, a syrupy finish with a bit of snappy dryness just at the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is folded satin, layered but very clean and silky. There's an intense and sustained brightness, yet it's a very well balanced and sweet cup. CES- 93



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Country: Kenya
Grade:
Region: Mathira, Karatina, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2011 Arrival - Vac Pack
Appearance:
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast:
Compare to:
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Kenya Nyeri Ngunguru

Ngunguru is one of three "factories" that form the Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society. A factory is a wet mill in Kenya that serves a particular micro-region. Ngunguru is interesting in that it has member farmers from both the Mt. Kenya slope and the Aberdare zone. It serves farmers of the sub-location in Kirimukuyu with the Aberdare on one side and Mt. Kenya on the other. It's a beautiful location, averaging 1700 meters or more, and the wildlife list I have for the area lists snakes, deer, hare, weaverbirds, owl and hawks. I'll have to look for a weaverbird next time I am there. Tekangu is a really nice coop, with Tegu and Karagoto being the other 2 factories, and often nice coffees as well. The AB indicates bean size of 15-17 and not a quality grade. (15-17 refers to 64ths of an inch in size, so 15 means 15/64ths). AB coffees can get looked over because of the misconception that it's a grade indication, but many of the most exciting coffee from Kenya that I've had have been AB grade. This lot arrived in July and has been in undisturbed hermetic vacuum packs to preserve cup quality.

Tom and Chris cupped this coffee separately and rated it very high. Chris wrote, "I've always tried to figure out exactly what made up the classic bubblegum gum flavor, It seems to me like it's a cross between cherry and mango, and of course tons of sugar. On the dry grounds of this AB coffee from Ngunguru factory there's a potent classic bubblegum fragrance, very sweet and very much cherry and mango". Tom found it amazingly sweet in a different way, very candy-like, melon and peach. On the wet aroma these notes intensify, showing a more floral and vanilla character, and similar fruit candy notes on the break. The warm cup has juicy black cherry quality and a clear, satiny body. There's the mango and a floral fruit note with spice accent, guava with some clove in the warm Full City cup. At City roast there's an intense cranberry-raspberry juice character as it cools, a syrupy finish with a bit of snappy dryness just at the aftertaste. City+ seems to represent the best of this coffee, and a more tartaric, flame grape note present at this level, cooling to a flowery tropical fruit sweetness. The mouthfeel is folded satin, layered but very clean and silky. There's an intense and sustained brightness, yet it's a very well balanced with body and sweetness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Coffee on the raised beds at Ngunguru
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Grade
Region: Mathira, Karatina, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2011 Arrival - Vac Pack
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Sweetly fruited cup, pronounced acidic brightness
Roast: City+ roast level is ideal to underscore the lively brightness of the cup and layered fruit complexity.
Compare to: A Gran Cru Kenya, intensely bright, sweet, clean and fruited
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Kenya Nyeri Hill Estate Peaberry

Nyeri Hill Farm is unique. It has one of the highest elevations in the Nyeri area, ranging from 1800 meters above sea level at the lowest point with the highest point at 2200 meters. It is also a rare estate coffee from Nyeri, not a cooperative, with 334 hectares of coffee and 255 employees. And most interesting, the owner is the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri. Yes, a Catholic coffee farm. It is one of the first coffee farms in all of East Africa, originally planted in 1914. The mill was built in 1934, originally used by the Consolata Fathers to process and export coffee back to their native Italy. The Italian Memorial Church on the farm is a regional landmark. The original mill is still fully functional, and processing is still done by traditional methods.

There's a punch in the nose from the potent dry fragrance, pineapple at City roast with almost a mustard seed bite right at the end of it. At City+ the dry has more orange citrus and some more floral. It's definitely more floral forward on the wet aroma at City, with some of the punch mellowed out. The break has white grapefruit at City, with the pineapple more prominent at City+. The warm cup has grapefruit and bergamot citrus notes, and is super floral especially at City. The finish in the City+ roast has just a touch of mild cinnamon spice. There's a very creamy mouthfeel throughout, which at City+ is most perfectly balanced with the pineapple and mild spice notes in the finish. If your tastes in coffee are catholic with a small "c", this is your cup. Pun intended.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The Italian Memorial Church at the farm, which is owned by the Catholic Church.
Country: Kenya
Grade: Peaberry
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2011 Arrival - Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15+ Peaberry Screen
Varietal: SL-28, Ruiru 11, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / Potent brightness, fruited notes, spice.
Roast: City to City+ roast levels are ideal
Compare to: Bracing and bright Kenya flavor profile
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Kenya Nyeri Peaberry - Kirimara Estate

The Kirimara Estate is located 12 kilometers from Nyeri Town at the foot of Mt. Kenya set between the Chania and Muriggato Rivers. Nyeri is an ideal coffee growing area, renowned for its high quality production due to the good volcanic soils and conducive climate. The complexity and brightness in the cup can be partly attributed to cool temperatures during the main crop expansion, coupled with rich volcanic soils. The estate was established in the 1920's by european settlers, but has changed hands many times from owners with colorful nicknames like; Mongoose (KAIHU), Laughter (MUTHEKI), and Beads (NYACIUMA) named so because of freckles. The farm is currently owned by Mutanga Investments Company Ltd, which is a family property of the late Engineer Julius Mimano who was Kenya�s first African mechanical engineer and a pivotal figure in the Kenyan railroad. After being dried on raised shadenet tables at Kirimara, the coffee is moved to the Socfinaf Coffee Mill in Ruiru where it is milled and graded. With this year's small crop and many people looking for powerhouse Kenyan coffees, prices are high but we pursued the coffees that delivered on the promises of complexity and exotic flavors in the cup. This peaberry offering delivers on both of those promises. You definitely want to pay close attention to the roast and allow it to develop enough past the finish of first crack (around 30-45 seconds) in order to bring out the cider and pineapple sweetness, but make sure that you set it up so that you don't rush into the beginning of second crack. Also, like many Kenyas, an extra day of rest out of the roaster makes a big difference in the cup.

This coffee really, really benefits from one extra day of rest out of the roaster. The pungency settles a bit and the sweetness is more pronounced, but it still has a bright nose on the dry fragrance. Sweet plum and green grape notes are abundant in the cup. It's not a bright sparkling cup, but full bodied with unfiltered cider flavors and character in the long sweet finish. There's a bit of a lemongrass note with some citrusy hop flavors as well as wild flower in the cool cup, but they're in balance with the glowing tangerine internalized acidity with a sweet and just slightly tangy pineapple. The finish has a floral clove that has an oaky note to it, a bit like a chardonnay, which describes the City+ roast of this coffee really well. This is a complex but balanced Kenya that was best at City+, I would not go as deep as FC where there's a malted chocolate and caramel sweetness yet not as much floral and citrus. This coffee needs just the right development. Don't let it rush through first crack too fast, and please give it an extra day of rest!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The raised beds for solar drying at Kirimara
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Tangerine acidity and slightly tangy pineapple. Complex but balanced with a floral clove finish.
Roast: City+ is ideal, try to ease it through first crack and definitely benefits from an extra day of rest.
Compare to: Full bodied Kenya coffee, with complexity and balance.
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Kenya Nyeri Tegu June 2011

Tegu is a coffee washing station, a wet mill, a coffee factory. Well, it's all three. A "factory" is a wet mill where the coop members bring coffee cherry for pulping, fermenting, washing, drying. It's not the factory as we might imagine it. Small washing stations are aligned with a particular "society" which is what they call a cooperative in Kenya. Tegu is part of Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS), which combines the names for their 3 factories: Tegu, Karagoto and Ngunguru. I visited them several times, since we have bought many small lots over time from Tekangu. While most of the lots this year grade out as the smaller AB preparation, this is unrelated to cup quality, which can be better in AB grade than AA in some cases. The quality control at the Tegu mill is impressive. What I saw was excellent sorting of cherry at the mill by each picker, before they submit the coffee to be processed. Over-ripe and immature cherries are culled out. They also have a system where pickers are graded as A or B. "A" pickers are those who have been proven to deliver well-selected and sorted cherry, and they are invited to submit coffee on the "A" day, when a higher price is paid. "B" pickers are still yet-to-be-proven, or have had more immature beans and over-matures in their bags. They must come on the lowly "B" day and are paid less. Maybe it seems harsh, but there is no better way I have seen to create an incentive for quality harvesting, rather than mindless strip-picking of the coffee tree. (By the way, this A and B picker system has nothing to do with the AA or AB grade, that refers to screen size of the coffee at the dry mill only. AA, AB and PB all comes from the exact same lot submitted to the dry mill, and is separated only by the coffee size screening equipment).

This review is for the second arrival of Tegu from the current crop, which was shipped in vacuum packs. The dry fragrance is malty, with an almond essence. The darker roasts have increasingly potent brown sugar note on the grounds. The wet aroma has hop flower in the light roast, but wine-like black currant in darker roasts and on the break. At FC the break is caramel with just a hint of rindy sharpness hiding in the back. The cup is a complex fruited character: currant, melon, ripe cherries with a hard-candy sweetness in the finish. I really can't state enough what even one more extra day of rest does for this coffee, the winey and jammy acidity is fully integrated into the syrupy body and there's more complexity to the sweetness, with caramel and vanilla present at FC. Dark berry notes that weren't present at 12 hours of rest really emerged at 24 hours rest, and were even more intense at 48 hours. At the right roast, the mouthfeel has this interesting "fatty" confectionery quality, but this could be an effect of the flavors. C+ is where I got this coffee to sing for me, the body is nice and the melon is intense with a muscovado sugar... so sweet. This is not the most citric or acidic Kenya, and some will find it less compelling as such. I think the balance, body and depth are welcome qualities.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Sorting coffee cherry for ripeness at Tegu factory, Nyeri.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Complex fruit notes, body, outstanding sweetness
Roast: City+ is nice for this Tegu coffee, and I enjoy the darker fruit tones and balance of Full City too.
Compare to: Complex and layered Kenya coffee, sweet and fruited, without too much acidity.
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Kenya Nyeri Kagumo-ini

Kagumo-ini is a "factory" (a coffee mill) that is part of the Mugaga Farmer's Cooperative Society. It's near Karatina town in Mathira, Nyeri with average farms in the area at 1600 meter altitude, red volcanic loam soils (typical for the area), and other crops including tea, corn, and bananas. It's a typical cooperative in those respects, but the quality of coffee produced at this mill has been very high season after season. We have offered a Kagumo-ini lot many times in the past, as well as other Mugaga coffees: Kiamabara, Keini, Gatina and Gathugu. I have visited there twice, and was impressed with the Mugaga coop organization and the processing practices at Kagumo-ini as well. As with other good coops in Nyeri, they always have the farmer separate the ripeness of the coffee cherry before submitting it for processing, removing under-ripes that create astringency in the cup. Small things like this make a huge difference in the resulting coffee.

The dry fragrance has caramel and vanilla sweetness, like a ice cream parfait! There is also a violet floral scent in the dry ground coffee, and this comes through clearly in the wet aroma as well. There is also apple-like brightness, hints of citrus and peach. The cup is so sweet and juicy. At slightly different roast levels in the middle of the spectrum, and at different points in tasting, their seems to be clear red apple notes, then pear juice, then peach nectar. While it should resolve to one or the other of these, it just attests to the layers of clean fruit sweetness: Maybe I will just say "fruit salad" and leave it at that. There is certainly a squirt of orangey citrus to liven up the cup, and light brown sugar caramelized notes. It fades to a slightly rindy finish as it cools. This is a coffee that really opens up as it cools, and the longer you hold it on your palate, and circulate it around, the more you get out of it. On a lark, I tossed my darkest roast (only about FC) in the espresso machine, and pulled a pretty remarkable shot, with seemingly endless aftertaste that alternated between citrus fruits and malic brightness. Very interesting indeed.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Kenya - Patrick Kilomo, manager of Kagumo-ini Factory.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Lot
Region: Nyeri District, Mathira Division
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2011 Arrival Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Sweet, fruited aromatics, clean layers of fruit in the cup
Roast: City+ roast to Full City is ideal for Kagumo-ini.
Compare to: Not one of those twist-off-your-tongue Kenyas, but complex too, with layers of fruit. FC roast actually makes interesting SO espresso
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Kenya Murang'a AA Kangunu

Kangunu Farmers Cooperative Society is located about 140 km North West of Nairobi in Murang'a North district of the Central Province. I had bought this coffee in the past, but we don't often focus on Murang'a lots because they are often a bit less dynamic in the cup than Nyeri region coffees. But the Murang'a area is a rich agricultural oasis on the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains. Kangunu is at 1740 meters, endowed with rich volcanic soils that are deep, well drained and have much organic material; perfect for coffee. This was an outstanding coffee from last years crop, so we were hoping to find a great Kangunu again for 2011. In blind cupping, we did. This coffee was bought outside the auction, via the direct trade mechanism in Kenya, called oddly the "Second Window" because in fact it allows one to pull a coffee from the auction listings and buy it first! With this, you can negotiate a price with the coop that they are sure is better than anything possible in the auction. This purchase offers a direct reward to the cooperative for producing a great lot, and incentive to do it again, which we have 2 years running.

The fragrance from the dry grounds is boldly potent, with a strong cane sugar syrupy sweetness and berry-plum fruit notes. Adding hot water, the wet aroma has fruit juice character, caramel-vanilla extracts, Pannetone sweet bread, raisin, blackberry and that same bold sweetness. This coffee was pretty at every roast level I laid on it. Perhaps the lightest roast, a "cupping roast" that was light City level, was a bit grainy and tannic, but still had well-developed citric notes. At City+ to FC the berry and black currant fruit notes kick in. The cup has malt syrup sweetness in the lighter roasts, with caramel and chocolate roast hints in balance. As it cools there are sweet honey notes with floral violet accents. It's not all fruits and flowers, there is something aggressive about this cup too, suggested by the sweet tobacco aroma and rindy effect in the finish. Along with the marked brightness, this interesting finish elevates this to the level of a "tongue-twisting Kenya", a very complex and big coffee on the palate.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Caring for trees, a Kangunu coop member.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Direct Purchase
Region: Murang'a District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen
Varietal: SL-28, and SL-34, some Ruiru 11
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Extremely sweet, heavily fruited, bright, aggressive.
Roast: City to Full City roast
Compare to: Intense, bright and sweet as well. An intense Kenya
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Kenya Kirinyaga AA Kiunyu

Kiunyu is one of two coffee "factories" of the Karithathi Farmer Cooperative Society in Kianyaga town, Kirinyaga district of the Kenya highlands. A factory is a wet mill in Kenya vernacular, where to cooperative farmers bring their coffee cherry fruit for processing. The fact is, in blind cupping we found that both of the Karithathi coops, Kiunyu and the other one, Kabingara, were just excellent this year. Kiunyu is situated at 1644 meters, and serves farmers in the villages of Kianduma, Kiambuku, Kiambatha, Gature and Kiamuki. Its membership currently stands at 1100, making it one of the larger coops in the area, quite near the protected forests of Mount Kenya. The region has deep, fertile well drained red volcanic soils which are ideal for coffee production. The farms in the area are planted with the SL-34 Kenya Bourbon varietal. It was a very competitive year in the Kenya auctions, and the prices reflected the high demand for a much smaller than average harvest. We found many great coffees from the Kirinyaga district, and were pretty excited with the quality of this lot from Kiunyu.

