What goes into Producing Top Quality Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch.: Kenya is the East... Coffee?
By Chris Schooley and Aleco Chigounis
Kenyan coffees are masterpieces. They’re the total package. My favorite aspects of Ethiopian coffees are their Floral notes in coffee exemplify the connection between taste and smell. Describing the taste of a specific flower is near impossible...we always default to “it tastes like it... aromatics and Suggests a harmony and proportion of qualities, and implies mildness since no one quality dominates.: Balance is both an obvious and slippery taste term. It implies a harmony.... Colombian coffees are high up on my list for their weighted mouth feel and tremendous Sweetness is an important positive quality in fine coffees, and is one of five basic tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Savory (Umami). In coffee, sweetness is a highly.... The very best Kenyan coffees have all of these flavor components and unmatched Acidity is a positive flavor attribute in coffee, also referred to as brightness or liveliness. It adds a brilliance to the cup, whereas low acid coffees can seem... to boot. A few ideas are responsible for the phenomenon that is top Kenyan coffee.
Kenya Origin Fundamentals
1. The removal of the cherry and parchment from the coffee seed.: Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural...: I’d lay claim to the idea that Kenyan coffees are quite literally the cleanest coffees on the planet. Green coffee still in its outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying... in the Green coffee can be stored much longer than roasted coffee: Roasted coffee starts to lose its aromatics in 10 days after roasting. Green coffee can be stored months... facilities across the Central Highlands is pristinely white with no off coloring or tainting. Every last solid is removed from the parchment during what is the most extensive Wet-processing starts by removing the outer skin of the coffee cherry with a machine called a pulper, then fermenting the remaining fruit (with green bean inside) in water... in the industry with 2 fermentations, 2 washings and a soaking before the drying stage. The Flavor Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavor compounds. In the case... of these Kenyan coffees are as pure an expression of their varietal and terroir as any coffee you’ll taste.
2. Varietals: There is a lot of hubbub these days about varietal playing the most critical role in the flavor profile of coffees. I disagree. While certainly a critical component I’d lend a nod to micro climate, soil content and possibly even altitude to that of varietal. I mean come on, how similar is a Catimor is a broad group of cultivars derived from a Hibrido de Timor (HdT) and Caturra cross, highly productive, sometimes with inferior cup flavor. The main issue is... in Colombian coffee is highly marketed and widely available in the US. They have been largely successful at equating the name Colombian Coffee with "Good" Coffee. This is half-true.... to a Caturra is an Arabica cultivar discovered as a natural mutant of Bourbon in Brazil in the first decade of the 20th century, but wasn't studied until 1937. It... in Costa Rican coffee is typically very clean, sweet, with lots of floral accents. hey are prized for their high notes: bright citrus or berry-like flavors in the acidity,...? They’re two different flavor profiles altogether. There is more similarity to A coffee cultivar; a cross between Typica and Bourbon, originally grown in Brazil: Mundo Novo is a commercial coffee cultivar; a natural hybrid between "Sumatra" and Red Bourbon,... in Guatemalan coffee is considered a top quality coffee producer in Central America. Due to our proximity to Guatemala, some of the nicest coffees from this origin come to... and A mutation of Bourbon cultivar that appeared in El Salvador in 1949: Pacas is a natural mutation of Bourbon cultivar that appeared in El Salvador in 1949. It... in Honduran coffee was absent from the top ranks of the Specialty market, but that has changed. It has all the environmental factors on its side: soil, altitude, climate.... than there is to Caturra in those two countries. All of that said the Kenyan SL varietals are something special. As descendants of the French Mission, our Bourbon as we more commonly know it, these SL varietals have been bred and selected for their quality and disease resistance. When combined with the micro climates and soils of Mt. Kenya they provide a burst of fruit like nothing else coffee can provide us.
3. Packaging: The Kenyans, one particular exporter of note, are responsible for revolutionizing the Sealing coffee in an airtight container, with the air removed via vacuum. Green coffee and roasted coffee can both be vacuum packed to extend shelf life. In our... system as we know it in the coffee industry. Most coffees, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is in the forests of the Kaffa region that coffee arabica grew wild. Coffee is "Bun" or "Buna" in Ethiopia, so... being the glaring exception to the rule, have a lifespan of anywhere from 3-6 months. By lifespan I mean that they taste vibrant and fresh for that period of time. Most coffees with very few exceptions begin to lose their luster and develop a “A general characterization that cup flavors are diminishing in quality due to age of the green coffee, and loss of organic compounds. Before the use of inner lining...” or “woody” or “papery” taste after 6, 7, 8 months. Maybe even before that in some cases. The Kenyans have changed the game by perfecting their vacuum packaging systems and ensuring longer shelf life for their green coffees. As the new harvest begins crawling to a halt in the next month or so we still have beautiful, remarkably fresh Kenyan coffee to get roasters through the winter.
