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Cappa-Strega!

espresso

My new toy…ahem…I mean “Research and Development” purchase. Yep, she’s the one in the middle: The Bezzera Strega!

strega

oreti

I am very excited about our three East African Coffees coming in next week.

Check out what our importer has to say about them and the farms they come from:

Kenya Oreti Estate Naturalhttp://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/oreti-estate-natural-grainpro-1603

Kenya Chania Estate French Missionhttp://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/chania-estate-french-mission-grainpro-1633

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kochere Natural: http://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/yirgacheffe-3-kochere-1497

I’ll have detailed write-ups on these coffees next week. All I can say now from the samples is that these coffees take flavor profiles to a new level. Phenomenal.

Nothing much to say…baggy, wet cardboard, any hint of quality appeared then faded in an instant. Transient, dry, coffee. If I had to guess, I think they most likely bought up some old lots from a some big[ger] importers and offered reputable regions (Brazil Formosa, Ethiopia Lekempti, etc.) for roasters who care more about the name that’s on the bag than the bean that’s in the bag. Not this roaster. Goodbye Blackhive.

Samples arrived today from Blackhive, an importer that contacted me a few weeks ago wanting to send me samples. I don’t discriminate. Bring’em on!

I roasted up a Natural Ethiopian Lekempti sample and will be roasting the Brazil Fermosa tonight. A quick glance and any roaster could probably guess that the singled-out coffee in the pictures below is natural processed Ethiopian. True to form. However, he or she could also likely guess that that this coffee was evidently negligibly processed, as well.

I picked out these defects out (see  below) in a rather superficial sub-60-second examination (and put them right back in, of course). To the touch, they did feel dry and a bit light–not that desired raw, dense, slightly sticky, naked peanut feel. It also lacked that spring-ish, twangy smell of a freshly harvested lot of greens, especially dry-processed greens. However, having roasted them, I can’t say that they aren’t already quite aromatic, even only an hour after the roast. I recognize some of the classic fruit, some un-classic nut, but everything is somewhat muddled a bit in a mutingly generic dirt-like aroma. But it is certainly too early to make any definitive judgments. I’ll report back after cupping.

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Last night’s roast. Today’s Chemex/Kone cup (couldn’t wait to try). Already dang good. Looking forward to a couple days rest. Rwanda Rulindo. 300-5 min, 350-8 min, 385/1c-10min, 425/dump-13:30

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I’m really excited about the new coffees coming in. They are truly exceptional. Prices (retail / wholesale) are tentative (give or take a quarter). They will be finalized on the website by tomorrow evening: www.KifuBeans.com

Check out the links to our “Farm Friends.” We can trace most of our coffees back to the hands that harvested them. Sometimes this is not possible for a number of possible reasons. If you have any questions about any particular coffee, fire away! I spend an embarrassing amount of time obsessing…

Also, enjoy the new ‘Suggested Pairings’ at the end of each cupping evaluation :)

Ethiopia Kaffa Forest Estate, Organic Rain Forest Alliance $13.00 / $9.00

Region: Oromia, Jimma

Varietal: Heirloom
Altitude: 1,780m

Processing: Wet Process

Fragrance: Floral, cinnamon graham cracker, some spice

Aroma: Nice savory note is detected when water is added—coriander/cardamom, dark caramel

Flavor: Caramel, floral, coriander, dill sprig, slight apricot fruit and grapefruit citrus, a lot going on

Sweetness: Med

Body/Mouthfeel: [Heavy] tea-like, delicate but not thin, suited to cup

Aftertaste: Long finish, grapefruit emerges/sparkles as cup cools

Structure: Very complex, multi-layered, but each layer somewhat subdued, so very approachable. The savory component is nuanced but completes the balance.

Comments: This is a somewhat delicate, sophisticated coffee—deserves careful prep. Incredible SO shot, if you get it dialed in! Suggested pairing: Anything overtly pretentious.

Kenya AA Kichwa Tembo $13.50 / $9.50

Region: Kichwa Tembo

Varietal: Typica
Altitude: 1600m

Processing: Wet Process

Fragrance: Floral, caramel, unpronounced citrus

Aroma: Tart raspberry, grapefruit, floral, caramel

Flavor: Orchid, melon, raspberry, sparkling grape acidity

Sweetness: Medium, balanced to brightness

Body/Mouthfeel: Big body subdues brightness (in a good way), silky smooth

Aftertaste: High (bright) notes fade quickly, pleasant caramel lingers slightly, accurately

Structure: Holds together very nicely. Complexity kept in impressive balance

Comments: Mostly bright, lacks nuance while still hot, but complexity and sweetness unfold in layers at it cools. The high and low notes of tart berry, sweet melon, and caramel complement with added floral complexity. Unusual for a cup like this to have such a silky mouthfeel. Impressive to find a Kenyan like this that isn’t twice the cost. Recommended pairing: Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit [this coffee embodies the ideal synthesis of a dialectical profile].