The fragrance from the dry grounds have a delicate sweetness, pear juice, sweet flame grape and malt syrup in the lighter roasts, and darker caramel notes as the roast approaches Full City. Adding the hot water, the wet aromatics have a restrained fruit sweetness, shifting toward green grape in the light roast and ginger cookie as the roast level darkens. The cup is very refined and perhaps less intense overall than some Kenyas. But what it lacks in heft, it makes up in it's singular refinement. Articulate citrus brightness, delicately lemon-like, make way for a more tartaric grape note as the cup cools off slightly. City+ roast is brilliant. A fine maple syrupy mouthfeel and sweetness are primary to the cup, and provide a great sweet backdrop to the bright notes. The aftertaste seems shorter when the cup is hot, but lengthens considerably as it cools, while the brightness intensifies toward pink grapefruit character. With the right roast the cup shimmers; I feel it is a matter of developing the sweetness in the coffee during roast as a counterpoint to this wonderful and refined acidity, without overdoing it with roast taste.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Not to be confused with Cherry Hopper 3.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / A complex cup, with layers of fruit, sweetness
Roast: City+ roast is ideal to balance the brightness with a good roast sweetness.
Compare to: A refined Kenya that has brilliant acidic brightness
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Kenya Kirinyaga AA Kabingara

Some details about this coffee: Kibingara coffee factory is located in Kirinyaga District in near Kerugoya town. A coffee factory is a wet-processing mill where the coop member-farmers bring their coffee cherry for processing. Kabingara is part of the Karithathi Farmers Cooperative Society and its membership currently stands at 800. The coffee farmers come from the villages Kamwana, Gatumbi, Kithama and Kathaka Villages. The mill is at 1684 meters and it’s located near the forested areas of Mount Kenya. An interesting aspect of this lot is that it is comprised almost entirely of the SL-34 Kenya Bourbon cultivar, whereas many other great Nyeri coffees are based on SL-28. What does that mean? These are the two best cultivars in Kenya, and some say SL-34 is less citric than 28. It seems true to some extent with this cup, as it is a more refined and balanced coffee than some of the Nyeri region screamers. It was a very competitive year in the Kenya auctions, and the prices reflected the high demand for a much smaller than average harvest. We found many great coffees from the Kirinyaga district, and were pretty excited with the qualities this year despite the small harvest and record-high prices.

Caramel and graham cracker sweetness are the main theme of the dry fragrance, as well as butterscotch notes at City+ roast. The wet aroma is really beautiful, a bounty of hop flower buds and sweet brown ale scents. On the break there is a nice black currant and berry note. The lightest roasts are a bit tart in the cup, with bracing grape skin notes, but I must admit I really like this roast treatment, especially while the cup is hot. There is sweet orange and orange peel that strikes the front of the palate, while a rather refined sweetness (white sugar) sweetens the finish. Darker roasts really do well as the cup cools. At Full City there is a compelling balance of sweet-bittersweet roast taste, modulating between dark brown sugar and tangy burnt caramel. Concord grape sweetness lurks in the finish of these heavier roast levels. I find this cup very drinkable, and also very complex. I seem to get a new take on the flavor with each sip.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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It's tough finding great sweaters in Kenya. Newton, Kabingara manager.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA
Region: Ngariama, Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A complex cup, with layers of fruit, complex sweetness
Roast: City to Full City+. This works through a wide range of roasts.
Compare to: An intense Kenya that has a complex layered cup.
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Kenya Nyeri Tegu AB 2011

Tegu is a coffee washing station, a wet mill, a coffee factory. Well, it's all three. A "factory" is a wet mill where the coop members bring coffee cherry for pulping, fermenting, washing, drying. It's not the factory as we might imagine it. Small washing stations are aligned with a particular "society" which is what they call a cooperative in Kenya. Tegu is part of Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS), which combines the names for their 3 factories: Tegu, Karagoto and Ngunguru. I visited them several times, since we have bought many small lots over time from Tekangu. While most of the lots this year grade out as the smaller AB preparation, this is unrelated to cup quality, which can be better in AB grade than AA in some cases. The quality control at the Tegu mill is impressive. What I saw was excellent sorting of cherry at the mill by each picker, before they submit the coffee to be processed. Over-ripe and immature cherries are culled out. They also have a system where pickers are graded as A or B. "A" pickers are those who have been proven to deliver well-selected and sorted cherry, and they are invited to submit coffee on the "A" day, when a higher price is paid. "B" pickers are still yet-to-be-proven, or have had more immature beans and over-matures in their bags. They must come on the lowly "B" day and are paid less. Maybe it seems harsh, but there is no better way I have seen to create an incentive for quality harvesting, rather than mindless strip-picking of the coffee tree. (By the way, this A and B picker system has nothing to do with the AA or AB grade, that refers to screen size of the coffee at the dry mill only. AA, AB and PB all comes from the exact same lot submitted to the dry mill, and is separated only by the coffee size screening equipment).

The dry fragrance is sweet with vanilla, almond essence, and floral elements. The darker roasts have increasingly potent brown sugar and plum note on the grounds. The wet aroma has hope flower in the light roast, but winey black currant in darker roasts and on the break. At FC the break is caramel with just a hint of rindy sharpness hiding in the back. The cup is a punch bowl full of currant, cranberry, melon, ripe cherries with a hard-candy sweetness in the finish. I really can't state enough what even one more extra day of rest does for this coffee, the winey and jammy acidity is fully integrated into the syrupy body and there's more complexity to the sweetness, with caramel and vanilla present at FC. Dark berry notes that weren't present at 12 hours of rest really emerged at 24 hours rest, and were even more intense at 48 hours. At the right roast, the mouthfeel has this interesting "fatty" confectionery quality, but this could be an effect of the flavors. C+ is where I got this coffee to sing for me, the body is nice and the melon is intense with a muscovado sugar... so sweet. This is not the most citric or acidic Kenya, and some will find it less compelling as such. I think the balance, body and depth are welcome qualities.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Showing proper respect for the coffee on the drying beds. At Tegu.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2011 Arrival GrainPro
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Complex fruit notes, body, outstanding sweetness
Roast: City+ is nice for this Tegu coffee, and I enjoy the darker fruit tones and balance of Full City too.
Compare to: Complex and layered Kenya coffee, sweet and fruited, without too much acidity.
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Kenya Nyeri Ichamara Peaberry

Ichamara is one of five "factories" that form the Gikaru Farmers Cooperative Society. A factory is a wet mill in Kenya that serves a particular micro-region. Gikaru is interesting in that it is located farther to the south than where most of our Kenya coffees from Nyeri district originate. The cooperative offices are in Mukurwe-ini and Ichamara a bit north and east of there. It is not far from Ngunguru, where we used to get great lots as well. This was one of my absolute favorite Kenya lots of the season, and I admit that we sat on it a while to save it for the holidays. Vacuum packing allows us to do this while maintaining the freshness of the green coffee.

This coffee is abundantly sweet, bright, and complex. The dry fragrance has cane sugar, raw honey, vanilla, and lavender floral elements. Their is a hint of buttermilk cream in the wet aromatic, along with caramel-vanilla, peach blossom and wildflowers. The cup is very lively with bright acidity, with a delicate sweetness, fruited and very floral. Peach blossom, found in the aromatics, is a dominant theme in the cup which matches fruits and floral flavors. Lemon and apricot also come through, and rose-like floral hints are present as well. A very refined sweetness balances out the brightness; a clean white sugar sweetness without any rustic suggestions. This coffee rates exceptionally well in all categories, with a crystal clear clean and sweet cup, bright, and bold as well. My roasts hovered around City+ level since I wanted to emphasize the clean and bright notes in the cup. Of course you can tone down the cup with a little more roast, but why? Brightness is what this coffee is all about. Keep it light, I say.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Great hair salons of Mujurwe-ini, near Ichamara coop.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/ Floral and fruit notes, bright acidity, sweetness
Roast: My roasts hovered around City+ level since I wanted to emphasize the clean and bright notes in the cup.
Compare to: One of the best Kenya lots of 2010 for sure!
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Kenya Kirinyaga Gachami Peaberry

It was a very competitive year in the Kenya auctions, and the prices reflected the high demand for a much smaller than average harvest. We found many great coffees from the Kirinyaga district, including this really nice peaberry from the Gachami coop. Gachami is a coffee factory (that is, a wet mill) in the Kirinyaga district of Kenya. It is one of 11 wet mills that are part of the Baragwi Farmers Cooperative Society based in Kianyaga town. This peaberry preparation comes from the exact same lot sent to the dry mill, which is then screened into various sizes: AA, AB and PB and off grades as well. These are called "out-turns" in Kenya. I find that, if the milling is done poorly, peaberry lots can have off flavors when compared side-by-side to the AAs and ABs. But done right, they have concentrated brightness and great intensity. That's the case with Gachami.

This is a unique Kenya, with sweet lavender floral in the dry fragrance. The wet aroma shows a slight hoppy-ness with honey, with floral hops on the break. In the darker roasts it's more of a floral clove and allspice break. Over several different cuppings and roast levels, the floral and spice characteristics were the most consistent, but there is also a complex fruitiness. It's a fruit salad quality, like a predominantly pineapple, banana, and melon fruit salad dressed in honey and cinnamon and clove and left to chill overnight. The different attributes of each fruit have blended together, the most potent combination in the cup at the lightest roasts being the brightness and sweetness of the pineapple with the starchy sweetness of the banana. The body has a lot of presence in all roast levels, creamy instead of syrupy, with a slight textural starchiness that helps promote the spice notes. One full day off roast at City + to Full City, the cup shows clove and lavender honey butter with the fruit taking on the melon quality. This coffee might lack the clarity in the body of certain Kenyas, but is sweet, complex, and perhaps even a bit more approachable to those who aren't into the more overtly grapefruity Kenyas.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Cupping auction lots in Kenya January 2011
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB 2010 Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A complex cup, with layers of fruit, sweetness, body.
Roast: More interesting at City+, but with candy sweetness and spice at Full City
Compare to: An intense Kenya that has a complex layered cup.
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Kenya Kirinyaga AA Gakuyu-ini

Gakuyu-ini is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district that is to the west of Nyeri. Gakuyu-ini is a cooperative coffee, the sole coffee group of the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society. It serves Githiru, Gituba and Mukure villages, and the actual mill is in the Gichugu Division near Kianyaga town at 1567 meters. While we like estate coffees, more often than not, the cup quality from cooperatives is superior in Kenya. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. We have a long history buying this coffee as well (both AA and the excellent Peaberries), and that increases our collective trust that this coop can pick and process coffee really well.

The dry fragrance has a ruby red grapefruit scent, moderated by vanilla wafer cookie and caramel sweetness. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics remind me of fresh baked sweet bread, but also have a pronounced floral quality, a lemon-rose potpourri. Slightly darker roasts (FC level) have a black currant jelly note. The cup has delicate balance of the sweet and the sour sensations, with a lively, fresh lemonade brightness. My lightest roast has a resiny hop flower note. Darker Full City roasts have grapey notes. The mouthfeel is silky, with medium density. In the next cupping session we had a distinct grape candy flavor from this Gakuyu-ini, almost like a Jolly Rancher. This is a balanced and sweet lot. There is a hint of winey, ripe character to the fruit. When the cup is completely cool, there is a flavor of sweetened pink grapefruit ... very nice! Overall, it's one of the sweetest, most delicate Kenyas we have had. We have sold out of the peaberry Gakuyu-Ini which was more acidic and higher in tonal range, but I think the AA might be a better day-to-day drinking coffee. And if you can roll with bright espresso, it makes an amazing SO shot!





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SL-28 cultivar trees in Kirinyaga region, Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet and balanced brightness, fresh lemonade, pink grapefruit.
Roast: City to Full City roast
Compare to: Bright Kenya Nyeri-region coffees. Intense, and lively, but with refined nuances.
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Kenya Kirinyaga Guama Peaberry

Guama is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, one of the processing stations of the Baragwi Farmers Cooperative Society located in Kianyaga town. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup too. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit Guama, as it is the first time we have offered this specific coop coffee. I usually head in the direction of Nyeri to visit coops we have worked with more extensively, and Kirinyaga is the opposite way, to the East and away from the Aberdare zone. But we have had so many nice Kirinyaga lots lined up for 2010, I think I must spend more time there! The pictures with this review are SL-28 cultivar, the predominate type in Kirinyaga. This is a Bourbon hybrid from the 1930s developed by Scot Labs, and absolutely the best Kenya cultivar for cup quality.

This is a nicely prepared Peaberry lot, as we have seen many mixed with quite a lot of flatbean (not that it matters if the cup is good!) The fragrance from the dry grounds has a peach scent, and very sweet as well. It reminds me of the canned peaches in syrup, well, not the "can" per se. It's also malty, with a light praline-almond nut character at City roast. The wet aroma is a bit surprising. Light roasts are rather pungent and are marked by a slight tobacco note. Unlike many other coffees, it is actually sweeter at Full City roast, at least aromatically, where the cup has a ginger snap scent to it. There is a honey sweetness as well and it also comes through in the aftertate. In the cup, Guama is of great interest flavor wise because of the complex relation between brightness, sweetness, and this aggressive note particular to Kenyas. Of the later, it is slightly winey, somewhat minerally in accent, and lingering and vivid bright-souring note on the tongue. Sour sounds unattractive, and this is very attractive, but heck, it's sour! I used to call it "tongue-twisting East Africa flavor", something in the cup that seems to grab hold of the tongue and take it for a ride while the coffee sits on the palate. While it might sound unattractive and, well, rude, it's what can make a Kenya complex and unique too. The cup has citrus brightness with additional citrus rindy notes, grapefruit and true lemon, a bracing brightness. As the cup cools, the lighter roasts seem incredibly potent in their brightness. City+ to Full City offer more balance in the cup.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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SL-28 Coffee cherry from my last trip to Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright, bracing cup, citrusy, with aggressive East Africa notes.
Roast: It's a bright coffee, especially as it cools, City+ to Full City offer more balance in the cup.
Compare to: Well structured, bright, bracing cup
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Kenya Kirinyaga Karimikui Peaberry

It was a very competitive year in the Kenya auctions, and the prices reflected the high demand for a much smaller than average harvest. We found many great coffees from the Kirinyaga district, and were pretty excited when one of the lots, this Karimikui, turned out to be quite large. That means we can offer it for a longer time, and being vacuum packed at origin like it is, you can be assured the green coffee will remain spectacularly fresh. This is an Peaberry preparation, which comes from the exact same lot sent to the dry mill, which is then screened into AA, AB and PB sizes. These are called "Outturns" in Kenya. Karimikui is one of the washing stations (a sub-coop wet mill) of the Rugento Farmers Cooperative Society, which is in the town of Embu. We have bought some amazing lots from this station in the past as well, and I think this ranks up with the best. The name seems so Asian, Karimikui from Kirinyaga! And it is a classic Kenya tongue twister, in name and in flavor!

