Tasting: Kenya Gethumbwini Peaberry

Rating: [rating:4/5] So many Kenyan coffees of late cup heavy on citrus notes (lemon, and in particular, grapefruit flavors abound right now) so it’s a real pleasure — and a welcome change — to find a richly fruited coffee that features a different hue from Kenya’s vast palate (palette?) of flavors. Gethumbwini is a relatively rare single-estate Kenya, and this lot is something still more rare… a peaberry. And it’s an extraordinarily hard, dense peaberry bean at that, which translates into lots of versatility at the roaster. For this batch I found a sweet spot just this side of a Full City roast; there were just a couple vanguard snaps of second crack just as this coffee hit the cooling tray. Its aromas are opulent: blackcurrant and maple, chocolate, burgundy. In the cup it asserts its fruit in velvet hues — sweet black cherry and blackberry, a suggestion of sweet, dark chocolate. Its acidity is an ever-present winey undercurrent that rolls and tumbles in a silky body all the way through to its finish, which is mostly sweet, subtly tannic, and softly spiced. This is just the kind of coffee that makes home-roasting such a rewarding effort. If that’s not in the cards, it’s an origin well-worth seeking out at a roaster near you. (Psst? Anybody know somebody who’s roasting this bean commercially?) Highly Recommended. Available (green) from Sweet...

Tasting: Uganda Bugisu Mbale

Rating: [rating:3.5/5] Pondering my coffee cup, my thoughts inevitably turn to the land where the coffee was grown. And when that land is locked in a civil struggle I’m frequently curious and wary… Who grew this coffee? Which side are they on? Which side is right? (That’s rarely an easy answer.) And most importantly, are my coffee dollars part of the problem, or a potential solution? Uganda — five years since last mentioned here — is still a nation struggling for rule of law, for the safety of its children, for its identity and place on the world stage. Landlocked, Uganda is besieged by threats from without and within, and has been largely abandoned by most all of the world powers and much of Africa, too. There is no oil in Uganda (or there hasn’t been… it seems there’s some reserves only just discovered.) And so unlike the Middle East, instead of being on the brink of war Uganda is for two decades now on the brink of a peace that is always just out of reach. The coffee-growing lands of Uganda — butted up against Mount Elgon in the east — have been spared much of the struggle that’s come to define the nation’s north. In fact, it seems the only struggle of late that matters to the folks of MBale centers around competing soccer clubs. That’s a healthy sign. So too is the continued success of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority. In Uganda, success remains a relative term… but it appears that coffee farmers and processors are, in fact, the beneficiaries of coffee dollars. My last taste...

Tasting: FTO Ethiopian Sidamo

Rating: [rating:4/5] “You’ve already won me over-in spite of me. So don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet. And don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are. I couldn’t help it — it’s all your fault.” — Alanis Morissette I’m back at the roaster after too long away, working my way through a care package just arrived from Sweet Maria’s. First on my roast list, a dry-processed Ethiopian Sidamo. This bean is Fair Trade Certified and Organic, and it bears a familiar name — Oromia — the same coop that processes the Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe we roast at Green Mountain. I am head over feet for dry-process coffees… they’re simply one sweet surprise after another. Consider: First cup — Fragrance of coffee-blossom, strawberries and rhubarb with a hint of peaches. Aroma while brewing leans toward cherries, plums and leather. In the cup, apricot and peaches with a subtle undertone of cocoa. Finish is short and a little sharp (it’s practically just out of the roaster.) Second cup — More strawberries in the grounds, this time with blueberry, too. Brewing it offers dark jammy notes and leather. In the cup it’s blueberry, and more blueberry, and a hint of saddle leather. Finish is longer and sweeter and it leaves some caramel on the tongue. Third cup — It’s rested now, and coming into its own. Distinct notes of raspberry and peach in the grounds, more peaches and spice on the brew. In the cup, cloved peaches, bittersweet chocolate and a finish that’s a little flinty, a little gamey and a little wild....

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