Introduction by Chris Kornman
The Aberdares Mountains erupt from central Kenya, just west of the mountain that bears the country’s name. The forested mountain range also happens to be fertile soil for coffee, among other crops, and the coffees from western Nyeri county benefit from its particular ecosystem. This is one such coffee, grown by smallholder farmer members of the Othaya Cooperative, a collective of around 20 washing stations in and around Nyeri County. The county is bordered on the west by the Aberdares range, and on the northeast by Mount Kenya. In all of Africa, only Kilimanjaro tops the maximum elevation of Mount Kenya.
Our CEO & Kenya buyer Max doubled down with longstanding partners at the Othaya and Aguthi Cooperative Societies this season to create a limited selection of coffees that go above and beyond. In exchange for the highest price we paid for any Kenyan coffees this season, Red Cherry Project coffees undertook a number of extra steps to isolate and enhance the highest quality coffees. It’s a win-win scenario: we get great coffee, farmers get guaranteed pricing without having to wait for auction results.
Model farmers identified for exceptional performance were selected exclusively to participate, and asked to deliver only ripe cherries which undergo a secondary hand-sort visually and then a pre-fermentation soak (the first of three washes the coffee receives) to remove any low-density floaters before pulping. After an extended 72 hour fermentation and channel grading (the second wash) the wet parchment soaks for 16-24 hours in clean water (the third wash). In addition to the usual hand-sorting during parchment drying, the coffee spends time under shaded tarps prior to skin drying to help prevent damage from the sun, and once the parchment is fully dried it is stored in GrainPro packaging even before transportation to the dry mill.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
A classic Kenya AA, this coffee from the Ichamama Factory is 95% screen size 18+ and has a high density and low moisture and water activity. AA is traditionally the most valuable, and the 2nd largest traded screen size in the Kenyan auction system.
Built on common Kenya cultivars, this lot includes SL-28 and SL-34, produced by Scott Laboratories in Kenya in the 1930s. Regarded as the best of the SLs in terms of quality and resilience, both varieties are Bourbon derivative cultivars, though from different lineages: SL-28 was developed from a drought-resistant variety originally cultivated in Tanganyika, a territory that makes up part of modern day Tanzania; it’s generally considered to be of the highest quality but is not very productive compared to other commercial Arabica varieties. SL-34 is a Kenyan mutation originally found near Kabete, and excels at lower elevations. Both of these SL variants exhibit bronze-tipped leaves on the newest growth.
Joining the classics are two relative newcomers. Ruiru-11 was developed in the mid-1980’s as the result of attempting to make an SL-28 more productive and resistant to Coffee Berry Disease and Leaf Rust by crossbreeding with varieties as disparate as Sudan Rume (for quality) and Catimor (for disease resistance), among others. In response to qualitative feedback, the Coffee Research Institute retraced the steps to creating Ruiru-11, attempting to improve cup quality without compromising disease resistance. Since 2010, the new variety called Batian has trickled into production, and early results are promising.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
A very floral coffee with a classic acidity profile. The first roast had the complex acidity on the cupping table usually associated with Kenyan coffees. This is the type of Kenyan coffee I like to drink, but I wanted to explore the sweet side of this coffee as well.
In roast two, I wanted to draw the roast using less energy by lowering the charge temperature. I also delayed the heat application by 30 seconds. I seemed to be on target for a slightly longer roast until just before first crack where the coffee took on so much momentum that I was almost back on my original trajectory. Wanting to stretch the roast out, I lowered the heat just before first crack by a half click. The extra 27 seconds of post crack development time in roast two muted the acidity to more cooked fruits and introduced several sugar browning flavors.
I recommend keeping your post crack development time short and lengthening the drying or Maillard stage to increase development of this coffee if you are looking for jammy notes over bright acidity.
Roast one: Pink grapefruit, blood orange, honey, plum
Roast two: Blackberry, Lime, dark chocolate, lavender
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
This was a tricky coffee to roast, but the results were rewarding.
My first roast of the Kenya Nyeri Ichamama went very quickly, and seemed to have quite a bit of momentum. So much, in fact that I engaged P4 at 12:05, just five seconds after first crack. I only gave this roast 45 seconds of development time. In retrospect I could have given this coffee a bit more development, but in the heat of the moment this coffee was finished cracking and significant smoke was beginning to appear.
For my second roast, I deliberately attempted to extend the roast. I engaged P3 at 11:55, again five seconds after first crack (which was slightly later for this roast). I allowed this coffee to develop for 1:35 before removing the drum from the roaster and cooling manually (these days, I’m using the sample roaster cooling tray. A fan and a sieve work just as well).
There were only slight differences in the final stats of these two roasts. Roast 2 is a bit darker by Color Track number, and has very slightly higher roast loss percentage. The real difference was on the cupping table. Jen and Chris preferred Roast 1, noting grapefruit, plum, and floral notes. I preferred Roast 2 (and I should note that this was a blind cupping!) for juicy florals, lime tartness, and a clean finish. The aggregate scores were very close in the end, in any case. Try some different approaches with this coffee, and we think you’ll find your particular sweet spot!
Brew Analysis by Richard Sandlin
It’s rare to have two roasts on both the Probatino & the Behmor 1600+ at our disposal. This gave us the opportunity to compare & contrast two different roasts methods per roast machine. I kept as many variables as I could constant when brewing this gem. When brewing, I opted for 75 gram pulses of water – pouring 75 grams of water at a time, until I reached my desired final weight of 375g.
The four roasts are different in the cup – a few samples had a little more of one descriptor & not as much as the other. The surprising conclusion for me is the difference in extraction % between the Probatino & Behmor 1600+.
Does the way one roasts change the extraction %? Or is it the heating element inside the machine itself? Great questions. Due to the limitations of the Behmor, we will have to wait to explore this until after we enter our doors at The Crown and have more options to roast on.
There is a school of thought in brewing that coffee is best between 18 – 22% extraction. All of the below offer that. While the TDS & Extraction % are helpful, it’s important to remember they are just data points. Flavor is supreme. Taste the coffee & then run the numbers – at least that is what we do here.
This coffee may be available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.