Caramel and graham cracker sweetness are the main theme of the dry fragrance, butterscotch at City+ roast but more sharp at FC. There is a canned pineapple fruit note, with banana hints; a tropical theme. That carries over in the wet aromatics of the coffee: mango and banana, caramelly sweetness, with a darker (but still a very sweet) toffee tone from the FC roasts. There's a hint of herbal scent on the break. I find this cup very complex because it has several different layers of taste: sweet "sugar browning" notes, tropical fruit, herbal hints (think Riccola), and a somewhat rustic suggestion as well. There is an orange marmalade sweetness, accented with clean mango fruit notes on the lighter roasts. The body is syrupy which pairs well with the caramel-butterscotch sweetness. In the finish, the sweet candied fruit flavors turn toward an aggressive, half-herbal and half-foresty character. It's a classic Kenya twist of the tongue. Some in the trade describe it unfavorably as "sweaty" and some quite favorably call it ... "sweaty"! It adds interest and complexity to the cup, and I find it rindy, and makes for a long fading aftertaste. As the cup cools, the fruits seem more winey, and tropical makes way for a black currant and pomegranate-laced syrup. I enjoy this lot so much because it's not just a simple sweet-fruited dessert coffee. It has much more than that and the longer I taste it, the more adjectives seem to flow.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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SL-28 cultivar is a Bourbon hybrid from the 1930's
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB 2010 Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2010 Arrival (GrainPro)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A complex cup, with layers of fruit, sweetness and aggressive rindy finish
Roast: City to Full City+. This works through a wide range of roasts.
Compare to: An intense Kenya that has a complex layered cup.
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Kenya Nyeri Tegu AB Sept 2010

Tegu is a coffee washing station, a wet mill, a coffee factory. Well, it's all three. A "factory" is a wet mill where the coop members bring coffee cherry for pulping, fermenting, washing, drying. It's not the factory as we might imagine it. Small washing stations are aligned with a particular "society" which is what they call a cooperative in Kenya. Tegu is part of Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) which combines the names for their 3 factories: Tegu, Karagoto and Ngunguru. I visited them this season and the previous as well, since we have bought many small lots over time from Tekangu. While most of the lots this year grade out as the smaller AB preparation, the quality from Tegu has been remarkable. And of the 2 lots we secured this season, this chop is the truly the best. What I saw at Tegu was excellent sorting of cherry at the mill by each picker, before they submit the coffee to be processed. Over-ripe and immature cherries are culled out. They also have a system where pickers are graded as A or B. "A" pickers are those who have been proven to deliver well-selected and sorted cherry, and they are invited to submit coffee on the "A" day, when a higher price is paid. "B" pickers are still yet-to-be-proven, or have had more immature beans and over-matures in their bags. They must come on the lowly "B" day and are paid less. Maybe it seems harsh, but there is no better way I have seen to create an incentive for quality harvesting, rather than mindless strip-picking of the coffee tree. (By the way, this A and B picker system has nothing to do with the AA or AB grade, that refers to screen size of the coffee at the dry mill only. AA, AB and PB all comes from the exact same lot submitted to the dry mill, and is separated only by the coffee size screening equipment).

The dry fragrance is sweet with cherry, raspberry, citrus, and floral elements that one day out of the roaster have a slight fresh hops character. The darker roasts have increasingly potent brown sugar note on the grounds. The wet aroma opens up the hoppyness on the young roasts, but winey black currant and sweet citrus fruit are present on the break along with melon rind at City roast that at C+ is increasingly candied, especially a couple more days out of the roaster. At FC the break is caramel with just a hint of rindy sharpness hiding in the back. The cup is a punch bowl full of currant, cranberry, cantaloupe, ripe cherries with a long hard-candy dissolve in the finish. I really can't state enough what even one more extra day of rest does for this coffee, the winey and jammy acidity is fully integrated into the syrupy body and there's more complexity to the sweetness with caramel and vanilla present at FC. FC+ is too deep for this coffee, the vanilla is there and there is still some fruit in the finish, but the front of the cup begins to show some unwelcome smokiness. At the right roast, the mouthfeel has this interesting "fatty" confectionery quality, like white chocolate solids on the palate, but this could be an effect of the flavors. C+ is where I got this coffee to sing for me, the body is nice and the melon is intense with a muscovado sugar... so sweet. I really love this coffee, one of the best Kenyas of the year.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Coffee cherry at Tegu factory, Nyeri, from my visit this season.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: September 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Complex fruit notes, body, outstanding sweetness
Roast: City+ is ideal for this Tegu coffee.
Compare to: Complex and layered Kenya coffee, sweet and fruited, without too much acidity. One of my favorites this season.
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Kenya Nyeri Tegu AB 2010

Tegu is a coffee washing station, a wet mill, a coffee factory. Well, it's all three. A "factory" is a wet mill where the coop members bring coffee cherry for pulping, fermenting, washing, drying. It's not the factory as we might imagine it. Small washing stations are aligned with a particular "society" which is what they call a cooperative in Kenya. Tegu is part of Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) which combines the names for their 3 factories: Tegu, Karagoto and Ngunguru. I visited them this season and the previous as well, since we have bought many small lots over time from Tekangu. While most of the lots this year grade out as the smaller AB preparation, the quality from Tegu has been remarkable. And of the 2 lots we secured this season, this chop is the truly the best. What I saw at Tegu was excellent sorting of cherry at the mill by each picker, before they submit the coffee to be processed. Over-ripe and immature cherries are culled out. They also have a system where pickers are graded as A or B. "A" pickers are those who have been proven to deliver well-selected and sorted cherry, and they are invited to submit coffee on the "A" day, when a higher price is paid. "B" pickers are still yet-to-be-proven, or have had more immature beans and over-matures in their bags. They must come on the lowly "B" day and are paid less. Maybe it seems harsh, but there is no better way I have seen to create an incentive for quality harvesting, rather than mindless strip-picking of the coffee tree. (By the way, this A and B picker system has nothing to do with the AA or AB grade, that refers to screen size of the coffee at the dry mill only. AA, AB and PB all comes from the exact same lot submitted to the dry mill, and is separated only by the coffee size screening equipment).

The dry fragrance is sweet with cherry, raspberry, citrus, and floral elements that one day out of the roaster have a slight fresh hops character. The darker roasts have increasingly potent brown sugar note on the grounds. The wet aroma opens up the hoppiness on the young roasts, but winey black currant and sweet citrus fruit are present on the break along with melon rind at City roast that at C+ is increasingly candied, especially a couple more days out of the roaster. At FC the break is caramel with just a hint of rindy sharpness hiding in the back. The cup is a punch bowl full of currant, cranberry, cantaloupe, ripe cherries with a long hard-candy dissolve in the finish. I really can't state enough what even one more extra day of rest does for this coffee, the winey and jammy acidity is fully integrated into the syrupy body and there's more complexity to the sweetness with some clove and vanilla present at FC. FC+ is too deep for this coffee, the vanilla is there and there is still some fruit in the finish, but the front of the cup begins to show some unwelcome smokiness. At the right roast, the mouthfeel has this interesting "fatty" confectionary quality, like white chocolate solids on the palate, but this could be an effect of the flavors. C+ is where I got this coffee to sing for me, the body is nice and the melon is intense with a muscovado sugar sweetness. Really love this coffee, one of the best Kenyas of the year.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Coffee cherry at Tegu factory, Nyeri, from my visit this season.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold Intensity / bright floral and fruit notes
Roast: City+ is ideal for this Tegu coffee.
Compare to: Bright, complex, intense, nuanced Kenya coffee. One of my favorites this season.
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Kenya Nyeri AA Gaturiri

Gaturiri is a coffee factory (read as cooperative wet mill) near the town of Karatina in the heart of Nyeri. We have offered it before, but not for several years. This arrived in a late shipment, and I was really suprised by the cup, especially since it was shipped the old fashioned way, in jute bags without liners, rather than vacuum pack as most of our Kenya coffees. We had an incredible lot of Gatomboya last year, another "factory" that is part of the same cooperative group as Gaturiri, Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society. So we have been buying from the same family of coffees lately.

The sweetness of the dry fragrance from this Gaturiri is evident from across the room when I grind it. It has fruit and floral aspects, but mainly it possesses a potent caramel scent than borders of sweet savory. The wet aromatics scream out "sweet" as well - plum, caramelized sugar, Concord grape juice. What struck me the first time I cupped this Gaturiri lot was the intense syrupy sweetness and mouthfeel. As I roasted it lighter, grape fruits and related grape-like tartaric acidity was the prime feature. On the third round I was back to the sweetness, caramel, malt syrup, balanced and intense. In fact all these things are present in this coffee and slight roast variations emphasize one or the other. Lighter roasts were more piquant, acidic, as you would expect, but overall this coffee demonstrated a more balanced profile than other Kenyas, especially ones that are dominated by citrus acidity. It's not a huge lot, and will probably come and go in a matter of weeks. Hopefully we can find some nice Gaturiri to offer in the next harvest, and make this a more regular offering.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Well, the closest I was to Gaturiri was the other Barichu coop, Gatomboya!
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District, Karatina Division
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: September 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Dark fruits, milky body, complexity
Roast: City+ roast to Full City is ideal for Gichatha-ini.
Compare to: Complex Kenya flavor profile, with spice and dark fruits, and without the screaming bright acidity of some other lots
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Kenya Kirinyaga Kiangoi Peaberry

Kiangoi is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, one of the processing stations of the Kibirigwi Farmers Cooperative Society located in Kerugoya. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup too. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit Kiangoi, as it is the second time we have offered this specific coop coffee. I usually head in the direction of Nyeri to visit coops we have worked with more extensively, and Kirinyaga is the opposite way, to the East and away from the Aberdare zone. But we have had so many nice Kirinyaga lots lined up for 2010, I think I must spend more time there! The pictures with this review are SL-28 cultivar, the predominate type in Kirinyaga.

This is a Bourbon hybrid from the 1930s developed by Scot Labs, and absolutely the best Kenya cultivar for cup quality. This is a nicely prepared Peaberry lot, as we have seen many mixed with quite a lot of flatbean (not that it matters if the cup is good!) The fragrance from the dry grounds has a sweet praline nut tone (City roast and City+ roast), as well as buttery caramel. I found the wet aromatic to be tea-like, malty, a little wheaty (like malt-o-meal), honeyed, with a hawthorn floral element. It's a very interesting flavor profile, not your fruitbowl Kenya, but a nicely structured, bracing and bright, articulate cup that is, in the final analysis, fairly straightforward. Stone fruits, firm peach and apricot (not overly ripe), juicy mouthfeel, a touch of hawthorn floral note (as found in the aromatics), a slightly drying tea-like quality to the finish.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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SL-28 Coffee cherry from my last trip to Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late May 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright, bracing cup, stone fruits, tea notes, floral
Roast: City+ roast maximizes the brightness of this coffee. If you want to tone it down a little, try Full City, before 2nd crack.
Compare to: Well structured, bright, bracing cup
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Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry Gakuyu-ini

This is a different lot of Gakuyu-ini PB from the previous, having an unsual, exotic (almost Indonesia-like) accent to the cup. This is actually our second lot from the Kenya Main Harvest 2010 of Gakuyu-ini, a coffee well known here at Sweet Maria's. We have offered Gakuyu-ini lots many times over the years, and will have multiple AA and PB lots in 2010. Gakuyu-ini is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, the sole coffee group of the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. The dry fragrance is so full of ripe fruits, a cornucopia of plum, grape, raisin, mock orange blossom, lemon, and sweet spices as well. The wet aroma has the smell of ripe stone fruit, plum, apricot, and slightly winey grape, as well as the sweetness of caramel pudding. There's a touch of cane sugar and caramel as well. The cup has high-toned citrus, lemon drops in one cupping session and ripe Meyer Lemon with a twist of rind in the next. There are layers of Golden Raisin and plum beneath. As it cools, flame grape flavors and dried plum emerge with a tad bit of tannic grape skins. There is something a bit wild in this cup too, a foresty note akin to some Sumatra coffees, which gives it a more aggressive posture. While you might call it a "fruit bomb" flavor profile, it has structure as well, bracing brightness with body and a long aftertaste which hovers between sweet candy-like tones and a citrus rind exclamation point. When the cup is cool, sweet passion fruit tropical tones come out. This cup has so many layers of fruit, and each tasting seems to reveal new characteristics, the hallmark of a quality, complex coffee. Best of all, it's a very seductive coffee you want to keep drinking all day long.





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Mount Kenya in the distance, taken from the Kirinyaga turnoff.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: June 2010 Arrival -Vac Pack
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A "fruit bomb" with complex, multi-layers of fruit flavor, high acidity.
Roast: City+ roast maximizes the brightness and fruit character of this coffee. If you want to tone it down a little, try Full City, before 2nd crack. A note too: 2010 Kenyas are all going to be $1.00 more at the minimum due to the auction prices being very high. This is a last chance to get a great Kenya at a more reasonable price!
Compare to: Complex fruit notes, bright citrus, complex.
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Kenya AA Kainamui Kirinyaga

Kainamui is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. This is where the farmers bring the coffee cherry they harvest in the local area for pulping, fermenting, and sun-drying. It is a cooperative coffee, one of two mills in the New Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society, in the town of Kianyaga. While we have nothing against estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior in Kenya. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. While I have not visited the Kainamui factory, it's on my agenda for the next trip after finding this amazing lot. This is a burly and strong Kenya coffee, not for those who might be on the fence in their feelings for the bright Kenya flavor profile.

The dry fragrance has sweet orange citrus brightness and strong (slightly rustic) caramel sweet notes. This scent is a bit like the Cajeta (milk caramel sauce) and sweetened condensed milk. Adding hot water, the wet aromatics remind me of raw cane sugar, jolly rancher cherry candy, but also have a pronounced floral quality, a lemon-rose potpourri. The cup is boldly bright, in the extreme, a very piquant and high-toned coffee. Ripe orange, zested with orange peel tangy taste in the finish, dominates the cup initially. There's a seductive sweetness that provides a great backdrop for these high tones, with a syrupy caramelized sugar quality. As the cup cools the high notes sharpen, becoming an exhilarating lemony burst, yet the fading into a sweet and long-lasting finish. This Kenya both twists at your tongue, and tames it with layers of citric acidity paired with strong sweetness. It's a roller-coaster of a coffee, racy and dynamic. When we do the post-season Kenya wrap-up on the cupping table, I have a strong feeling this will be the powerhouse lot of all 2010.





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Coffee emerging from the 3 disc Kenya pulper, at a coffee factory in Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Intensely bright and intensely sweet, a very bold Kenya.
Roast: City to Full City roast, with City+ being ideal.
Compare to: Strong brightness and sweetness, a brute of a Kenya
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Kenya Kirinyaga Karimikui

It was a very competitive year in the Kenya auctions, and the prices reflected the high demand for a much smaller than average harvest. We found many great coffees from the Kirinyaga district, and were pretty excited when one of the lots, this Karimikui, turned out to be quite large. That means we can offer it for a longer time, and being vacuum packed at origin like it is, you can be assured the green coffee will remain spectacularly fresh. This is an AB preparation, only referring to a slightly smaller bean size, not to the cup quality. In fact, because of the weather patterns much of the Kenya harvest resulted in smaller screen sizes for the coffee, hence many AB-graded lots. In fact, AB lots cupped on par and sometimes better than AA lots from the very same mill outturn (meaning they were the exact same coffee entering the mill, then separated only by the size screening equipment). Karimikui is one of the washing stations (a sub-coop wet mill) of the Rugento Farmers Cooperative Society, which is in the town of Embu. We have bought some amazing lots from this station in the past as well, and I think this ranks up with the best. The name seems so Asian, Karimikui from Kirinyaga! And it is a classic Kenya tongue twister, in name and in flavor!