Ethiopia Natural Sidamo $12.25 / $8.75

Region: Sidamo

Varietal: Heirloom
Altitude: 1500-1800m

Processing: Dry Process

Fragrance: Bowl of fruit—stone fruits, berries. Sweet (if “sweet” has a smell). Even unroasted sweet stone fruit is prominent!

Aroma: Adding water moves out of one-dimensional fruit basket. Apricot, cherry, a muted floral tone, caramel

Flavor: Stays true—berry, apricot, honeysuckle, caramel

Sweetness: Med+

Body/Mouthfeel: Smooth-to-silky

Aftertaste: Lingers sweetly, pleasant

Structure: Holds together excellently; unexpected balance for a multilayered natural

Comments: Fruit is pronounced—pronounced, not overbearing or one-dimensional. It is pronounced in the way a fruit-forward coffee should be pronounced, like a muscle car should have a pronounced engine but not a lousy paintjob. It’s got the characteristic fruit anyone looking reading about a natural Sidamo is probably looking for, but not to the exclusion of any supporting characteristic, i.e., it’s got a big engine but a mighty fine paintjob, as well. Floral component and a pleasant tartness picks up as it cools. Very clean for an Ethiopian natural, but clean so as to articulate its wackiness. Recommended pairing: Any Anthony Burgess novel [but don’t read too many Anthony Burgess novels…].

Java Estate Blawan $12.50 / $8.75 

Farm Friends: http://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/java-estate-blawan-1363

Region: Ijen

Varietal: Typica
Altitude: 1200m

Processing: Wet Process

Fragrance: Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. Never smelled dry grounds so distinctly vanilla-like, which is usually a generic descriptor roasters use when something smells “sweet” but indistinct J

Aroma: Adding water, vanilla, graham, damp sweet hay

Flavor: Vanilla turns more thin-ish caramel in the cup, tinge of smokiness (there’s the Indo rustic I was looking for), sweet melon (with rind), slight floral

Sweetness: Medium, suitable

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium, smooth

Aftertaste: Long, brooding, smoke becomes spice/clove

Structure: Very good. Simple profile but nothing out of balance, and the surprisingly long aftertaste stays together nicely.

Comments: This is what I imagine as the ideal early fall morning cup—a brooding noir cup, not overly complex but not boring. This is a coffee for those mornings when you’re irritable, when you don’t want too much or too little of anything, when you need a no-nonsense approach to life. A coffee for the realist having a cynical kind of morning. Recommended pairing: Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find or Shakespeare’s Hamlet, depending on your worldview…or the kind of day you’re having.

Columbia Primaveral Huila $11.75 / $8.50 

Farm Friends: http://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/asociacion-primaveral-acevedo-huila-grainpro-1359

Region: Huila-Acavedo

Varietals: 80% Caturra, 20% Columbia

Altitude:  1,300-1,700m

Processing: Wet Process

Fragrance: Milk chocolate, herbaceous

Aroma: Think chocolate dropped in mud in the fall, earthy but heavy chocolate tones, black plum

Flavor: Caramel in the cup(!), very much so—Dominates from hot to cold. Slight chocolate and plum and nuttiness, but could better be described as caramel with nuance (like praline candies!).

Sweetness: Very sweet

Body/Mouthfeel: Thick, roll it around on your tongue.

Aftertaste: Sticks around. Sticky caramel, hazelnut.

Structure: Uniform. Just simple, straight-forward goodness.

Comments: This is a crowd-pleaser and a snob-pleaser. This is the friend that everyone likes, even those who typically don’t people because they are too likeable. Not fake, not superficial. Just good right down to the core. This, BTW, makes a dang good SO shot or serves as a great base for an espresso blend. Suggested pairing: This one actually goes with a movie: The Truman Show.

Rwanda Rulindo $11.95 / $8.75

Farm Friends: http://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/rulindo-grainpro-1266

Region: Northern Province/Rulindo District

Varietal: Bourbon

Altitude: 1,800-2,100m

Processing: Wet Process

Fragrance: Roasted grain, sweet corn, herbaceous.

Aroma: Indistinct sweet fruit with grain, slight floral and herb.

Flavor: Very rich, creamy. Struggle to pin it down too specifically. Orange but not overly citric, orange-y grape-ish turns cranberry. Rich earth tones (this coffee screams: put me in a latte!).

