Flavor Profile Pomelo, clementine, vanilla, juicy
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This is a traditional double-washed coffee from Embu, Kenya, produced by smallholder farmers organized around the Ngurueri Factory (wet mill), which is managed by the Murue Farmers Co-operative Society.
The flavor profile is citrusy, spiced, and complex in its sweetness. We tasted cinnamon, vanilla, orange, and honey.
Our roasters found the coffee could take plenty of heat early in the roast, and encourage you to allow the rate of rise to dip a bit as you approach first crack.
Our baristas tested the coffee on a variety of pour-over devices and found a unique and flexible flavor profile on each, and recommend it for pour-over, batch brew, and espresso.
An unusual mix of flavors, this coffee from Embu county’s Ngurueri factory stopped the show with its lively acidity, strong spice characteristics, and complex sweetness.
Did we taste citrus in this Kenya? Yes, of course, but that’s hardly the whole story. Lemon, grapefruit and orange all made appearances on our cupping notes, but there’s much more to explore here.
Our barista team made a full meal out of this coffee, walking it through multiple brew methods to test its limits. Certain extraction profiles favored cinnamon and cardamom notes, while others turned up flavors of earl grey tea, peach, and sweet basil.
Ultimately, though, it was the sweeter brews that really stuck with us, showcasing elegant vanilla-floral characteristics and generous reminders of honey and brown sugar.
Ngurueri “factory,” or washing station, is located near the town of Kianjokoma in Embu county, one of central Kenya’s smaller counties that shares part of the vast outer forests of Mt. Kenya, along with Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties to the west—two of Kenya’s most famous for quality. Individual farmers in these fertile foothills average 250 coffee trees each, and half-acre plots per family.
The Ngurueri processing station, or “factory”, as they’re known in Kenya, is one of three sites managed by the Murue Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS), an umbrella organization that centralizes management and marketing relationships for their member factories. Murue FCS has 3 additional factories under its management: Kianyangi, Kavutiri, and Gituara.
Kenya is of course known for some of the most meticulous at-scale processing that can be found anywhere in the world. Bright white parchment, nearly perfectly sorted by density and bulk conditioned at high elevations is the norm, and a matter of pride, even for generations of Kenyan processing managers who prefer drinking Kenya’s tea (abundantly farmed in Muranga county) to its coffee. Ample water supply in the central growing regions has historically allowed factories to wash, and wash, and soak, and wash their coffees again entirely with fresh, cold river water. Conservation is creeping into the discussion in certain places–understandably in the drier areas where water, due to climate change, cannot be as taken for granted—including at Murue FCS where 2 years ago all factories replaced their disc pulpers with “ecopulpers”, models which use far less water to depulp and clean parchment.
At Ngurueri, cherry is hand-sorted for ripeness and floated for density before accepted and depulped each day. Fermentation occurs overnight, after which the coffee is washed in long cement grading channels, where it is agitated with fresh water and allowed to separate by density, producing 4 final grades of clean parchment. The coffee is then dried over a period of 9-15 days on raised beds, which are carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control for optimal drying.
“14CE0001” in the title refers to this coffee’s “outturn” number. Outturn numbers are unique microlot codes that are given to each and every batch of parchment delivered to dry mills from individual factories or estates anywhere in Kenya, and are the units on which Kenya’s entire microlot export system is built. Outturns in Kenya are tracked with a shorthand code that places the specific batch of parchment coffee in time, place, and sequentially with other coffees. Outturns are stylized as an 8 or 9-character code, including a 2-digit “coffee week” number, a 2-letter mill code, and a 3 or 4-digit intake number for the coffee’s delivery. This particular code accompanies the lot throughout the entire journey from factory to export to ensure full traceability.
Kenyan coffee across the board is unequivocally some of the best-sorted coffee on the planet, almost regardless of the exact source. This is likely due in part to the influence of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, Kenya’s infamous auction system which still exerts authority and standards despite the introduction of a second window allowing direct trade beginning in 2006.
This is an ideal AA grade Kenya by the numbers, with over 90% of the coffee filling the 18-19 screen sizes, and basically zero visible defects. Unlike many of the other Kenyan coffees we’ve seen this year, it has high density readings both manually measured and using the Sinar. The coffee has a great moisture percentage, and the water activity by comparison is slightly elevated but nothing that should impact shelf life or quality.
The usual cultivars are all here: The oldest of these are SL28 and SL34, selections made in the early days of cultivation from legacy Bourbon and Typica populations which were suited to growing conditions in Kenya. More recently Ruiru 11 and Batian have entered the fold and are proprietary hybrids integrating the genetics of more than a dozen separate varieties in order to improve quality, yield, and disease resistance.