Caramel and graham cracker sweetness are the main theme of the dry fragrance, butterscotch at City+ roast but more sharp at FC. There is a canned pineapple fruit note, with banana hints; a tropical theme. That carries over in the wet aromatics of the coffee: mango and banana, caramelly sweetness, with a darker (but still a very sweet) toffee tone from the FC roasts. There's a hint of herbal scent on the break. I find this cup very complex because it has several different layers of taste: sweet "sugar browning" notes, tropical fruit, herbal hints (think Riccola), and a somewhat rustic suggestion as well. There is an orange marmalade sweetness, accented with clean mango fruit notes on the lighter roasts. The body is syrupy which pairs well with the caramel-butterscotch sweetness. In the finish, the sweet candied fruit flavors turn toward an aggressive, half-herbal and half-foresty character. It's a classic Kenya twist of the tongue. Some in the trade describe it unfavorably as "sweaty" and some quite favorably call it ... "sweaty"! It adds interest and complexity to the cup, and I find it rindy, and makes for a long fading aftertaste. As the cup cools, the fruits seem more winey, and tropical makes way for a black currant and pomegranate-laced syrup. I enjoy this lot so much because it's not just a simple sweet-fruited dessert coffee. It has much more than that and the longer I taste it, the more adjectives seem to flow.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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SL-28 cultivar is a Bourbon hybrid from the 1930's
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB 2010 Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A complex cup, with layers of fruit, sweetness and aggressive rindy finish
Roast: City to Full City+. This works through a wide range of roasts.
Compare to: An intense Kenya that has a complex layered cup.
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Kenya Murang'a AA Kangunu

Kangunu Farmers Cooperative Society is located about 140 km North West of Nairobi in Murang'a North district of the Central Province. I had bought this coffee in the past, but we don't often focus on Murang'a lots because they are often a bit less dynamic in the cup than Nyeri region coffees. But the Murang'a area is a rich agricultural oasis on the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains. Kangunu is at 1740 meters, endowed with rich volcanic soils that are deep, well drained and have much organic material; perfect for coffee. This lot came to us in an unusual way; I was alerted by someone visiting the cupping lab in Nairobi that there was a stand-out coffee that some of the local cuppers were very excited about. I received a sample and wow, it was a fantastic Kenya. I was convinced so we formed a small group of 4 roasters to buy it through the direct trade mechanism in Kenya, called oddly the "Second Window", because in fact it allows one to pull a coffee from the auction listings and buy it first! With this, you can negotiate a price with the coop that they are sure is better than anything possible in the auction. And it was: I can't be 100% sure but at the time of the deal, this was the highest price paid for a Kenya coffee from the Main Harvest. This might not hold the record though, because prices were extremely high this year at auction too, but not this high. This purchase offers a direct reward to the cooperative for producing a great lot, and incentive to do it again. The fragrance from the dry grounds is boldly potent, loaded with raw cane sugar syrupy sweetness and berry fruit notes. Adding hot water, the wet aroma has fruit juice notes, caramel-vanilla extracts, dark blackberry and grape, that same bold sweetness, and a trace of sweet tobacco. This coffee was amazing at every roast level I laid on it. Perhaps the lightest roast, a "cupping roast" that was light City level, was a bit grainy and tannic, but still had well-developed citric notes. At City+ to FC the berry and black currant fruit notes kick in. The cup has malt syrup sweetness in the lighter roasts, with caramel and chocolate roast hints in balance. As it cools there are sweet honey notes with floral violet accents. It's not all fruits and flowers, there is something aggressive about this cup too, suggested by the sweet tobacco aroma, and a bittering note that borders on "fresh leather" in the finish. Along with the marked brightness, this interesting finish elevates this to the level of a "tongue-twisting Kenya", a very complex and big coffee on the palate.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Carrying for trees, a Kangunu coop member.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Direct Purchase
Region: Murang'a District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late May 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ screen
Varietal: SL-28, and SL-34, some Ruiru 11
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Extremely sweet, heavily fruited, bright, aggressive.
Roast: City to Full City roast
Compare to: Intense, bright and very sweet; a top notch Kenya.
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Kenya Kirinyaga Karani Peaberry

Karani is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, one of the processing stations of the Kabare Farmers Cooperative Society located in Kerugoya. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup too. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit Karani, as it is the second time we have offered this specific coop coffee. I usually head in the direction of Nyeri to visit coops we have worked with more extensively, and Kirinyaga is the opposite way, to the East and away from the Aberdare zone. But we have had so many nice Kirinyaga lots lined up for 2010, I think I must spend more time there! This is a large screen peaberry lot, but actually includes quite a bit of flatbeans too, for your information. Of course, we grind it up and judge it by cup flavors, so the shape of the coffee matters naught. This coffee slipped from first to second rapidly, so pay attention. Perhaps I was just having a bad day on the sample roaster, but luckily all the roasts I did cupped very well! I liked the unabashed brightness of the lighter roasts. The dry fragrance is very malty-caramelly in its sweetness. There are soft tropical fruit notes and these are fleshed out even more in the wet aroma. There are also lemon wafer scents, caramel biscuit and stone fruits (peach, mainly) in the wet aromatics. The light roast cup has a wonderful rindy citrus note, lemon/pink grapefruit. The sweetness is offset by a slightly drying finish; it makes for a lively, almost effervescent cup. There's a bit of Acacia floral note, topping off the bright end of the cup. I liked the slightly darker roasts I did, they were more balanced. But I can't help but feel I am missing something with FC+ roasts, when I compare them to the dynamic City roast. The darker roast is (as expected) more bittersweet, dark chocolate covering citrus accents.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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SL-28 cultivar is a Bourbon hybrid from the 1930's
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late May 2010 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Light roasts: citric, malty sweet.
Roast: City+ roast maximizes the brightness and citric character of this coffee. If you want to tone it down a little, try Full City, before 2nd crack.
Compare to: Complex citric and malt syrup notes, bright cup. More like a Nyeri than a Kirinyaga coffee.
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Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry Gakuyu-ini

This is our first new arrival for 2010 from the Main Harvest in Kenya, but a coffee well known here at Sweet Maria's. We have offered Gakuyu-ini lots many times over the years, and will have multiple AA and PB lots in 2010. Gakuyu-ini is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, the sole coffee group of the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. The dry fragrance is so full of ripe fruits, a cornucopia of raisin, plum, sweet orange and lemon creme, and sweet spices as well. The wet aroma has the smell of ripe stone fruits, peach, plum, apricot, and the sweetness of caramel pudding. There's a touch of cane sugar and caramel as well. The cup has high-toned citrus, lemon drops in one cupping session and ripe Meyer Lemon with a twist of rind in the next. There are layers of Golden Raisin and plum beneath. As it cools, flame grape flavors and dried plum emerge with a tad bit of tannic grape skins. While you might call it a fruit bomb, it has structure as well, bracing brightness with body and a long aftertaste which hovers between sweet candy-like tones and a citrus rind exclamation point. When the cup is cool, sweet passion fruit tropical tones come out. This cup has so many layers of fruit, and each tasting seems to reveal new characteristics, the hallmark of a quality, complex coffee. Best of all, it's a very seductive coffee you want to keep drinking all day long.





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Mount Kenya in the distance, taken from the Kirinyaga turnoff.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late May 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A "fruit bomb" with complex, multi-layers of fruit flavor, high acidity.
Roast: City+ roast maximizes the brightness and fruit character of this coffee. If you want to tone it down a little, try Full City, before 2nd crack. A note too: 2010 Kenyas are all going to be $1.00 more at the minimum due to the auction prices being very high. This is a last chance to get a great Kenya at a more reasonable price!
Compare to: Complex fruit notes, bright citrus, complex.
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Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry Gakuyu-ini

Gakuyu-ini is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district that is to the west of Nyeri. Gakuyu-ini is a cooperative coffee, the sole coffee group of the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society. It serves Githiru, Gituba and Mukure villages, and the actual mill is in the Gichugu Division near Kianyaga town at 1567 meters. While we like estate coffees, more often than not, the cup quality from cooperatives is superior. In a co-op, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. We have a long history buying this coffee as well (both AA and the excellent Peaberries), and that increases our collective trust that this coop can pick and process coffee really well. This is a coffee stored in vacuum packs at our warehouse and it has held up very well. As vividly bright as when it first arrived! The dry fragrance has a slightly winey grape note, red flame grape, sweet raisin, and plum pudding, with a touch of clove and allspice. Adding hot water, t wet aroma has flashes of fruit, apricot layered over fresh berry and black currant jelly. On the break there is a jasmine floral scent. What an interesting cup this is, rather delicate for a Kenya in some regards, but with unique, nippy accent notes. There are bright rose-like floral flavors, a bit of jasmine tea as found in the aroma, Bergamot citrus, Meyer lemon. The body is light but dynamic. When hot it appears to have all the flavors compacted into a very limited range with a crisp finish, but as it cools it really opens up and has a long and syrupy finish with sticky white grape and pineapple. Tea notes, jasmine, resiny hop flowers, malt syrup, and even a hint of nutmeg and cardamom emerge as the temperature drops.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 defect per 300 grams, PB 17+ screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast: City+ roast through Full City; It's exceptionally sweet in the lighter roast levels, and the acidity is not shrill, even at City roast.
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Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry -Gakuyu-ini Factory

Gakuyu-ini is a "factory," a coffee mill in Kenya terminology, from the Kirinyaga growing district. It is a cooperative coffee, the sole coffee group of the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society. While we like estate coffees, oftentimes the qualities from cooperatives is superior. In a coop, each member is tending to only 200-500 trees on less than a hectare, as opposed to a huge estate that uses agribusiness growing methods. I think it shows in the cup. The dry fragrance is so full of ripe fruits, a cornucopia of raisin, plum, sweet orange and lemon creme, and sweet spices as well. The wet aroma has the smell of ripe stone fruits, peach, plum, apricot, and the sweetness of caramel pudding. There's a touch of cane sugar and caramel as well. The cup has high-toned citrus, lemon drops in one cupping session and ripe Meyer Lemon with a twist of rind in the next. There are layers of Golden Raisin and plum beneath. As it cools, flame grape flavors and dried plum emerge with a tad bit of tannic grape skins. While you might call it a fruit bomb, it has structure as well, bracing brightness with body and a long aftertaste which hovers between sweet candy-like tones and a citrus rind exclamation point. When the cup is cool, sweet passion fruit tropical tones come out. This cup has so many layers of fruit, and each tasting seems to reveal new characteristics, the hallmark of a quality, complex coffee. Best of all, it's a very seductive coffee you want to keep drinking all day long. This is our vacuum packed '09 crop lot that cups like the day it arrived. It's truly amazing what vacuum packing at origin can do for a coffee. We open the vac packs and pack into our bags right before shipping.





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SL-28 cultivar trees in Kirinyaga region, Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / A "fruit bomb" with complex, multi-layers of fruit flavor, high acidity.
Roast: City+ roast maximizes the brightness and fruit character of this coffee. If you want to tone it down a little, try Full City, before 2nd crack. A note too: 2010 Kenyas are all going to be $1.00 more at the minimum due to the auction prices being very high. This is a last chance to get a great Kenya at a more reasonable price!
Compare to: Complex fruit notes, bright citrus, complex.
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Kenya Kiambu Peaberry - Riuki

Riuki is part of the Nyakiri Coffee Farmers Co-op. Society in Kiambu district of Kenya. We weren't able to visit Riuki or Nyariki when we were last in Kiambu, but have seen the nearby coops. This area is old coffee farming land, not far from Nairobi, which is why it is dominated by large coffee estates. Many of the estates here are held by multi-nationals and farm coffee using agribusiness techniques with an eye toward yield. Traveling through Kiambu on the way to Kirinyaga or Nyeri, you see these massive treeless coffee estates. It is a striking contrast to the small-holder farms with perhaps 200-500 coffee trees, and a small family compound with a house and outbuilding, chickens, vegetable gardens, a cow. It's not about a rustic ideal, but that a small-holder farmer in Kenya cares for trees in a much different way that the large Estates with large crew of hired labor. The Kenya coop farmer lives with their coffee trees. And that is why having a cooperative of small-holder farmers in the midst of Kiambu is special, and offers the members some better options than simply selling their coffee cherry to a mill at the day's going rate. This lot has a malty sweet scent in the dry fragrance, and the wet aroma has fruit juice notes, a bit of peach and apricot in the light roast. Ruiki Peaberry is certainly a bright coffee, especially in the unfettered lighter roast levels of City to City+ where the brightness has an electric fuzz tone quality to it. It has a sharp spicy accent, white pepper and cinnamon, lemon drop sweetness, and mandarin orange with a little strawberry-rhubarb. At Full City, there are plum and dark currant layers of fruit, behind a snappy citrusy alto note. There's a bit of pepper and a trace of clove in darker roast levels as well. The finish has a black tea tannic dryness when the roast is fresh, which tones down after several days of post-roast rest. In fact, after 5 days we re-cupped and had sweet grape/black currant jam sweetness in the finish, a classic Kenya mark of quality.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Old trunk of Kenya SL-28 coffee tree, perhaps 40-60 years in age.
Country: Kenya
Grade: Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kiambu
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .4 defect per 300 grams, PB 17+ screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold / Fruited and sweet Kenya, bright tone, spice hints
Roast: City+ to Full City. This coffee is bright and requires some development immediately after 1st crack to balanced acidity and roast flavor. But darker levels tend to mute the wonderful fruit and spice too much.
Compare to: More like the Kirniyaga Kenyas than other Kiambu region coffees
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Kenya Nyeri Kiamabara Peaberry

Kiamabara is one of the "factories", or wet-processing mills, that is part of the Mugaga cooperative cluster. Coops are called "societies" in Kenya. Kiamabara was one of the stars of our Kenya line-up in '09, with the Peaberry and the fancier AA lot coming in amazing. On returning to Kenya the second time in late 2009, I made sure to spend a full day with the Mugaga coop officers, and see the coffee harvest in full swing at their factories. Kiamabara was just starting to be harvested, since Nyeri is picked a bit later than the lower and larger farms of Kiambu, Embu, Ruiru, Etc. I visited some of the small-holder farmers to see the coffee on the trees, as well as the factory itself to see parchment coffee drying on the beds. One of the main factors that elevate the quality of Kenya coffees is the fact that the pickers harvest selectively, then, before they turn their coffee in at the mill, re-sort the cherry again, removing under-ripes and over-ripes. It's a critical step, and one you can taste in the cup. We had both an AA and a PB lot from Kiamabara; this is the later. There's a balanced and slightly muted aromatic in the dry fragrance, with vanilla sweetness, floral hints and orange tea. The wet aroma has fruited notes, red currant, baked peaches, and fairly mild overall compared to other Kenya microlots. But on the break it sparks to life with stone fruit sweetness, slightly winey Syrah-like fruits, and a spicy cinnamon accent. This coffee reads like a concentrated form of other Kenyas from earlier in the season, brighter, but with similar vanilla-like notes as well. Orange marmalade and apricot jam are the fruited sweet flavors in the cup, but at City+ roast there is a black currant note representing darker fruits providing an underlying layer. The lightest City roast finishes with peach flavor and a light hazelnut tone. It's a very high-toned coffee at City roast level and works well through City+, but I would not go too dark with it. Full City is acceptable but I feel you lose some of the character of the cup as you eclipse it with darker roast notes. By the way, you can lower the perceived acidity of a Kenya in the cup if you brew it a bit strong and for a shorter steep time, then add hot water to dilute to taste. It's an interesting experiment; try it!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Cluster of SL-28 Bourbon coffee cherry, at the Farm of Lawrence Gatheru, Kiamabara farmer.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Konyu, Mathira, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/ Fruit jam flavors, spice accents
Roast: A City to Full City roast. Right in the middle of these, C+ was my favorite.
Compare to: High level Nyeri coffees, bright , powerful, and nuanced.
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Kenya Nyeri Gathaithi Peaberry

