Introduction by Chris Kornman
This unique and delicious Crown Jewel comes to us by way of smallhonder producers growing coffee on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon, a massive peak split nearly in two by the border of Uganda and Kenya. The microregion is rife with coffee and is well-served by the Sipi Falls mill, a centralized washing station with the capacity for processing cherry and drying coffee to improve the value to local farmers.
Coffee producers in the region had been home processing their coffee (and still do), thinking it was a way to add value to their crops. Kawacom, the export industry that owns the Sipi Falls washing station, has gone to great lengths to sit down with producers and show them the time savings and added value (and quality) by contributing their unprocessed cherry to a central mill where washing, fermenting, and drying can be performed consistently with professional oversight. They have also started an example nursery with high quality varieties and provide agronomic support to the local smallholders, many of whom are families led by women.
In this special microlot (among the first Sipi Falls has ventured to produce) the coffee has undergone “Honey” processing, a hybrid processing method that strips the skin and fruit away but leaves the sticky mucilage surrounding the coffee in tact. Before this, however, the coffee cherries must be floated to sort for density and damaged seeds. After pulping, unlike with washed coffees, the mucilage-covered parchment is sent straight to the drying tables, skipping the fermentation tank and channel grading steps. After a full three weeks drying under retractable canopies and undergoing frequent turning to promote even, slow drying and hand-picking to remove visible defects, the coffee is ready to export.
This honey processing is the rose, any other name by which would smell as sweet… frequently referred to elsewhere in the world as semi-washed or pulped natural. So far as I can determine, it is Brazilian processing equipment manufacturer Pinhalense who stake the claim to creating the world’s first cereja descascado (literally “deskinned cherry”) in 1991 as a value-add alternative to the country’s traditionally dry-processed coffee. The pulped natural was a handy way to sell the local market a bunch of new equipment while offering an environmentally friendly answer to demands for washed coffees in dry regions.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Showcasing the high points of well-processed East African coffees, this Crown Jewel is drier and much denser than the average coffee. Screen size sorting reveals what, in Central America, would pass for a great European Prep, 97% between screens 15-18. A reliable heavy-hitter, this is a coffee that will perform best with plenty of heat applied during Maillard reactions leading into first crack.
The lot is comprised of Scott Labs selections 14 (increasingly seen in Uganda) and 28, both classic French Mission Bourbon derivations. SL14 is coffee berry disease (CBD) and drought resistant, and the SL28’s popularity in Kenya has been well documented. Jamaica Blue Mountain comes from the other side of the Arabica family tree: it is a Typica hybrid of indeterminate proportions originating in (you guessed it) Jamaica, but has been introduced in Africa via Kenya as early as 1913.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
This is such a sweet and delicious coffee that I put through the ringer. Roast one I applied high heat and slowly reduced throughout the roast and in the second roast I started with a low heat and slowly added more and more as needed until first crack. I really expected one of these roasts to fall flat, but both tasted lovely for wildly different reasons. Roast one, with all of the heat applied up front was floral and light with a high quality citrus element that reminded me of an excellent Ethiopian coffee. Roast two, which was propelled through the roast by increasing the gas has a syrupy sweet cherry pie quality. This honestly tasted like two different coffees.
Roast one: Jasmine, honey, lemon zest, wildflowers, caramel
Roast two: Black cherry, fig, vanilla, syrupy
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
The Uganda Kaproron Sipi Falls Honey Processed is a real screamer of a coffee. This coffee performed quite well, and took heat evenly in the Behmor. There was no mottling to the beans, or underdeveloped spots. In comparison to Jen’s roasts, the Behmor roast definitely emphasized the body in this coffee due to its long roast time and even heat application – but the sweet florals and tropical notes were in no way sacrificed! If you’re looking for a syrupy coffee with extra sweet and floral nuance, this is definitely a good choice.
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
This coffee was an absolute rock star, on the cupping table, and in the brewing basket. Our ‘notes’ sections for each tasting were overflowing, and we tended to refer to this coffee as being something like a washed Ethiopian… but with a little something extra. There was plenty of dimension to Jen’s two roasts, but we decided to work with Jen’s first roast that highlighted the light and bright qualities of this coffee, rather than the syrupy texture achieved in the second roast.
As you can see below, we tried this roast on both Chemex and Kalita. We found that we were able to bring out some very distinct notes with our brew method. This is an incredibly distinctive and nuanced coffee, and we found that the Chemex emphasized the textural notes, while the Kalita gave us more gentle floral notes (even at a stronger brew ratio!). My immediate guess is that this has something to do with the longer dwell time in the Chemex.
Down at the Crown, we unanimous in our enjoyment of this coffee in either method. It was difficult to save the small amount needed for TDS readings, as we chugged most of it immediately upon brewing.
Beware, this is the type of coffee that you’ll keep coming back for, even after you’re well caffeinated!
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.