Roasted Pairings; Ethiopia Vs. Kenya

Our final pre-holiday roast session is a head-to-head battle: which is the brightest, most dynamic, sweetest, most attractive coffee in Africa. How do the clean, vivid wet-process Ethiopia coffees stack up against the ripe fruit-bomb Kenyas? For this I chose the latest arrivals, both stellar wet-process lots: Ethiopia Organic Wet-Process Kebado and Kenya Auction Lot 738 -Marua Peaberry. Both roasts were quite light to maximize the intensity of the bright end of the spectrum. Ethiopia was roasted to a mere 420f using a slow warm-up profile with first crack ending at 415 or so. I think we can call this a true City roast, and a good one at that, with no bready or grainy light roast flavors. Marua had less mositure content and was roasted carefully to 380, temperature dropped to ensure entering 1st crack slowly, and finished at 426f, a City-City+ roast. Interestingly, the Kebado is one of our vacuum-pack projects, shipped in boxes from Ethiopia. It definitely had more mositure in the coffee and needed more time in the early part of the roast, whereas Kenya is a typical jute (well, sisal in this case) coffee, shipped in fiber bags. I noted that the Kenya 1st crack was at 398, a little early, and Ethiopia Kebado was at 406f. Since cross-origin cuppings are something I do nearly every day, the interesting differences in these 2 lots isn’t as dramatic to me; what strikes me in cupping these side by side is how wonderfully aromatic they BOTH are. Kebado’s citric and floral aromas are stunning; Marua fills the nose with ripe, red fruits, slightly winey in character. It’s interesting to compare the Ethiopia’s Meyer Lemon sweetness, with a slight rindy accent, to the slightly deeper tonality of the Kenya fruits. In general, I feel the Kebado is closer to perfection (in the review I call it a competition-winning type coffee), but these are definitely 2 very, very special lots, and I hope they spark some commentary, and inspire a few holiday smiles in your world… -Tom