Gathaithi is a small town in the Mathira subdistrict of Nyeri, which gained a measure of notoriety last year when a group of locals, vigilantes I suppose, retaliated against a gang who were demanding payment from persons and businesses with machetes. It's not a comforting image, nor consistent at all with the placid rural lifestyle I experience on my trips to Nyeri coffee areas. Well, bad people are everywhere, Oakland to Nyeri! But in Oakland we don't take on thugs with long sharp knives. Anyway, trying to put this out of my mind, they produce some very interesting coffee in Gathaithi as well. It has an unsual flavor profile, starting with the dry fragrance. There are both floral and herbal elements, with additional hints of red currants and sweet brown bread. The wet aroma has unique spice notes, violets and vanilla. On the break there are potent aromatics that emerge, jasmine tea floral scents and exotic spice, along with volatile fruited scents. Gathaithi Peaberry has an interesting blend of Kenya cup character, some of the bright citrusy notes, some of the rindy aftertaste, some of the winey dark fruits. My initial roasts were fairly light, and at City roast was where red currant notes and lemony citrus converged. City roast is quite patchy and dry looking, and does not have a smooth surface appearance. At a slightly darker roast, sweetness from grapey fruits and brightness from the citrus peel find some equilibrium at this roast. There's a nice Oolong tea character as the cup cools, with a pleasant dryness. In the second cupping we did with this coffee (different roasts too), we saw more of a sweet Meyer lemon character come through - not a tart sour lemon but a very ripe, mature lemon flavor, with honeyed sweetness too it as well. This is a lot that was shipped and stored in vacuum-packing, and has an amazingly clean cup like the day it arrived!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Coffee harvest being submitted at the mill, from my last trip to Nyeri.
Country: Kenya
Grade: Peaberry Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Gathaithi Town, Mathira, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity / Floral, citrusy, red currant, tea-like
Roast: City roast was a very lively cup, whereas City+ to Full City balanced out a bit, as red currant flavors became more grapey.
Compare to: Unusual Kenya flavor with some herbal aromas, floral and citrus notes. A bright cup, especially at City roast.
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Kenya Nyeri AA Kiamabara

Kiamabara is one of the "factories", or wet-processing mills, that is part of the Mugaga cooperative cluster. Coops are called "societies" in Kenya. Kiamabara was one of the stars of our Kenya line-up in '09, with the Peaberry and the fancier AA lot coming in amazing. On returning to Kenya the second time in late 2009, I made sure to spend a full day with the Mugaga coop officers, and see the coffee harvest in full swing at their factories. Kiamabara was just starting to be harvested, since Nyeri is picked a bit later than the lower and larger farms of Kiambu, Embu, Ruiru, Etc. I visited some of the small-holder farmers to see the coffee on the trees, as well as the factory itself to see parchment coffee drying on the beds. One of the main factors that elevate the quality of Kenya coffees is the fact that the pickers harvest selectively, then, before they turn their coffee in at the mill, re-sort the cherry again, removing under-ripes and over-ripes. It's a critical step, and one you can taste in the cup. This AA lot was one of our more expensive coffees out of Kenya, but well worth it. (And when we pay more, the premium is returned directly to the cooperative and it's farmers, so we don't mind!) It is a interesting and balanced Kenya flavor profile. The Kiamabara has a very sweet, brown sugar-like dry fragrance, with citrus flower accents. There's a suggestion of orange spice tea, and that comes into focus in the wet aroma. There's also a very sweet rose bloom aromatic on the break. The cup is lively and bright but proportionally balanced too. Orange and spice are the main theme with the cup flavors. Ripe and sweet orange notes with moderate acidity provide the fruit, and a mulling spice blend (cinnamon, allspice, a touch of clove) provide the zest. There is a secondary layer of apricot fruit, and as it cools a touch of pink grapefruit and mature meyer lemon. It strikes a perfect sweet and sour balance, with cane sugar and lemon juice evident in the aftertaste.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Jeremiah Muraya holds up a ripe coffe cherry, at the Farm of Lawrence Gatheru, Kiamabara farmer.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Konyu, Mathira, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/ Citrus, floral notes, complex fruits
Roast: A City to Full City roast. Don't go beyond that level or the "origin character" suffers.
Compare to: A complete cup profile with balanced acidity and complex fruits.
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Kenya Nyeri Peaberry Kieni

Kieni Coffee Factory is part of the Mugaga Society, who produce the great Kagumoini and Kiamabara coffees we have offered this year. "Coffee Factory" might not sound right, but this is what a coffee mill is called in Kenya, and a Coop is called a Society. Mugaga has been one of my favorite groups this year, and when I visited in November-December we started talking about purchasing direct lots, bypassing the auction. The auction is great, but direct purchasing actually ensures a slightly higher price to the farmer group, and more transparency in pricing. Kieni is one of the smaller mills in the group which is perhaps why we have not seen samples of it often, if ever. That's too bad, because this is an amazing, vividly bright cup. The dry fragrance has a sweet note, with cane sugar accent with caramelized sugar. There are fruit juice scents, peach-apricot nectar. The wet aroma has dynamic volatile qualities of spice (even a touch of cardamom). It also has an interestingly complex sweet butter and caramel scent. The cup is all about dynamic citrus bright notes, lemon, with a twist of rind, a momentary lime sensation, tangerine juice ...and even a suggestion of pineapple in the aftertaste. It's a bracing, bright cup. The finish is pleasantly dry, tea-like in a way. In fact, I did a series of roasts later and tea notes were dominant, balanced English Breakfast black tea flavor, with a twist of orange. My lightest roasts had a malted wheat note and were a little rough in texture (City roast). I think this coffee really works from City+ to Full City+ levels. In fact, around FC+ there is a piquant passionfruit taste, and dark brown sugar sweetness. Overall, the Kieni strikes a superb balance between lively citrus notes and sweet, mature fruit.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Ripe coffee cherry ready to be pulped and fermented at the mill. Kenya Nyeri area Dec '09
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District, Mathira Division
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Aug 2009 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Vivid brightness, Citrus notes, sweetness
Roast: City+ roast to Full City+ is ideal for the Kieni Peaberry lot.
Compare to: A Kenya with refined citrusy brightness, perhaps not for those who like lower-toned coffees, but a gem for those who favor alto-toned flavors.
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Kenya Kiambu Nyaga Peaberry

Nyaga is a "factory" (a coffee mill) that is part of the Nyakiri Farmer's Cooperative Society in Kiambu. This is an area dominated by large farms, and in fact I did not even know there were cooperatives in the area until recently. The altitudes in Kiambu are a bit lower than Nyeri, but in the range of 1550-1700 meters, quite high! This was a lot that just bowled me over when I was cupping in Nairobi earlier in the season. It was very sweet, fruited with dark berry, and had a slightly lower tone than some of the more citrusy Nyeri lots. We shipped this in vacuum pack barrier pouches from Kenya and have archived it here in our warehouse until now. With out vacuum packs, it cups like the day it arrived. The dry fragrance has a complex malt-toned sweetness, vanilla, caramel and a strong blackberry syrup scent with a hint of dark cane sugar as well. The wet aroma has a sharper, brown-sugary sweetness, much like cinnamon toast, and still a dark fruited sweet scent. Sweet is the key word here, and I hope I don't overuse it. What a sweet cup! It is definitely what you would call "fruit forward!" It has loads of berry and grape tones, with a ripe, almost winey accent to it. Blackberry (turning to raspberry in the aftertaste), plum and dark grape sweetness abound. There's a slight rindy citrus accent in the aftertaste, especially at City roast level. I prefer a little more roast, City+ or Full City is ideal. It's a Kirinyaga-like flavor profile, and a potent, sweetly Kenya-like cup in terms of intensity and ripe fruit character. And what a syrupy cup this is ... a syrupy and slick mouthfeel that compliments the flavors quite well. One thing to note: the coffee is a peaberry separation but has a fair number of flat beans in the mix too, more than I am used to seeing. Of course, the cup is fantastic, and I wouldn't care if the seed shape was cubic, as long as the cup was as good as this is!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Ripe coffee on the tree, from my recent trip to Kenya.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kiambu Region
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen + Flats
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-bold Intensity / Sweet ripe fruit with winey accent notes
Roast: City+ roast to Full City is ideal for the Nyaga peaberry.
Compare to: Ripe fruit, berry syrup, winey, sweet; it's a lovely Kenya coffee!
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Kenya AA Nyeri Tambaya

Tambaya is one of the Coffee Factories (wet-mills that are organized as cooperatives) within the Rumukia Coffee Farmer Society in Karatina area of Nyeri. Tambaya is close to Mukurwe-ini, and was formerly part of this society until it fell apart in the '90s. Within the same Rumukia group are some other fantastic farms we have offered in the past: Kiawamururu, Gatura, and Thunguri to name a few. The area of Tambaya is 1550 meter altitude, in the fertile foothills of Mt. Kenya and Aberdare ranges. The Tambaya coop has 1093 members and the average number of coffee trees per member is just 250. Again, in Kenya coffee "societies" the farmer's plots are so small, they are measured in numbers of trees, not in area of land as they are in other coffee origins. But this means that co-ops provide micro-management of every coffee tree by the owner of the land, not by a large-scale agriculture operation like the big estates of Kiambu or Thika. The member farmers have the two preferred coffee varieties under cultivation, SL-28 and SL-34, with the vast majority of trees being SL-28. Tambaya has a lush dry fragrance with vanilla notes, warm spice, caramel-vanilla and very sweet fruited notes. There is a peach apricot scent, but in a jammy/candy-like form, not the real thing. The wet aroma has a wine-like fruited tone, and a sweet berry syrup scent as well. There's a dash of spice in there, cinnamon with a bit of mace. The cup is outstanding and rather elegant too; bright, alto-tones yet with balance. There are pink grapefruit citrus notes, jasmine tea floral flavors, and a light brown sugar sweetness in the lighter roasts. At City+ level, ripe Mandarin orange flavors dominate, with a layer of warming spices. As it cools, toasted almond essence comes out, peach and apricot stone fruits, Earl Grey tea in the finish. And yet it is improbably sweet from start to finish, the sweetness of mature, ripe fruits. On my last pass at the cupping table, I found myself simply drinking this irresistibly delicious coffee (rather than spitting, which we do to avoid getting over-caffeinated!) While lightest roasts have a bracing finish, it is milder and more "rounded" in acidity (as opposed to a sharp, prickly acidity) than some of our other lots, and complex in it's estery floral and fruit characteristics as well. The Tambaya is one of a handful of Kenyas with the right flavor profile to work well in espresso, either straight (if you like bright, dynamic espresso) or as an aromatic component in a blend.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Manager of the Tambaya Factory in Nyeri, James.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA
Region: Nyeri
Processing: Wet-process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 defect per 300 grams, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold Intensity/ Very sweet cup with ripe fruits and spice
Roast: City to Full City; for a Kenya, Tambaya is a milder coffee in terms of acidity and can be presented with a lighter roast. I noticed that in drum roasters a faster, more aggressive roast treatment was better for this coffee.
Compare to: Very elegant, balanced Kenyas, intensely sweet, and not tartly acidic.
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Kenya Nyeri Ndiaini-Kiagundo WP Decaf

I am starting to get pretty excited about decafs. Yes, it is true, and there's a good reason. We have been able to send our own coffees to the decaffeination plant lately, something we could not do before because the minimum lot size is so large. But by teaming up with another roaster, we are able to have total control of the green coffee selected for the decaffeination process, and the results have been stunning. We have out Guatemala La Maravilla and Ethiopia Moredocofe Sidamo from Swiss Water Process in Canada. And now we have what amounts to the crown jewel of the pack, a mix of two Kenya AA auction lots from Nyeri area, fantastic coffees in their own right, that we sent to the water process decaf plant in Mexico, and the result is the best decaf coffee I have tasted in recent memory. It is brilliant! I needed to use 2 lots to form the minimum bag amount, but this worked out well. The Kiagundo was a bright and citrusy coffee, the Ndia-ini had fruit, body, depth. Together they were better than their parts, and the decaf cup I have before me speaks to that. The dry fragrance is intensely sweet, caramelly, and delightfully fruited with red apple, peach and plum. The wet aromatics bring out different fruits and berries: pineapple, dry plum, strawberry. The cup coalesces the aromatic qualities. It's very sweet, bright, fruited, light-bodied, and vibrant. Plum and strawberry are the dominant fruits initially, with ripe, sweet pineapple in the finish. There is a cinnamon accent, turning to clove at Full City roast. The light body rather suits the effervescent nature of the cup. The finish has a nice apple-like tartness, and caramel-molasses lingering flavors, the later being the only hint I get from this coffee that it is a decaf at all. A 90 point decaf? Some may think it's a stretch, but put this on the table next to a really nice, clean, balanced decaf you give 85 points, and tell me this is not a 90! Aromatically, and in terms of sweetness and clean fruited notes, it's an amazing cup. Unless, of course, you don't like Kenya coffees at all ...because this cups so well side by side with it's non-decaf Kenya counterparts.





