Introduction by Chris Kornman
This peaberry coffee was produced at the Kiruga Factory, which is located adjacent to the Gikira River – a convenient location for a coffee washing station that might, for example, need a constant supply of fresh water. The Gikira draws its source from the Aberdares Mountains. 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.
Kiruga Factory is a member station of the Othaya Cooperative Society, a collective of around 20 washing stations in and around Nyeri County. The society consists of thousands of smallholder members who organize around and contribute to individual washing stations like Kiruga.
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
This is an unusual green coffee for a few reasons. First, the coffee is exceedingly dry, reading below 9% moisture in total content. Sometimes seen as a drawback, I find that overdry coffees that have good flavors intact tend to be more stable on the shelf. Secondly, it is extremely dense. This indicates to me that despite the dryness, it retained a high percentage of its structure and integrity through the drying process. These two factors – very low moisture combined with very high density – give me a fairly high confidence level in the lot’s ability to retain flavor.
If it weren’t strange enough already, the coffee is also a peaberry. This is a genetic anomaly, albeit an adorable one, that occurs at a rate of about 5% across all coffee harvests, give or take depending on genetic type and nutrient diet. It’s the result of a non-splitting seed during maturation – typically the seed inside the coffee splits into two “flat” beans that mirror each other. The peaberry, rather, is a single seed mutation that never splits. Valued in some places in the world (Kenya, Tanzania, e.g.), it can also be practically thrown out with the trash in others (like Brazil). Some roasters prize these lots for their intensity of flavor, others despise them for their non-standard heat absorption. In either case, this particular lot is a little small, mostly sized 14-15 with about 25% 16 and up.
Built on common Kenya cultivars, this lot includes SL-28 and SL-34, produced by Scott Laboratories in Kenya in the 1930s, and the more recent additions of Ruiru 11 and Batian. The SLs, generally highly regarded, ar both Bourbon derivative cultivars first found in the wild and then developed for commercial strains. Ruiru 11 and Batian were a little more focused in their development, and specifically Batian was crafted to match the high resistance and yields of Ruiru 11 but significantly improve its quality, which is perceived as inferior to the old Scott Lab strains.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
This large, dense and dry peaberry coffee did exactly as you might think: it really took off in the drum. My first roast, which is a profile that I do with many coffees, was extremely short. With same profile in the roaster, this coffee gained enough momentum to reach a temperature two degrees higher than the Kenya AA that I had just roasted previously in 2 minutes less time. Although this coffee was on the light side, it was incredibly dynamic and the acidity profile was robust.
In roast two, I decided to stretch the roast out a little bit and explore the sweeter side of this coffee by lowering the charge temperature and delaying the heat with a lower application that roast one. I was able to steer the curve into a more gentle ascension. I applied a bit more heat after the Maillard stage began and lowered heat just after first crack. The outside of the coffee appeared extremely dark for this roast, but once I color tracked the ground sample it was exactly where I wanted it to be. The citrus acidity still had an impact and was complemented by sweet jammy fruit tones making a balanced cup.
Roast one: Marmalade, pink grapefruit, pineapple, lemon zest
Roast two: Plum jam, figs, pineapple, tropical punch
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.
Jen found that this coffee moved rather quickly in the roaster, and I had a similar observation with the Behmor. This is certainly a coffee to watch in the Behmor, as it can really take off on you. As Chris notes in the green analysis, this is an abnormally dense and dry coffee. It’s also a peaberry; these are preludes to a tricky roast.
Similar to the other Kenyan offering from this week, the Nyeri Ichamama, this coffee cracked relatively early at about 11:50. The crack wasn’t quite as audible with this coffee, but it was popping nevertheless. I engaged P3 at 12 minutes, and developed the coffee for 1:30, which ended up being a little too long.
The Color Track numbers on this coffee were on the darker side, and there was a definite roast character to the coffee on the cupping table. Make sure to treat this coffee gently, and don’t be fooled by the soft crack!
Brew Analysis by Jen Apodaca
These two roasts differed quite a lot and, to be honest, I expected a larger discrepancy in the TDS numbers. But that must be why the Chemex is considered to be one of the more forgiving pour over methods in the industry. For the brew, I knew from the cupping table that this coffee packed a punch and my experience with high density coffees led me to believe that I should coarsen the grind from our normal chemex setting of 9 to 9.5 on the dial. With nearly identical specs, my brew times were close with roast two finishing slightly faster than roast one by 16 seconds.
While roast two was roasted longer and had darker colortrack readings than roast one, the roast finished at a much lower temperature. In addition, this particularly peaberry was extremely dense and did not lose much organic matter in either roast as seen with the 10.5% weight loss in roast one and 11.6% weight loss in roast two. Lately we have been noticing that “darker” roasts have been yielding less total dissolved solids and have a lower extract percentage, but this peaberry seems to have bucked the trend by a slight margin. Tasting Notes from both brews are included in the table below.
This coffee may be available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.