Sweetness: Rich, bittersweet (good example of East African balance).

Body/Mouthfeel: Big body, molasses-like richness, silky-buttery.

Aftertaste: Lingers like a coat of paint. Hibiscus, cranberry.

Structure: Again, very nice example of how brightness should be balanced in an E. African.

Comments: This is one potent coffee. The [pleasant] potency of the aftertaste is unique. It’s just a deeply rich coffee, perhaps why it makes such an amazing latte—it punches through the milk. If you have a creamer crowd that you want to taste a distinct, specialty coffee, this is a good option. It doesn’t cower or compromise its integrity to cream! On its own, it is intensely deep, keeps you searching. Suggested pairing: Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.

Yemen Mocha Haraazi $18.00 / $14.50 

Farm Friends: http://cafeimports.com/beanology/view/mocha-haraazi-1430

Region: Haraazi

Varietals: Jaa’di, Tuffahi, Dawairi, Ismali

Altitude:  1820-2125m

Processing: Dry Process.

Fragrance: Wow. Tropical fruit bowl, blood orange, flowers I’ve never smelled… Exotic. (Nothing associated with a cat. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I wouldn’t bother asking. It’s a good thing…).

Aroma: Key-lime pie, graham, cream cheese (key-lime cheesecake on graham cracker crust?), intensely aromatic, creeps through the house.

Flavor: Laced in goodness but elusive in description, like that memory on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t bring yourself to articulate. Grasping here: Bourbon, oak barrel, cabernet, grape soda, lime-ade, orange blossom, crushed flower pedals.

Sweetness: Sweet like SweeTarts stored in a whiskey barrel. Pronounced but held in tension.

Body/Mouthfeel: Buttery to oily.

Aftertaste: Sweetness gives way to oaky, very pleasant dryness, like a nice, heavy cabernet.

Structure: Unbelievable.

Comments: Pardon the verbosity, but describing this coffee is like trying to put the beauty of the Sistene Chapel adequately into words (maybe a stretch, but words are more closely associated with sight than taste!). Every word that passes I feel I need to take back—they profane the dignity of this coffee! Yemens simply aren’t this clean. The typical dirty, leathery, feline-y tradeoff that comes with the wildly wonderful, complex and exotic character of a Yemen is missing. This is just wildly and wonderfully and exotically complex. Frankly, out here in Central Kentucky, I really don’t have a market for this price point (and 95% of the specialty coffee market is far more reasonably priced—and Lord knows in this industry high price ≠ high quality!), but I snagged a bag anyway (…secretly hoping I’d have the entire 150# to myself). On the one hand, I’d just as soon vac-pack it and keep it all to myself. On the other hand, this is the kind of coffee you want someone else to experience, like you would a sunset when the heavens turn to flame or a thunderstorm when all the world is swallowed with the bass of creation’s groans. So I figured there would be some out there who would want to discover the true potential of a Yemen. Who knows? If enough of consumers were enlightened to what a good Yemen can be, it might change the expectations, and if the expectations, then perhaps to the demand, and if the demand, perhaps eventually the supply. Imagine if all Yemeni coffees lived up to their potential! I’m sure you imagine that often… Anyway, suggested pairing: definitely Woodford Reserve Seasoned Oak Finish and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet…or Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment…or Hans Urs von Balthasar The Glory of the Lord (all seven volumes)…or Dr. Suess, the entire collection. See what I mean?!

Peru Cenfrocafe Decaf, Fair Trade Organic, Mountain Water Processed $12.50 / $8.75

Region: Cajamarca

Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Bourbon

Altitude: 1,300-2,000m

Processing [Decaffeination]: Mountain Water Process

Fragrance: Honey graham, slight dry raisin, nutty

Aroma: Raisin/plum, slight citrus, hazelnut

Flavor: Raisin, candied walnut, slight milk chocolate

Sweetness: Med+

Body/Mouthfeel: Silky, moving toward buttery

Aftertaste: Long-ish for a decaf, long enough that you wouldn’t think it’s a decaf. Pleasant and tight.

Structure: Nothing transient here. Everything stands its ground as though it hadn’t been stripped of its dignity.

Comments: I would believe it is a decaf, but I would also believe it is not. It is not muted and fleeting like so many. This will please the crowd without making them want to stay too long. Suggested pairing: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

Cupping notes forthcoming

Decaf (processed using a cane sugar solution!) Columbia Las Serranias (limited quantity)

Ethiopia Natural Yirgacheffe Kochere (limited quantity)

Sumatra Mandheling 

Ethiopia Natural Sidamo Chelfit (for now, all I can say is BLUEBERRY!)

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