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Ripening coffee cherry and blue skies, in Karatina, Nyeri.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Auction Lots, Main Crop
Region: Nyeri, Karatina and Mukurweini
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: November 2009 Arrival (Grain Pro)
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Extraordinary sweetness, fruited notes, vivid brightness.
Roast: City to Full City+. I was amazed at how well the sweetness and fruit flavors are present throughout the medium roast range. Of course, like all decafs, judging roast by color is difficult, so listen and watch the roast carefully.
Compare to: The best of the best decafs. This lot has preserved the brightness and fruit
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Kenya Nyeri AA Gichatha-ini

This lot of Gichatha-ini is a large bean AA grade selection from a coperative I visited after the harvest this season. Gichatha-ini is a factory, the site of a coffee mill, and is one third of the Gikanga Farmer's Cooperative Society. (The other two factories are Kangocho and Ndaro-ini. The name Gikanda is made up of the three factory names: GIchathaini + KAngocho + NDAor-ini). They have been an outstanding cooperative for years, and as early as this season we offered another great lot from them, in that case the Ndaro-ini factory. This coffee was not bought through the Kenya auction, but rather, in a direct deal with the cooperative that benefits them to a farm greater extent. This is called the "second harvest" buying window. It means the price is a bit higher, but they always are for AA grades from cooperatives like this, for whom many coffee roasters worldwide compete to obtain the best lots. It's also a really exquisite coffee! The dry fragrance has a dark and complex sweetness, with suggestions of black cherry syrup (used to make your own soda pop), concord grape, with a bit of peppery spice. The wet aroma has winey fruits, purple grape notes, dark sweetness. The cup has a strong winey, Syrah-like grape note to it, along with a lush fruited sweetness with hints of pear and strawberry at some roast levels. There are backnotes of Earl Gray tea, with it's characteristic Bergamot citrus oil accent. There is a dash of cinnamon spice, and a milky body. The cup cools with sugar cane sweet notes. It's a complex cup, and does not have the shrill citric notes of some Kenya lots, which might make it attractive to some who seek Kenya intensity without the screaming high brightness! If, on the other hand, you do like super bright espresso as some of us at the shop do, we pulled some amazing shots of SO Gichatha-ini at FC and FC+ roast levels, with intense plum/chocolate pudding sweetness. Try it!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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James, the manager of Gichatha-ini factory, shows off the pulper. From my trip late last year.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District, Mathira Division
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Dark fruits, milky body, complexity
Roast: City+ roast to Full City is ideal for Gichatha-ini.
Compare to: Complex Kenya flavor profile, with spice and dark fruits, and without the screaming bright acidity of some other lots
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Kenya Nyeri Peaberry Kagumo-ini

Kagumo-ini is a "factory" (a coffee mill) that is part of the Mugaga Farmer's Cooperative Society. It's near Karatina town in Nyeri with average farms in the area at 1600 meter altitude, red volcanic loam soils (typical for the area), and other crops including tea, corn, and bananas. It's a typical cooperative in those respects, but the quality of coffee produced at this mill has been very high season after season. This is our only lot of Kagumo-ini for '09, but we have offered it nearly every year in recent memory. Consistent quality means a lot in the coffee trade! The cup on this peaberry lot, which I selected when cupping in Nairobi, is really sweet, delicate, and well-structured. The dry fragrance has outstanding caramel sauce and vanilla sweetness, like a ice cream parfait! The wet aroma has floral notes, jasmine, and vanilla. There's warming spice mix in there as well, and a small amount of citrus oils. The cup is a bit restrained for a Kenya (which is a nice break after some real "fruit bomb" Kenyas!) It has a pointed bright note, with a lime-like acidity, fading to spice-like aftertaste. At the lightest City roast, just through 1st crack, the flavors were a little tart and grainy in the sweetness, so I found a better cup emerging around City+ to Full City roast levels. There's a touch of lavender in the cup, herbal-floral brightness. It especially blooms when the cup cools down a bit, and a caramel-vanilla sweet syrupy flavor balances out the tangy bright high notes. The finish is delicate, with a very "refined sugar" sweetness, lemon-vanilla cookie. Overall it is not a hugely complex cup, more on the delicate end of the Kenya spectrum. I think, after tasting a bunch of powerhouse Kenya lots, that's a good thing!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Parchment coffee drying on raised beds, at the Kagumoini factory, near Karatina town.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District, Mathira Division
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2009 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Sweet, delicate aromatics, nuanced brightness.
Roast: City+ roast to Full City is ideal for Kagumo-ini.
Compare to: Delicate, refined, sweet
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Kenya Nyeri Ngunguru Peaberry

Ngunguru is one of three "factories" that form the Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society. A factory is a wet mill in Kenya that serves a particular micro-region. Ngunguru is interesting in that it brings has member farmers from both the Mt. Kenya slope and the Aberdare zone: It serves farmers of Thiu sub-location in Kirimukuyu in with the Aberdare on one side and Mt. Kenya on the other. It's a beautiful location, averaging 1700 meters, and the wildlife list I have for the vicinity lists snakes, deer, hare, weaverbirds, owl and hawks. I'll have to look for a weaverbird next time I am there! Tekangu is a really nice coop, with Tegu and Karagoto being the other 2 factories, and often nice coffees as well. But this is the lot that really impressed me. The dry fragrance has a spicy sweetness, with traces of vanilla and bing cherry. Later roasts I tested delivered a very sweet peach preserves fruit note. The wet aroma has citrus blossom, candy-like sweetness. It's quite intense! My lightest roasts of this coffee cupped out with such a dynamic, bright flavor profile, you feel like you just received that rindy squirt of citrus oil as you peel an orange. There's a tight, pleasantly dry mouthfeel ... bracing is a good description for this. Even while hot, floral notes are evident, a strong jasmine flavor. It's not a super sweet coffee, but quite complex. In later roasts I did, the jasmine quality was more like green Sencha tea flavor, slightly herbal, tannic and bracing, and had a very interesting sweetness like Stevia (the very sweet-leafed herb). It's a stand out lot in a year of stand outs! Amazingly for a coffee this bright, we pulled some amazing SO espresso shots with it!



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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The sign indicating the Ngunguru entrance, Mathira section of Nyeri
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Mathira, Karatina, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Grape, Blackberry, Currant, body, balance
Roast: A City to Full City roast, or just a tad more with one or two snaps of 2nd crack for espresso. Don't go beyond that level!
Compare to: Balanced, complete cup profile with moderate acidity for a Nyeri coffee. One of the only Kenya lots I have ever tasted that can work so well as SO espresso.
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Kenya AA Nyeri Ndaro-ini

Ndaro-ini has been a favorite from our last season, and I had the chance to visit there after we sold out of the vacuum-packed lot we offered through the holidays in '08. When I visited the mill, the wet-process coffee was all finished for the season, and it was time for the Mbuni (Buni) coffee, the dry-processed pickings at the tail end of the season. It's a true small-holder co-op, so all the farmer-members have 200 or 500 trees, some a generation old. The huge trunks are renewed with aggressive pruning every 7 to 10 years, stumped near the base to encourage new growth. It's truly a sustainable way of farming with long-term vision, and makes up for the fact that they must use some fertilizers and fungal control in Kenya. Organic coffee here is simply not a sustainable practice. Ndaro-ini is one of several coops that are part of the Gikanga Farmers Coop Society. I love this coffee! It is a super-balanced, restrained Kenya that works as a brewed coffee, sweet and resonant, and at FC roast, just to verge of 2nd crack perhaps, produces a beautiful, sweet, bright Single Origin Espresso. Yes, it can be done; Kenya as espresso! The dry fragrance has a resonant berry note, between blackberry and dark currant in character. It's sweet with vanilla and a cane syrup accent to it, and is not overly aggressive, floral or citric as other Nyeri coffees. The wet aroma has more of that syrupy cane sugar sweetness (turbinado sugar), Karo corn syrup too, and a grape candy-like quality. Again, a restrained sweetness and fruit abounds, not the "reach out and attack" type Kenya aromatics that are both so wonderful, but sometimes a bit over-the-top. Again, restraint, balance, body are all immediately impressive in this lot. Mouthfeel is creamy, which compliments the sweetness. Acidity is mild, concord grape, rounded, juicy, with plum and chocolate pudding flavors. Toasted bread notes mark the finish, with caramel, and a slightly winey finish. It's one of the sweetest Kenyas I have cupped this season. As espresso, it is bright, sweet, dynamic, and quite intense too. If you like a vivid and racy "alto" zest to your espresso, clean sweet and soaring in then high notes, this is for you. Mark my roast notes - don't get more than a snap or two into 2nd crack for the espresso, or even a tad before it.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Holding up a home made coffee bag at Ndaro-ini cooperative in Kenya.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival (Vac Pack)
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Grape, Blackberry, Currant, body, balance
Roast: A City to Full City roast, or just a tad more with one or two snaps of 2nd crack for espresso. Don't go beyond that level!
Compare to: Balanced, complete cup profile with moderate acidity for a Nyeri coffee. One of the only Kenya lots I have ever tasted that can work so well as SO espresso.
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Kenya Nyeri AA -Kagumo Coop

Kagumo is a stop along the road between the coffee towns of Karatina and Kerugoya on route C74 in the Nyeri district. It's also a cooperative of small-holder farmers with their own washing station (coffee wet mill), part of the Agathi Farmers Cooperative Society. Societies (as cooperatives are called) give the grower a choice to sell their cherry not just to the big private mills, but within the coop, and gain the added benefits, business assistance and loans, infrastructure and schools, etc. I happen to think they can produce better coffees than the big estates, at least more often than not. This lot was shipped to us in our new specially-lined bags, and on arrival the green coffee is fantastically fresh and has a potent aroma in itself. The fragrance (uh, from the roasted coffee that is) contains tons of sweetness, sugary, caramelly sweetness. From C to C+ roast it has caramel apple notes, and vanilla bean. The wet aroma is best in the lighter roasts, with (again) strongly sweet scents of cinnamon, vanilla and cane sugar. The cup has ripe, fresh orange juice, bright and sweet, laced with rose-like floral flavors. Cinnamon spice emerges in the aftertaste, and a twist of bracing orange rind as well. An almond roast note lingers in the background, paired with modest but substantial body. Roasting a bit darker, more pungent roast notes enter the picture, a bittersweet layer with the orange sweetness fading to the background. It may be a slightly more complex and aggressive flavor profile at FC-FC+ roast, but I like the bell-ringing clarity and brightness of the City-City+ range. The acidity of the lighter roasts isn't so bright as to be sour. It's a very drinkable Kenya in that regard.





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Cupping in Kenya late last year.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kagumo, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: August 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Sweet orange notes, modest body, spice hints
Roast: City to City+ is ideal, given the super sweet and orangey cup. I enjoyed FC-FC+ roast too, but the bittersweet notes seem to interfere a bit.
Compare to: Intensely sweet, and not too sour in the brightness.
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Kenya Kirinyaga -Karinga Peaberry

This is the second of two Kirinyaga peaberry lots we are offering this season. This lot is from one of the cooperative coffee societies, Kabare FCS in Kerugoya town, which give smallholder farmers an outlet for their harvest. There are quite a few Estates in the area, and while "Coffee Estate" sounds good, and in the '90s everyone wanted all their coffee to be "Estate" coffee, many in Kenya are owned by multi-nationals. It's good for small-holder locals to have the option of cooperatives, rather than selling cherry to large outfits. Anyway, we buy based on the cup, and this one is really sweet and compelling: The dry fragrance is of interest for some shifty little contradictions: sweet fruit, peach and mango, and then a juniper scent, piney, resinous, interesting! Adding hot water, the wet aroma has the same complexity between sweet fruits, tending toward strawberry, and a lively accent of spice at FC roast. The City+ roast clearly has the brighter fruited dimension, and the FC to FC+ is showing the more resinous side, juniper, spice. It's an interesting shift in flavors dependent on roast level. I get sweet orange marmalade as the cup cools and more jammy strawberry. Amazing how much better the Peaberry is from the AA (which we did not buy). Also, this lot was shipped with our special bags lining the inside of the traditional jute bag, and the green coffee has an amazingly fresh, vibrant smell. Overall, I like the rounded balance of this cup, with nice silky smooth body, and moderate fruit tones without the bright citrus notes that (while the mark of some excellent Kenyas) can be hard to drink on a daily basis. I think the lighter roast is superior, City to City+, with caramel sweetness and no grainy notes of light roast. But I did enjoy the slight pungency and spice of FC/FC+ as well.





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Coffee trees with ripening fruit, Kirinyaga district.
Country: Kenya
Grade: Peaberry Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kerugoya, Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ screen PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Split Personality, but so versatile too.
Roast: See notes above. City to City+ was the best cup for me.
Compare to: Rounded balance in the cup from this Kenya, without the citrus brightness of some lots.
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Kenya Kiambu Peaberry Ndumberi

Ndumberi Coffee Farmers Co-op Society is quite close to the capital of Nairobi in the Kiambu growing area, a region dominated by large privately held estates (some owned by agribusiness multinationals). The presence of cooperatives in this landscape is a testament to Kenya’s economic diversity, offering better options to farmers than other producing countries. And I must admit to the charm of any coffee which is phonetically called "Dumb Berry". The coop has three factories (coffee mills): Ndumberi, Ngaita and Riabai, and was formed in 1960, and was inaugurated by the founding father of independent Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, a source of great pride for the coop. At the time the society had only one factory with 432 members. Today the society has 3 wet mills serving a membership of 2516 whose benefit extends to over 10,000 families. The average number of coffee trees per farmer is about 200; these are true small-holder farmers! This is one of the sweetest lots, with a balanced acidity, and depth as well. The dry fragrance has perfume-like floral qualities, rose-water and white cake. The wet aroma presents a darker palate of smells, with plum pudding, concord grape juice, and sweet milk chocolate being the most recognizable. In the cup there is juicy green grape married to the citric brightness (milder than other lots, which are more acidic overall). The cup is transparent, clean, and walks a delicate balance between bright fruited notes and refined sugar sweetness. There is a hint of rind, pepper, and tannic tightness in the finish, which adds a bracing accent to an overall juicy cup. As I cup this, Ndumberi lot, I keep thinking that it boils down to one essential cause/effect relationship (and this cane be said about these new crop Kenyas in general): this coffee makes me smile! And it is nice to remember my visit to the region a month ago, that the pleasant qualities of this coffee are a direct result of the work of the farmer, the coop, and the coffee mill.





Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kiambu
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date:
Appearance:
Varietal:
Intensity/Prime Attribute:
Roast:
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Kenya Nyeri Peaberry -Mutwewathi Factory

Mutwewathi is a Coffee Factory (wet mill) in the farmers group called Gikaru. This is a typical Nyeri-region cooperative where the small-holder group of farmers operates several wet mills. (Thangathi is in the same Gikaru group, lots we have bought before). This factory is in a sub-region of Nyeri called Mukurwwe-Ini where I was earlier this year, although I didn't get to Mutwewathi in particular. Gikaru has a total membership of 1200 small farmers with an average of 250 trees each, and the altitude ranges from 1600-1800 meters. This peaberry lot was so attractive and sweet, with a dry fragrance of flowers and peach cobbler. In the wet aromatics there is a host of dark fruit notes, some interesting spice notes, a bit of clove, lemon, rose-scent and fresh flowers. The cup is very floral with cane sugar-like sweetness, and an apple-apricot compote flavor. It finishes with compelling pink grapefruit brightness when hot, milder as it cools. The body is light, and suits the crisp cup character. It's another delicious Kenya Peaberry coop lot of immense quality, in a year that promises to be filled with so many 90+ Kenya coffees (and Peaberries in particular).





