Cupping the Shrub Rwandas at Roast House 

We’ve been very excited about the reception to the coffee from Rwanda that we’ve brought in this year. Any time that we have a collection of coffees like this we think it’s a great idea to put them all together and look at them ourselves in a couple different ways as well as share them as a group with others and see what the reaction to them is.

We’re always thrilled to have conversations with roasters about the coffees we offer, it’s always been about more than just a simple transaction with us, so we were incredibly happy to see some roasters all over hosting cuppings in order to look at these Rwandas. Roast House in Spokane, WA hosted one of these cuppings and so I reached out to him to see what the reaction to the coffees were.

Coffee Shrub: What spurred you to look at the Rwanda sampler?

Aaron Jordan: At Roast House, we have started a program of limited release coffees that are exceptional and uncommon to go along side our staple blends. These have included coffees from Congo, Ninety Plus, Malawi and when I heard that Rwanda’s were coming in, my interest was perked. Then I read the descriptions and the high esteem that was placed on this years coffees by the Shrub team, so I had to get samples and taste for myself.

CS: How many folks turned up for your tasting?

AJ: There was about 8 people at the cupping, 2 of them were experienced cuppers and the rest were a mix of baristas and coffee geeks.

CS: How did you set up the cupping?

AJ: I set it up blind. I was leaning towards one of the coffees in particular just by looking at the descriptions online so I cupped blind as well. I had cupping sheets which a good majority of the people used. I set-up 3 cups per coffee and prefaced the cupping by telling everyone that the coffees were all from the same origin but differing areas. I did not tell them what origin so there were no expectations.

Coffee Shrub Rwanda coffees cupped at Roast House
Coffee Shrub Rwanda coffees cupped at Roast House

CS: What were the general responses to each of the coffees? Was there a favorite?

AJ: Response to #1 (and these are in the same order as you sent them): Lively citrus in the dry and wet aroma, meyer lemon/candied orange peel in the cup, vibrant yet a pleasant resinous mouthfeel that added to the sweet effervescence of the acidity.

Response to #2: Fresh vegetable garden in the dry aroma (beets, grape tomatoes), the wet aroma turned a little sweeter and more fruit-like but there remained that natural, on-the-tree type fruit characteristics. In the cup that fresh, natural fruit came forward even more with a slight tartness to the berry that was prominent in the cup.

Response to #3: Orange rind in the aroma (almost like the rind of citrus more than the sweetness of the peel). In the cup it was pleasantly full-bodied and one of the more balanced cups in regards to dynamic. The cup morphed into a rustic sweetness, not like Indonesia-rustic but if African coffees could have a more rustic edge this coffee would characterize that well. Honey and raw sugar would be how I would describe that “rustic sweetness” which made it stand out from among the pack even more so. The finish was like a spice-shop with a hint of green raspberry on the back end.

Response to #4: Fruit cocktail in the aroma, sweet and vibrant with a sugared aspect to it that had my vote as a favorite by the first sniff. The cup did not disappoint, juicy, orange, bergamot, nectarine, so clean and delightful. As it cooled the body turned tea-like, like the bitterness in Russian Caravan yet that fruit-forward sweetness offered a balance that played an incredible dynamic in the cup. Towards the finish, vanilla bean with the ever-persistent vibrancy of sweet citrus.

After the cupping, we debriefed and discussed each coffee. It was a unanimous vote, which rarely happens, everyone enjoyed #4 the most (which happened to be the one that I was leaning towards prior to even receiving the samples anyhow). I revealed which coffee was which as well as the cupping notes you had attached. All the coffees were fantastic, but the Gitesi took it hands down for everyone at the table.

CS: Thanks so much Aaron and Roast House!

for more about coffees from Rwanda check out this Fundamentals article:

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