Roasting and Tasting coffees from Kenya
All of the things that Aleco mentions that make Kenya so remarkable and crystal clear with amazing flavor profiles also make them a pleasure to roast. High Grown, or HG, is a coffee designation that can mean different things in different countries. : High Grown, or HG, is the highest quality Mexican coffee designation..., immaculately prepared and processed well-bred varieties roast up evenly and beautifully and can be incredibly forgiving to a Hibrido de Timor abbreviated HdT is the interspecies hybrid of C. Arabica and C. Canephora (Robusta) that was found in Timor Leste in the 1940s. It has been... of roast profiles. The most common Kenyas for a long time were the AA’s, but now AB’s and Peaberries are quite prevalent. The issue was that many considered this “grading” to be just that, a quality grade, when in fact it is only a size separation.
Coffees from each of these grades can have the quintessential Kenya qualities, and while there can be differences between how a The Spanish-language term for Peaberry is the same for "snail". See Peaberry for more information on the single bean fruit of the coffee tree. A peaberry is the... and an AA take heat and move into and through first An audible popping sound heard during roasting. In coffee, one refers to "first crack" and "second crack," which come from two different classes of chemical reactions.: An audible..., they’re subtle differences since all of these grades have substantial The density of a coffee bean is often taken as a sign of quality, as a more dense bean will roast more with a better dynamic. The density.... The main thing with roasting a Kenya is that you want to really bring out the sweetly In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see... acidity while also showcasing the Creamy is a mouthfeel description indicating thickness and soft, rounded texture. See also buttery. or juicy (weighted) mouthfeel. Because of the brilliant acidity in coffees from Kenya, many roasters roast these very very light in order to try to promote it, but the truly sweet berry-like acidity beyond the citric lie just a little bit deeper into the roast and can even be still quite prominent in an Full City roast. In fact, very light roasts of Kenyas can be starchy with strong notes of banana An ester is an often fragrant organic or partially organic compound formed by the reaction between an acid (including amino acids) and an alcohol. They play a smaller... and citric A euphemistic term we use often to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. : A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee...., and malty and cereal-like in the Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We.... Full City roasts can be loaded with Caramel is a desirable form of sweetness found in the flavor and aroma of coffee, and is an extension of roast taste. Extremely light or dark coffees will... and cocoa or even tootsie roll type sweetness while still showing some berry-like acidity through to the finish, but City and City+ roast is an ideal roast level that occurs roughly between 425 and 435 degrees Fahrenheit in many coffee roasters with a responsive bean probe where First Crack... roasts are where these coffees truly shine. At the City+ roast level the fruited notes can have the crystal clear brightness with berry notes, tropical fruit notes from phospheric Many acids contribute to coffee flavor: acetic, malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc.: Many acids contribute to coffee flavor; malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc. See Acidity or..., or even sparkling white grape. The floral qualities of Kenyan can be intensely aromatic, and in some cases meld together with spice note, creating a floral clove flavor. In Kenyas with these spice notes, roast plays a large role in integrated those flavors into the whole experience in a way that that keeps them from being too percussive and instead add complexity to the sweetness.
One of the keys to a really well roasted Kenya lies in the drying stage of the roast. By doing a slightly slower drying stage at the beginning of the roast you can push the sweetness as well as help develop the How a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture, a tactile sensation : A major component in the flavor profile of a coffee, it is a.... You can also help the mouthfeel by making sure that you have a robust First crack in one of two distinct heat-induced pyrolytic reactions in coffee. It is distinguished by a cracking or popping sound in the coffee, and occurs between 390... but to not rush through it. The first crack is the point of the roast where the cellular structure of the bean is at its most elastic and there is a breakdown of the carbohydrates that lend themselves to mouthfeel.
I did some roasts of Peaberries and AB coffees from the same In Kenya, a "Factory" is actually a coffee wet mill (called a washing station in other parts of Africa) where the fresh cherry is brought for wet-processing. It... for this article, and without question the roasts with a slightly extended drying stage were not only more weighted in the mouthfeel, but this also lead to more expressive fragrances, aromas, and flavors in general. These roasts with the extended drying stage also where much more open and bright on day one out of the roaster than the roasts with a shorter drying stage. On day 2 out of the roaster the sweetness was intense and candy like. This is one of the most important things to consider when tasting Kenyas, that the coffees really need at least 2 days of rest out of the roaster to really show everything they’ve got and can continue to open up while retaining their brilliance over the next couple days as well.