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50 year old SL-28 coffee tree trunks in Nyeri region, from my last trip.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Mukurwwe-Ini area, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex, deep black currant sweetness, dense.
Roast: City+ to FC+ roast
Compare to: Complex cup, winey, darkly sweet.
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Kenya AA Auction Lot 639 -Gatomboya

Gatomboya is yet another Nyeri district "coffee factory," which does NOT mean they make mugs, custom hats and vacuum bottles. It means they are a coffee mill in a municipality, and member-farmers of this "society," i.e. cooperative, bring their fresh coffee cherry here for processing. It was an odd year because the name Gatomboya kept popping up in the auction samples I was getting from my sources, well, the main people I place bids with, and I wasn't liking them. You can see this from my online cupping log. But I was getting a few samples here from a different exporter and lo and behold, a fantastic Gatomboya appeared on the cupping table. We put in a high bid for the auction and won the lot. This is the usual story with Kenya lots: a name means something, and you might recall some fantastic lot from this season or that, but it doesn't guarantee top cup quality. Partly, this is due to the nature of coffee as a variable crop, but much has to do with the management of quality at the mill, and training for the farmer members. But back to this great coffee ...I will skip to the cup flavors here, because it has so much sweet tangerine, not a cloying citrus, but a mild-toned brightness. I also get ripe boysenberry notes, black currant jelly, and such a clean, fruited finish. Backtracking, the dry fragrance has strong berry notes, milky-caramel sweetness. Wet aroma is a bit more muted, mallic (apple-like), with a bit of almond. This is not the brightest Kenya lot, not the most acidic of citric, but the sweetness of the fruit flavors is unparalleled. Some may find this lot milder than other, but pay attention to the quality of these flavors, not just the quantity of acidity, etc. I am recommending a lighter roast range for this coffee as well.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Very sweetly fruited.
Roast: A City to City+ roast. I recommend keeping this one light!
Compare to: Very sweetly citrus-laced Kenya. This has lower intensity than other lots, a more delicate Kenya.
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Kenya Auction Lot #643 - Mutitu

Mutitu is a from a cooperative washing station in the very high-altitude Neryi district. A washing station is a wet mill, and coops are called "societies" in Kenya. It's also a so-called "lower grade" AB coffee rather than an AA. What does that mean? Not a lot . AB lots are 15+ screen, whereas AA are 17+ screen. So it's a smaller seed size, but in other origins we have consistently found that 15+ screen results in the best cup. So we ignore the size of the bean (you grind it all up anyway, what's the difference) and we focus only on the cup. In fact AB lots have received prices nearly similar to AA lots, and in many cases more, in this year's Kenya Main Crop auctions. This Mutitu has an amazing, winey fruited character that jumped out to me in the pre-auction cupping selection. The dry fragrance has plum fruit, and is fairly intense. The wet aromatics have a mix of tree fruits (as opposed to berry fruits and others), peach and plum most distinctly. The cup has great depth, while still quite intense and high-toned. C+ to roast levels have striking black currant flavors, slightly winey, with clove and other pungent spice in the finish. Often, this type of profile has a softer acidity and brightness, but Mutitu sort of hits you on all fronts.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen PB screen
Varietal: SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Winey, black currant cup character
Roast: The usual, City+ to FC+. I feel this coffee has a darker roast character at C+ roast than you might suspect, especially with a good 2 day post-roast rest. So err on the lighter side.
Compare to: Fruited and winey Kenya cup profile.
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Kenya AA Auction Lot #758 -Hiriga

Hiriga is a cooperative "coffee society" for small farmers located on the plateau around Mount Kenya, between the towns of Nyeri and Karatina. The region is on the leeward side of Mount Kenya and despite the forests, it suffers occasional drought during the dry season. In fact, coffee needs a dry season as much as it needs good altitude, temperate climate and well-draining soil. This area, and Nyeri in particular, is the locus of some distinct Kenya coffees, in particular, bright citrus/floral cup character. In this regard, Hiriga has plenty! The cup has an amazing balance between the sweetness of tropical fruit, and the sweet/sour notes of citrus. It starts with some very unique fragrances from the dry grounds: white cake and sweetly honeyed flower. There is a dark purple grape juice too, with dark currant. Adding water, the wet aromatics began to reveal the caramel/panela (brown sugar cake) aspect. There is bright lemon aroma from the City roast cups, and then grapefruit rind - very lively and nippy aromas, whereas C+ to FC has sweet blood orange citrus. What strikes me first in the cup is a very clean thyme herbal quality, but I don't get that as much as the coffee cools. Overwhelmingly, the flavor alternates between orange and a sweet lemon (I wrote lemon custard actually). The body is not heavy, but seems a bit creamy/waxy too. There is a range of tropical fruits in the flavor, especially passionfruits (passiflora), granadilla and maracuya (collectively known as members of the "booger fruit family"). In the finish, it remains lively, and the dark currant, raisin sweetness comes out. It is a classic Nyeri coffee in it's intensity, wild aromatics and brightness. I prefer City+ roast, which has a more brown sugar and caramel sweetness than the darker Full City+ roast I tried. It can take an FC+ roast or darker, but you end up with a Peets style of Kenya, a bit sweaty tasting.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AA
Region: Karurumo, Ngorano, Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late, Late June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/Tropical fruits, floral, intense
Roast: A City+ roast has the most lively cup, but see my notes above.
Compare to: Bright, citrus Nyeri-region Kenyas, but this one is refined and quite sweet too. +2 correction for refined cup qualities, floral and sweet fruit notes.
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Kenya Auction Lot #425 Karimikui Peaberry

In brief, here's another interesting Peaberry from Krinyaga district, a small lot, and an incredible bright cup. I know, there are so many Kenyas to chose from tis season. But this lot is a precious little pearl too (and not just because of the little round shape). The cup has a very sweet and floral dry fragrance from the grounds, with malt/sweet bread. The wet aroma is very sweet and citric with ripe pineapple, while in the cup this coffee is ruby red grapefruit all the way. Even the finish has that twist of citrus-grapefruit rind, giving it a more aggressive, twist-your-tongue effect as it passes from the palate. There's a hint of parchment dryness in the cup that emerges as it cools, and glazed almond roast tone at City+ roast. Surprisingly, there's a molasses sweetness at FC roast. This coffee can certainly hold up to a darker roast treatment, FC, FC+, a bit of 2nd crack, if the City-to-City+ roasts are too shrill, screaming, high-toned. But it's a shame to eclipse the true origin character, which is keyed in very bright octave, by masking it with roast. We cupped some AA and AB lots from Karimikui this season too, but none had this level of brightness and complexity. On top of that, it is very reasonably priced for an Auction Lot Kenya!





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Country: Kenya
Grade: Peaberry Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late June 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17 screen PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Split Personality, but so versatile too.
Roast: See notes above.
Compare to: Bright, lively Kenya in the light roast, aggressive and pungent Kenya in the darker roast range
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Kenya AA Auction Lot WP Decaf

Water process decafs have really performed amazingly well, and some of the brightest coffees, Ethiopia Yirgacheffes and Kenyas, have been among my favorites. Here is an Auction lot Kenya that has retained it's punctuated, bright character, which would be considered something of a miracle with the older water decaf methods. Normally, a Kenya decaf would come from a bulk lot, but in this case it is from top tier Auction Lot coffees, and I think it shows in the cup. But Kenya Auction coffees come in small lots, so to have enough to send to the decaf plant, 5 had to be combined. We initially had this as a peaberry lot - now it is just the regular beans - same coffee, same farms. They are: Tassia Coop from the Ruiru district, Giogio from Thika region , Fairview Farm from Kiambu area, Chania Coop from Thika, and Ndumberi from Kiambu. The dry fragrance is a bit odd (as are many decafs; they can be a bit incongruous with the cup flavors); it has a "canned fruit" aspect, but has nice orangey notes with strong caramel sweetness. The cup has a key lime brightness at City to City + roast, turning to a more ripe citrus sweetness at FC roast. And with a little more roast, the cup has a better balance between the bright notes and caramel sweetness. But C+ is where it's Kenya character is at it's best; unrepentantly bright! In both roast levels, there is a good malty note, and a complimentary spice; corriander and mild anise hints. When I recupped I felt the fruity citrus note was much more of a sweet Meyer Lemon than the more aggressive Key Lime I found initially, but this pretty much describes the range of brightness you can expect here. Mouthfeel is light and refreshing, appropriate for this bright cup, and there is a sweet floral aspect that is suggested in the wet aroma, and reappears as the cup cools.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: Auction Lots
Region: 4 growing districts (see description)
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: February 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Selection 28, 34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Extraordinary aromatics, sweetness, complexity.
Roast: City - City+: The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter. At this lighter level, the coffee won't look as pretty as it does at FC+, more surface texture and patchy coloration.
Compare to: Classsic super-high grown Guatemala. It reminds me of the El Injerto pure Bourbon.
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Kenya FT Peaberry - Kiawamururu (Nyeri)

The fact this lot is Fair Trade certified is groundbreaking, but may not mean exactly what you think it does. Fair Trade certification guarantees a minimum price to the cooperative (interestingly, it does not guarantee fair pay to the individual farmer, nor the picker/laborer). In the case of Kenya, it is odd because at auction we pay far more than their Fair Trade minimum, as we do with most every coffee we buy, but it does insure some standards are met in reporting the transaction, which is good. Anyway, the real story here is the outstanding cup. we have bought Kiawamururu (what a mouthfull) in the past, so it has demostrated itself to be good. This lot has such a pronounced aromatic, so potent it reaches across the room, and even across a good portion of the warehouse here! It has a savory sweetness. Oddly, it reminds of a Guatemala Bourbon cultivar, something I don't think I have every thought about a Kenya! (The old cultivars in which Kenya was planted were Scottish Mission and French Mission Bourbon ... is it possible some vestiges of the old types remain?) The aromas have berry hints; potent and sweet, with a bit of the savory, bouillion-like character. The cup is medium to light in body, crisp, defined, well-structured, and unabashedly citrusy. It's a bold citrus acidity here, with pink grapefruit character, but it is not overwhelming or sourish. Whereas many Kenyas have a prickly brightness and a citrus rind finish, the Kiawamururu passes from citrus to sweet quickly, with a relatively short finish (well, on the Kenya scale ... it's long compared to many other origins). The mouthfeel is bubbly, spritzy, effervescent. I am reminded of the Karatina lots from late last season, very refined cups with lighter body, elegant citrus and a sweetness. As it cools, the brightness is so apparent you can't miss it, with sweet, tangy, ripe Meyer lemon character. After many days of resting after roasting, I had an amazing lychee fruit aftertaste in the cup.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex, deep sweetness, dense.
Roast: City+ to FC roast
Compare to: A dynamic, bright, fruited Kenya with ample citrus.
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Kenya Peaberry Kirinyaga - Gakuyuini

Gakuyuini is a cooperative society from the Kirinyaga growing distritct, one I have cupped at least 4 times previous in the AA flatbean form in previous weekly Kenya auctions, and never bid on. I see from my notes, the best lot I cupped was in '04, which received and 87.3 for raisin and winey notes. But since then it hasn't broken 85, even in lot 408 AA from early this year. But this peberry was a different beast. Complex, intense, bright (of course). I was cupping with the stuptown boys that week, and we went ape for this lot, put in a huge bid to assure winning it, and split it down the middle (so you might be able to get this in roasted form from the our Northern friends). The winey character to the fruit in this coffee is true to the Kirinyaga cup profile. The dry fragrance only has a whiff of it; mainly I get bittersweet coffee notes from the City+ roast, intense chocolate and a bit of caramel sweetness too. It's difficult to read the aromatics. Add hot water and you sense that there's a complex knot of smells that are difficult to unravel; fruited, woody, raisiny, even humus. It smells a little like a vineyard. Breaking the crust on the cup reveals some red wine and clovey spice. In the cup it is winey, darkly and complexly sweet (meaning that the sweetness emerges among other flavors over time). It has dried black currant, berry, raisin, wood. As it cools the black current turns to blackberry. It's no Beaujolias; it's a Burgundy. The acidity is certainly apparent, but set back into the cup flavors, making this a moderately bright cup compared to other Kenyas. This is perhaps as "noir" as a Kenya gets.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Kirinyaga District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Complex, deep black currant sweetness, dense.
Roast: City+ to FC+ roast
Compare to: Complex cup, winey, darkly sweet.
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Kenya AA Nyeri - Kiamaina

Our first arrivals from the 2008 Main crop auctions are arriving. We started finding great lots about the same time the Nyeri region coffees showed up in the weekly auctions, not surprising. Nyeri's have been some of our top coffees. We basically bid direct in the auctions on lots we want via our import-export contacts, primarily since we are willing to pay a lot more for special lots that those who need to resell them. If we like a coffee, we want it. When we first tasted this lot in the pre-auction cupping, there was a unique Yirgacheffe-like flavor that emerged as the cup cools, a sweet floral and citrus character. It was not the most acidic, bright lot on the table, but definitely had the best quality of flavor. Now that it has undergone it's long ocean voyage to Oakland, that character remains as it's chief attribute. The dry fragrance has sweet spices, hints of stone fruit, and strawberry jam. Wet aromatics bring these smells into sharper focus: the fruit has more brightness, the spice seems more sharply sweet and piquant. Cup flavors? I have one term that describes this cup perfectly: Peach Nectar. This roast (C+) has the most perfect peach juice sweetness to it, and the body associated with nectar too, slightly pulpy, amazing. It has that peach-apricot acidity, not over-the-top citrusy, and the depth associated with ripe stone fruits too. The finish is quite long and (I repeat myself) very sweet and fruited. Peach, start to finish, peach. I've noted other flavors in the Flavor graph too; refined honey, raspberry, sweet cinnamon powder in the finish. As it cools the perceived acidity is higher, and has a zippy lemon twist to it. I did not try to determine roast flavors at FC+ since I feel like this coffee is so excellent at City +, why go on? At this stage, the batch has finished 1st crack and is square in the middle of the interstice between 1st and the first pop of 2nd crack. The lot was rested 24 hours after roasting. It's the perfect lot for those who want the liveliness and refined Kenya flavors without super-intense acidity.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Amazing peach and honey sweetness
Roast: See notes above. I recommend City+ roast, and it would be a shame to go much darker.
Compare to: Very sweet and elegant Kenya, with more moderate acidity compared to the super-citrusy Nyeri lots. This a milder lot than other Kenyas
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Kenya Thika - Gethumbwini Peaberry

Here's a name I was looking for in the auctions. We have had good success with Gethumbwini coffees in the past. There's no great shortage of lots of this coffee though. The farm is big, a true Estate. But many Gethumbwini lots I cupped have been lacking, and in fact I rejected a sister lot of the exact same coffee, shipped at the exact same time. That lesser lot had noticeable les brightness, and a slight hard, musty aftertaste. It just goes to show that this (like any agriculture product) is never a sure bet when you scrutinize it for quality at this level. However this lot came in stellar. It is from the end of the "Fly Crop" which is what a smaller second harvest is called in Kenya. In some areas there is little off-season harvest, but Thika area seems to have more considerable flowering and cherry, resulting in a mini-crop. Don't ask me to explain why they call it Fly Crop... It is a ripe, deeply-fruited Kenya, not they Nyeri type coffees that have screaming citrus brightness. The cup has an almost candylike sweetness in the wet aromatics, lushly fruited with a winey accent. There's an agressive finish too, a hint of herb and fresh leather. It's as if there is a slight Indonesia streak running through the finish of this cup. The City+ roast has a toasty caramelly quality in the aroma that comes right through in the cup flavor, with ripe red grape. Juicy is a descriptor that makes a lot of sense in characterizing the cup. My Full City roast seemed to have more body than lighter roast levels, and had more moderate, more winey acidity. I like the slightly darker roast,which had a more berry (blackberry) fruit quality to it. The finish on FC roast was blackberry syrup, very nice.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: "Fly Crop" Auction Lot
Region: Thika District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17+ PB screen, some flats
Varietal: SL-28/-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Ripe, bright fruit with winey accents
Roast: City+ or Full City. I enjoyed both but Full City most (the verge of 2nd crack without going into it) had a very deeply sweet aspect - the total package!
Compare to: One of those fruit-bomb Kenyas. Gethumbwini farm produces a lot of coffee, and some lots are quite flat … it was this particular peaberry that had bright, dynamic character. So we bought the entire lot!
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Kenya AA Auction Lot - Ndaroini

A Kenya for espresso??? I did not think it could be done, not with those levels of acidity, and with roast flavors that become acrid and burnt tasting at normal espresso roast levels; into 2nd crack, FC+-Vienna-French. But here is something of a wonder. A super-balanced, restrained Kenya that works as a brewed coffee, sweet and resonant, and at FC roast, just to verge of 2nd crack perhaps, produces a beautiful, sweet, bright Single Origin Espresso. Yes, it can be done. The second oddity is that we receive this Kenya out of season, when inferior fly-crop lots are all that is available, and the Main Crop '09 arrivals are months away. The secret; this is the first lot we have had vacuum-packed at origin in Kenya, and it cups fresh and vibrant as it did at peak of harvest. It will cup that way fr you as well, for may months. (Well, if you don't store it next to that leaky washer down in your basement, it will hold it's great character). The dry fragrance has a resonant berry note, between blackberry and dark currant in character. It's sweet with vanilla and a cane syrup accent to it, and is not overly aggressive, floral or citric as other Nyeri coffees. The wet aroma has more of that syrupy cane sugar sweetness (turbinado sugar), Karo corn syrup too, and a grapey candy-like quality. Again, a restrained sweetness and fruit abounds, not the "reach out and attack" type Kenya aromatics that are both so wonderful, but sometimes a bit over-the-top. I was very surprised how all 3 of my light roast levels (with a proper 2 day rest) produced incredibly palatable, balanced cups, even the very lightest City roast. (Many Kenyas are shrill that light). Again, restraint, balance, body are all immediately impressive; a markedly different Kenya than other Nyeris from this year. Mouthfeel is creamy, which compliments the sweetness. Acidity is mild, concord grape, juicy. Toasted bread notes mark the finish, with caramel, and a slightly winey finish. As espresso, it is bright, sweet, dynamic, and quite intense too. If you like a vivid and racy "alto" zest to your espresso, clean sweet and soaring in then high notes, this is for you. Mark my roast notes - don't get more than a snap or two into 2nd crack for the espresso.





