It occurs to me, shortly after bemoaning the lull in new crop coffee arrivals, that I’ve got beans on my sample shelf that I’ve yet to find time to taste… and others that I’ve tried, found wanting, and wondered: was it the bean, or the roast that was the problem? [Note that my whopping ego will not allow me to consider that I might, myself, be an impacting factor.] In this episode, then, a tale of two Kenyans… one of which has lingered long untasted, and one that was tasted, and left to linger.
The first – from the sample shelf – comes from Steve Ackman’s Two Loons Coffee. Its mark is Kenya AA Estate Kimandi. Steve keeps a small inventory, I think… certainly he’s choosy about what he stocks. He has a knack for choosing well, or his tastes and mine simply follow a similar path.
The Kimandi is a complex, changeling cup… not only from start to finish as the hot coffee cools, but even from the beginning of the sip to its end. Ground, the coffee’s fragrance is slightly sweet and spicy, though it’s not particularly aromatic in the cup. The first sip is lively lemon and citrus – tart, but not sour. The Kimandi is fairly light in body [at least this roast is… you could likely tweak the roast for a slightly rounder cup] and its finish is lingering, and smacks of red wine and black raspberry. As the cup cools, the berry flavor is more pronounced. Mighty good stuff.
Kenya number two is from Tom Owens’s Sweet Maria’s: Kenya AA Karamundi. On recommendation of another home-roaster I bought five pounds before having tasted this bean. [A practice I do *not* recommend.] Having roasted it a time or three I’d largely given up on it… while its fragrance and aroma were both hugely promising, the cup itself was ultimately ashy and harsh.
This week I gave the Karamundi another go… this time bracketing three roasts between the completion of first crack and the onset of second. The lightest of these roasts still had a cereal, grainy quality. The darkest – quenched at the first tic or two of second crack – was, again, distinctly harsh. The middle roast, however; was spot on… despite the curiously dark color of the bean.
The Karamundi is a mildly sweet, acidy cup, with a heady aroma of roses and violets. Its flavors run to sassafras and vanilla – not unlike a cream soda. Its body is round and mellow; its finish is brief, and hints of lemon peel. While it starts fairly complex – unlike the Kimandi – the flavors in this cup are largely consistent as the cup cools, likely a result of its lovely, flowery aroma.
While each of these coffees of Kenya has something to offer, I recommend the Kimandi for its complexity, its lingering finish, and its ability to take any of a number of roast styles in stride, yielding only another way to enjoy a lovely, brisk cup.