The Republic of Malawi is a long, narrow country near Africa’s eastern shoreline, located south of Tanzania, bordered to the west by Zambia and mostly surrounded on its southern borders by Mozambique. Much of its eastern border is actually along the shores of Lake Malawi, the southernmost African Great Lake. Lake Malawi is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world, including 700 species of cichlids alone.
Along the hills that dot the countryside, coffee, tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and tea are grown. This lot contains coffee from two of the northern growing regions, a mix of microlots grown by smallholders. The Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union, established in 2006, is home to nearly 3000 farming families, members of their local cooperatives, each with its own centralized washing stations.
If you know Malawi coffee, then you probably know the country is primarily growing two disparate cultivars. The highly prized Ethiopian variety Gesha was brought to Malawi sometime in the early or middle part of the 20th century, at least in part due to its resistance to fusarium wilt (a fungal disease that affects a plant’s ability to transport nutrients through its veins). Gesha’s high quality potential and low yield are contrasted with the Catimor varieties grown throughout the nation, presented here as Nyika, a Malawi dwarf variant of Catimor 129.
The green coffee is graded AA/AAA, and is distributed mainly between screens 17 & 18. The coffee is quite dry and has a very low water activity, not uncommon in East African arrivals, and the density is fairly high.
This coffee is seriously a treat with its punch-like acidity and sweetness. It surprised and delighted everyone at the cupping table with its clean and sparkly structure. The two roasts are extremely similar, with the first roast just 47 seconds shorter in total roast time and one degree higher. The drying time percentages of each roast are very closely aligned. Roast one had a higher percentage of post crack development, while roast two had a higher percentage of the Maillard stage.
Roast one (green): black cherry, chocolate cake, basil, lemon
Roast two (yellow): orange marmalade, dried fig, honey
Colleen brewed this coffee in a Kalita with our friend Ana, the founder and roaster at Abanico Coffee Roasters in San Francisco, while they tried a number of tasty ratios, the crowd-pleaser seemed to trend towards a finer grind, low relative dose, and higher extraction percentage. It offered plenty of caramel sweetness, fresh cream mouthfeel, and the distinct flavor of dates.
If you’re attending SCA Expo this year, visit us at the Roaster Village’s booth #9 on Saturday – you can try some of this coffee yourself, as roasted by Abanico!