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Raised beds for coffee drying, Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Jan 2009 Arrival (Vacuum
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28, SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Grape, Blackberry, Currant, body, balance
Roast: A City to Full City roast, or just a tad more with one or two snaps of 2nd crack for espresso. Don't go beyond that level!
Compare to: Balanced, complete cup profile with moderate acidity for a Nyeri coffee. One of the only Kenya lots I have ever tasted that can work so well as SO espresso.
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Kenya AA Auction Lot 526 - Tegu

Tegu is a name we know: we have offered occasional lots from the Tegu coffee factory (mill) in the past, AA lots, AB lots, Peaberries. They have the potential to produce great quality but not all Tegu lots are so spectacular. Another great coffee company, Counter Culture, is working with Tegu on a direct basis to improve quality, whereas we are supporting the mill via the auctions. By either method, it takes a process of selection to buy great coffees from a Kenya source: you can't just go by the name. We cupped at least 8 various lots this year from this mill, and bought this one in the Kenya main crop auctions. It is not the most complex Kenya, but the quality of the acidity, the bright liveliness in the cup, made this jump out from the other coffees in the cupping. The fragrance from the dry grounds is very sweet with cane sugar and caramel scents, and a bit of red apple. The wet aroma has warming spices (allspice, pepper, cinnamon) … cinnamon in particular. The cup flavors are dominated by apple and citrus in the bright acidity, which fade gracefully. There are turbinado (raw sugar) flavors in the finish, and apple skins. It's not a complex Kenya, but has outstanding, clean/clear fruited flavors. As it cools, the cup attains more balance, and the body turns from juicy to creamy. There are mild nut roast tones of toasted hazelnut. This is definitely one of the finer lots Tegu has produced through the years, based on my cuppings.





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Sorting parchment coffee near Nyeri.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/ Fruited, juicy, bright cup, medium body
Roast: A City to Full City roast
Compare to: Bright, citrus Nyeri-region Kenyas, sweetly fruited with moderate body.
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Kenya Auction Lot 738 -Marua Peaberry

Marua is another outstanding lot from the highest-altitude Nyeri district. It's from a particular cooperative (called a "society" in Kenya) that we have not offered before. But it really jumped out at the pre-auction cupping, and so we entered in a high bid for it. The dry fragrance is very floral, a bouquet of roses, sweet grain sugars, and some interesting light chocolate roast notes. (Chocolate is not a word I mention much with Kenyas!). The wet aroma has spice, cardamom and a dash of pepper, with a lot of stone fruit sweetness (peach, apricot, and a bit of plum). In the cup, it's those same trio of fruits that speak very clearly in the cup. It's very juicy overall, has a fairly light body, and the finish is citrusy (kumquat). There's a zest in the aftertaste I liken to citrus rind, and a moderate peppery spice there too. It's a very piquant coffee, zippy, lively, bright.





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Mt. Kenya in the distance.
Country: Kenya
Grade: PB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Dec 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 PB screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity/ Fruited, juicy, bright cup, light body
Roast: City to Full City roast. Our preference was FC.
Compare to: Bright, complex Nyeri-region profile.
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Kenya AB Auction Lot #786 - Rukira

If you leave the town of Nyeri in the district of Nyeri on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and you head south on C70, you will come to Rukira town very shortly, where this lot of coffee was milled. It is our very last lot of Kenya Main Crop auction coffee for the year ... meaning that new arrivals don't come until next April or so. We have cupped coffees in the "Fly Crop" harvest (that's the smaller off-season harvest that sometimes, just sometimes, has a decent lot or two). The results weren't good but there's still a chance when the arrivals roll in around February. Anyway, we bought Kenyas over a wide range of time, and this was from the last part of the harvest that still include the high grown Nyeri region coffees. It has a striking dry fragrance in both lighter (City+ roast) and darker (FC+) levels. It is both floral, with flame grape and slight winey fruit. And it has a black currant character at FC+, as well as more pungent, near-chocolate bittersweetness. The wet aroma has raw honey sweetness, ample fruit smells, and some unusual savory hints. There's nothing savory about the cup flavors though - lighter roasts have a juicy sweetness, fruit preserves, peach, strawberry, honey. Dark toffee flavors come out at FC+, raisin and black currant for fruit, and bittersweet balance in the roast tastes. It's not an overwhelmingly acidic Kenya; it has balance, and is easier to quaff; a good daily-drinker. It is also a very interesting coffee to "melange," meaning to blend a C+ roast and an FC+ roast. This resulted in my favorite cup, a longer finish with pleasant bittering components, but bright fruits and that honey sweetness I mentioned.





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Mt. Kenya national park, near the coffee areas.
Country: Kenya
Grade: AB Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: October 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-18 screen
Varietal: SL-28
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Honey, fruit preserves, dark fruits (FC+)
Roast: See notes above. City+ has the best bright fruit notes and honey, FC+ has darker fruits and bittersweets. A melange of these two roasts produced my favorite cup.
Compare to: Balanced Kenya cup profile with sweetness, fruit, and not too much acidity.
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Kenya AA Auction Lot 407 - Giakanja

Giakanja is a consistently unique coffee. It's a bit of a "wild one" among Kenyas. It is from the Nyeri district, where some of the most extraordinary Kenya lots come from. Nyeri has some of the highest altitude coffee, which means that the harvest peaks later, hence the late arrivals of good Nyeri lots. Many Nyeri coffees are highly acidic, with prized citrus notes: orange, lemon, lime, kumquat, grapefruit. But this Giakanja lot is quite different, heavily fruited, almost rustic fruit, as if there was just a bit of Indonesia herbal notes in there. Now to many cuppers, any suggestion of rustic or "Indonesia-like" cup character in a Kenya would raise red flags, and they would consider bidding on this lot in the Auction to be risky. But it is strange to me that the coffee trade will allow flavors that are a bit wild from one origin, and not another. Kenyas have historically had winey fruited notes, it's just that Giakanja has a bit more of Syrah type wine notes than other Kenyas. The cup starts with very sweet honey-caramel dry fragrance, which becomes more winey, chocolate and spice-laden at Full City roast. There's a big shift when you add the hot water. Light City and City+ roasts have incredible sweet floral-herbal aromas, with pink grapefruit and raw honey. The cup flavors are sweet in the light roasts, turning simply menacing and bittersweet as you reach FC+! It's Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde coffee, but in this case both "personalities" are extremely appealing. City to City+: cherry sweetness, orange honey, ginger root, and a herbal-floral accent combine to form a lively, effervescent cup character. It finishes with sweetness fading to a zest of lemon rind. At Full City and darker (Especially at FC+, a couple snaps into 2nd crack): Think Dark Shadows, Noir. There's a high contrast between sharp pungent spice, baker's chocolate bitterness, lingering dark caramelized sugar sweetness, and a stripe of Indonesian wildness running through the cup. A dark roast of this Kenya is a workout for your palate! In any case, it is one of the most versatile lots, since you the roaster have so much determination in the cup character: bright and zingy, with angelic bright notes, or heavy, aggressive, and corpulent ... you decide.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AA Main Crop Auction Lot
Region: Nyeri District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18 screen
Varietal: SL-34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Bold intensity / Herbal, floral notes, peaches in syrup, sweet, unusual.
Roast: See notes above. There's a hugely different cup that results from a light City roast than from a darker FC+ roast (a few snaps into 2nd crack). You can have it both ways Giakanja.
Compare to: Bright, lively Kenya in the light roast, aggressive and pungent Kenya in the darker roast range
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Kenya Auction Lot #829 Weithaga Peaberry

Weithaga is a cooperative coffee society and factory (that is, a coffee mill) in the Murang'a district near Kangema and Koimbi. We have had some nice Murang'a lots early this year and last season as well. And this lot really impressed me although I had not seen it come up in the auctions before, or cupped samples in the past. The dry fragrance is floral, citrusy and sweet. There's vanilla bean and some malt sugar (maltose) sweetness too. The wet aroma has brown sugar and caramel sweetness with a tiny hint of brewers yeast. There's spicy notes of nutmeg and clove too. The cup ... wow, ths coffee really opens up. Bright cranberry high notes are laced with sweet orange. Cinnamon and nutmeg spice adds dimension in the cup, as well as the sparkling, effervescent, dry acidity. It finishes crisp, citric and clean. Just as there are hopheads in the beer tasting community, this coffee is for those who unabashedly love high-octave coffees (I just want to avoid calling anyone an "acid-head" but yes, it has to do with the positive acids in coffee, citric, mallic, phosphoric, the chlorogenics, etc). The aftertaste is dry like champagne, and has lemon rind character. It's amazing, powerful coffee. As it cools, it has tastes like cherry drops (hard candy). I noted that there are some flat beans and tri-beans (when a single cherry has 3 seeds, and they form a wedge-shape like an orange slice). This doesn't effect the cup quality.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: Peaberry
Region: Murang'a
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: Sept-Oct 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: SL-28 (based on flavor profile)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/ Well-structured and complex coffee.
Roast: City+ to Full City. The roast darkens considerably at C+ and might appear darker than it really is. FC roast is quite a bit less dynamic, so try to keep this lighter.
Compare to: Moderate acid Kenya cup with good depth - initially masked flavors open up as it cools.
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Kenya Thika Chania - French Mission Cultivar

This is a very unique lot, a throwback coffee from a cultivar introduced over a century ago, a unique lot of Kenya coffee. It is not sold in the Kenya Auctions, but via direct purchase (which was not allowed until a couple years ago). It's called Second Harvest, and it doesn't necessarily yield better results ... but it allows buyers 2 avenues to get great coffee from Kenya. Most of our lots come through the competitive auction but this was bought by an importer who wanted to ensure they got all the coffee from this farm. The farm is from 1525 meters in the Thika district, from one private estate, Chania. French Mission Bourbon is an original cultivar, brought by French missionaries in the late 19th century from the island of Bourbon (now Reunion). (There was also Scottish Mission that entered via Tanzania in the south with ... you guessed it ...Scottish missionaries). The green coffee does have a different appearance than the excellent SL-28 and SL-34 from Scott Labs in the 1950's. The comparisons with Rwanda begin, since that country is planted entirely in old Bourbon cultivar. It looks somewhat like Rwanda Bourbon, and the cup has suggestions of it too. It reminds me of a very distinct Rwanda Bourbon, which makes sense in terms of the cultivar expressing itself here. There are vague hints in the dry fragrance of that heritage, balanced chocolate sweet/bittersweets. There are sweet desert-like hints with cake and vanilla aromatics. The wet aroma gives more clues, and the scents really "open up" more. Wet aromas feature more sweetness, some dark berry notes (blackberry) and traces of black current, with just a slight oaky quality. The cup flavors are interesting and a little confounding. It's a hard nut to crack, flavors in the hot cup are very compact and in a tight range, closed. But the flavors that emerge are unique. Again, there are dark berry, clean fruit, hiding behind an imposing and balanced bittersweet roast flavor. The term "well-structured" seems very appropriate, although I use it with some regret; you can taste or smell "well-structured." It's really about how the coffee flavors and scents interact, relate to each other. Fruity flavors that come from processing might be lush and attractive, but have that pulpy character, and are not part of a cup you would term "well-structured." The clean fruits here are more austere and less accessible, but deserve more respect and are more complex. Perhaps another approach is to note how different this is from other Kenya lots. It is not citrusy, not "berry-like" in that intoxicating Kenya kind of way. It doesn't have that prickly acidity, although it is indeed a "bright" coffee.





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Country: Kenya
Grade: AB
Region: Thika District
Processing: Wet-Process
Arrival Date: September 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon, French Mission type
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity/ Well-structured and complex coffee.
Roast: City+ to Full City. The roast darkens considerably at C+ and might appear darker than it really is.
Compare to: Moderate acid Kenya cup with good depth - initially masked flavors open up as it cools.
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Kenya AB Auction Lot WP Decaf

Water process decafs have really performed amazingly well, and some of the brightest coffees, Ethiopia Sidamo, Yirga Cheffe and Kenyas, have been among my favorites. Here is an Auction lot Kenya that has retained it's punctuated, bright character, which would be considered something of a miracle with the older water decaf methods. Normally, a Kenya decaf would come from a bulk lot, but in this case it is from top tier Auction Lot coffees, and I think it shows in the cup. But Kenya Auction coffees come in small lots, so to have enough to send to the decaf plant, 2 had to be combined. They are from Muranga and Neri districts, and are AB lots, meaning slightly smaller bean size than AA. The AA or AB grade has nothing to do with cup quality, and oftentimes an AB can be much better than an AA. The dry fragrance is unsually sweet, and has mild citrus (orange and kumquat) influences. Water process decafs often have an unusual syrupy sweetness, like a light cane sugar or molasses, and I get that in the fragrance here. The cup has a blend of citrus juices. Initially, it seems quite muted and mild, but it really intensifies a lot as it cools. There is bright and lively lemon (turning toward lime as it cools), and it has a hint of red grapefruit too. The mouthfeel is medium in thickness, and a bit doughy. This is an ideal coffee for drip brew, but might be a bit sour in decaf espresso, and even in the AeroPress. (I will need to test that, which I haven't as of yet). It finishes with a candy-like sweetness, and overall it is one of my favorite decaf arrivals in the books at this point!





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Kikuyu house in the coffee area, Kenya
Country: Kenya
Grade: Auction Lots
Region: 2 growing districts (see description)
Processing: Wet-Processed, then Water Process Decaf
Arrival Date: October 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Selection 28, 34
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-to-bold intensity / Extraordinary aromatics, sweetness, complexity.
Roast: City - City+: The coffee works at all roast levels, but with proper rest the complexity is at it's acme a bit lighter. At this lighter level, the coffee won't look as pretty as it does at FC+, more surface texture and patchy coloration.
Compare to: Milder non-decaf Kenya auction lots.
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