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100 miles east of Kansas City, Missouri, along the route of Highway 24, you’ll find a pecan the size of a UPS delivery truck. Here, at the confluence of the Grand and Missouri rivers, the fertile bottomlands produce not only roadside attractions worthy of Neil Gaiman’s attention (look for it in his latest work, Yet More American Gods) but also prodigious numbers of black-trunked pecan trees standing in sentinel rows as far as the eye can see. And each tree, in turn, produces prodigious pecans… Oh, they’re not the biggest in the land (that title probably goes to Georgia, despite the many-tonned concrete pecan’s hyperbole) but bite for bite, they’re the tastiest you’ll find anywhere. Nutty, sure… but also buttery, warm and sweet. By flavor alone you might mistake them for cashews… but they’re not one bit tropical, but instead Missouri’s favorite native… er, nut.
In a nutshell, friends and neighbors, this is the surprising flavor of Counter Culture’s Rwandan coffee offering — it’s a nutty, nutty bean. Sourced from the Koakaka coop, and processed at the very same Karaba washing station as Green Mountain’s very spiffy (and long gone) Rwandan Special Reserve offering, Counter Culture’s Rwandan is an exemplary coffee in every way: meticulous preparation, and expert and attentive roasting.
Just ground, the coffee offers the intriguing fragrance of coffee blossom and ripe, sweet pears. Brewing, its aroma tantalizes with notes of maple syrup and caramelized sugar. The cup’s brightness is well-controlled in the roast — some acidity has been traded for complexity and warmth — which I think is a good choice. Its flavor… nutty. Rich, toasty, buttery pecans… caramelized and sweet. Its roundish body carries the cup’s sweetness through the finish, leaving a departing kiss of honey and vanilla even as the cup cools.
If I sound a bit like I’m gushing… well, I am. This is a brilliant cup… the result of exceptional work at every step from tree to cup.
Highly Recommended. Now go buy some, already.
P.S. My thanks to Mark Overbay at Counter Culture for the sample… and to Peter G. for his excellent source work in Rwanda. Peter, Rwanda’s specialty coffee trade is much better off for your efforts… and so are we all.