Roasting trial on Crown Jewel Kenya Kianjokoma Ngurueri Double Washed. Things to take into consideration, this coffee came with big size beans, mostly on the 18 and 19 screen size, high density (751) I needed to run the Sinar several times to make sure the reading was correct. I got an average moisture on this coffee that I feel happy to roast on 10.8%
I approached this coffee with what I consider a high charge and high gas power (450F/100%) on the 5 kg Diedrich we have here at the crown, with a batch size of 5.5 lbs. I have spent 3:50 seconds on the drying phase. Turning point happened at 1:28/203F that pushed the roast to get into color change at 3:50/305F. Exactly right after color change I start gas movements, first to 60% and a little later to 30% and I opened the full airflow as I was getting close to 360F. I hit the first crack with a high rate of rise, (30 per minute) and I feel like I should shut off the burners, but it was not necessary, rate of rise start dropping and I give the coffee 1:20 seconds of post development with a dropping temperature of 397.5F for a total of 7:05 roast time. ColorTrack reading 60.74 for the whole bean and 52.09 for the ground coffee. I was looking to bring all the juiciness of this coffee and I did not get disappointed, here the cupping notes: Dried fruits, grapefruit peel, intense, nectarine, nutmeg, orange, savory, spices, and of course the sweet tart tomato. This is what I got with my fast roast, I was really happy with the approach I did, and I recommend not to be afraid, this coffee is really dense.
Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.
Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing!
There’s really nothing like roasting a fresh coffee from Kenya. Consistent results from incredibly consistent milling practices make for such a nice time in front of the barrel. I’ve found that the tight distribution of screen sizes also leads to first crack at a lower temperature, meaning there’s more room for exploration in post-crack development.
Anyhow, I started this coffee off hot at 455F, P8 power, and F2 fan, but almost immediately lowered my stats to P7 and F3 until turning point, where I returned to P8 and F2 for about a minute. Once it hit 31F/sec RoR, it was easy to keep this coffee going, and I reduced heat further to P6 and increased fan to F4 quite early at 3:00 / 300F. No matter, this coffee kept trucking right along. My RoR seemed to be getting dangerously close to collapsing at 6:40 / 325F, so I reduced airflow to F3 for one minute where I should have stayed the course. The result was a bit of a spike of RoR going into first crack. At 7:40 I returned to F4 and decreased power to P5, increasing to F5 at first crack to really pull through any smoke generated at the end of roast. With a RoR of just 7F/min, I gave just a touch more power after first crack to get this coffee to a final temperature of 392.5F.
I do like a lighter Kenya, but I’ll be honest and say this one suffered a bit from that late-stage increase in RoR. This manifested as sort of an umami flavor of soy or milky black tea. This wasn’t the predominant note by any means, but it was certainly present. In the cup, I got peach, nectarine, cocoa powder, and juicy ruby red grapefruit. Not a total loss by any stretch but stay the course even if your rate of rise is low – this coffee will continue through to first crack without too much assistance.
This coffee would do great as a filter drip, but I could see a roast finishing above 400F doing very well as an espresso. Super sweet and juicy, this is a stone-fruit-forward Kenya with plenty of cranberry tartness to keep things interesting.
We’ve been spoiled by the pristine, delightful washed coffees coming in from Kenya over the last couple of months, and this new lot in from the Murue Farmers Cooperative Society was a particular joy to play with on our pour-over bar! We explored its contours through brews on the flat-bottomed Kalita Wave, the hybrid (conical-flat bottom) Bee House, and on the conical Hario V60. It was hard to limit our caffeination with this one, as we were tempted to chug each of the delightfully nuanced brews. With complex, layers of flavor, this coffee could be nudged in some really fun flavor directions, with hints of chocolate, citrus, apple and stone fruits, tropical fruits, teas, florals, and spices. It was easier to clean up and highlight specific fruit notes on the conical and hybrid brewers, so I want to focus in particular on my favorite brews with the V60 and Bee House brewers, with some extra contextual information from the other brews.
Pulling out the V60, we started with a dose of 18 grams of beans and ground them at a 10 on our EK43. We tried additional brews on the V60 with the same dose ground at a coarser 11 and an even coarser 12 on the EK43. All were brewed with the same ratio, water dose, and brew pulses, and the initial V60 brew with the tightest grind was one of the sweetest we tasted. It had dominant, syrupy, tropical fruit notes of guava, pineapple, and kiwi, as well as a juicy note of pear, and hints of cocoa, fudge, oolong tea, and a lovely floral vanilla note. Because of the high TDS and extraction percentage, we tried coarsening the grind, but found it lost some of the dynamic fruity notes, as notes of vanilla and cinnamon came to dominate over softer notes of peach and apricot.
Playing with a similar range of grind sizes on the Bee House brewer, we found we could go coarser while still receiving a rich, layered brew. An initial brew—dosed with 18 grams of coffee and ground at an 8 on our EK43—yielded a brew dominated by notes of blackberry, strawberry, brown sugar and cardamom. As we coarsened the grind for our brews on the Bee House brewer, we were able to detect more elegant tea notes, a more floral kind of citrus evoking bright yet soft lemon zest or a sweet, mellow clementine, and a rich caramel-honey sweetness. There were still notes of cinnamon and vanilla, as well as whispers of cola, orange candy, and malt. This brew was soft, sweet, and chuggable.
While you can get a really sweet, clean brew with a coarser grind and a faster-draining conical brewer, or a heavier, chocolate-y brew with a flatbottom brewer (like the Kalita Wave), a hybrid brewer can take this coffee to a sweet spot that is clean enough to feature the softer floral and spice notes while still featuring the lovely fruity and chocolate notes that make a more layered, complex harmony. I’m already lobbying to share this coffee with the public in the tasting room, as it makes a dynamic offering for pourover or batchbrew, and could be a really fun coffee to dial on espresso. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!