Crown Jewel Kenya Muranga Gondo Triple Washed CJ1536 – 19KF0002 – 31120 – SPOT RCWHSE

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Flavor Profile Lemonade, blackberry, black currant, caramel, sweet, balanced

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Overview 

This is a traditional triple washed coffee from Muranga, Kenya produced by members of the Gondo washing station organized under the New Kiriti Farmers’ Cooperative Society. 

The flavor profile is sweet and charmingly bright, with notes of plum, caramel, watermelon, and nectarine. 

Our roasters found that the coffee’s slightly lower density (compared to other Kenyan coffees) responded well to a brisk but slightly more gentle approach to heat with high airflow throughout. 

When brewed, our team enjoyed the coffee across a range of pour-overs with consistent results. It’s going to be absolutely electric when it hits our Tasting Room bar as a featured espresso. 

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

A compellingly sweet and complex coffee from the underrecognized Muranga county growing region, this coffee from the Gondo washing station is our first 2023 Kenya Crown Jewel release. We fell in love with its excellent composition and charmingly bright flavor profile, recognizably Kenyan in style but with plenty of nuance. 

While there’s plenty of the expected citrusy notes – you’ll find frequent mention of lime, mandarin orange, and lemonade on our word cloud – our tasting team largely found the coffee more plum and peach-like in nature, with supporting flavors like watermelon, pineapple, mango, and guava, and even a few bright berry notes in the mix. The viscosity is incredibly silky, and its acidity, while both pleasant and present, is never out of balance. 

Unsurprisingly, our roasters and baristas all had a blast with these beans. Doris’ Diedrich roast screamed of peaches and cream on the cupping table, and Josh’s pour-overs and MJ’s espresso dials seemingly could not produce bad-tasting brews. We’re particularly inspired by its crisp, honeyed sweetness and zesty (but not overwhelming) fruity acidity, and hope you have as much fun roasting and brewing it as we did. 

 

Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger 

Gondo and its sister washing stations are in a unique pocket of Kenya. Western Muranga County runs directly into the upland Aberdare Mountain range on rich red volcanic soil ideal for producing some of Kenya’s best coffees. 

Muranga is an oblong county that sits between the industrious Kiambu County to the south and the most famous coffee counties of Kenya’s central province, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Embu, to the north. The Aberdare range contributes significant climate influence over this part of Muranga, keeping the vegetation cooler and well-respirated, in just the way Mt. Kenya impacts its neighboring regions to the north.  

Coffees from Gondo factory tend to be rich and tangy, with syrupy texture and tart stone fruit notes.
Individual farmers in these fertile foothills average 250 coffee trees each, and half-acre plots per family. The Gondo processing station, or ‘factory’ as they’re known in Kenya, is one of three sites managed by the New Kiriti Farmers’ Cooperative Society (FCS), an umbrella organization that centralizes management and marketing relationships for their member factories. New Kiriti has 2,469 farmer members across the three factories, 727 of which deliver cherry to Gondo. 

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 taken for granted — but for the most part Kenya continues to thoroughly wash and soak its coffees according to tradition. 

At Gondo, cherry is hand-sorted for ripeness and floated for density before being accepted and depulped each day. After the coffee is washed, it’s soaked in fresh water for long periods of time to stop sugar fermentation and clean the parchment. The coffee is dried over a period of two weeks on raised beds, which are carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control for optimal drying. 

New Kiriti FCS includes the Kayu and Kirimahiga factories along with Gondo. The society was founded in 1998 and retains its main office at the Kayu factory, 17 kilometers from Kangema town, in the Mathioya district of Muranga County. 

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

This is a classic AA from Kenya, with large and very controlled screen size being its primary physical feature. The coffee is a little lower density and higher in moisture figures than we often see from this area of the world, but well within “normal” specs for specialty coffees at large. It might need a little less heat than the average Kenya to get moving in the roaster, but you can probably still push it about as fast as you’d like to good results. 

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.  

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 (maybe) 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. 

 

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido 

If we ask around about the flavor profile of Kenyan coffees, we will discover some specific notes like savory, zesty, and winey. But Kenya has more, like this triple washed coffee from the region of Muranga Gondo that came with a colorful pallete of tasting notes. The first thing that catches my eye as I am looking into the Croptser notes is PEACH! In capital letters and the exclamation mark. Cupped an hour after roasting this coffee was super buttery with a great mouthfeel, among many other notes that I will share later.  

My roast was based on the numbers I got from green grading. The uniform size of the beans fell mostly between 18 and 19 screen size. In other words, that means an even roast. Then the moisture and density being in the average range let me know to take it easy with the option of stretching the Maillard phase. Usually, the density on Kenyan will come in high which makes the roasting process tricky as all the power is needed from the beginning, but in this case, I can start gently and stretch the yellowing using that 11% moisture to bring the delicate acidity, and getting sugars to bring the complex sweetness of a peach. 

I roasted this coffee on a 5 kilo Diedrich, as a 5.5lb batch, using 50% of the roaster’s capacity, and started with a drum temperature of 439°F and 50% airflow at charge. I worked the air from the beginning to the end of the roast, pushing 100% when the coffee started cracking at 7:18 minutes.  

I began with 100% gas, ran it for 3 minutes and then dropped it to 60%. Then I marked the color change at 303°F and lowered the gas again to 30%. I got 3:01 minutes of Maillard when the coffee started cracking. Other than adding the air, I did nothing more that watch the rate of change dropping consistently being able to finalize the roast within 1:29 minutes of post-crack development and a drop temperature of 392.8°F. 

Due to the Q course that was happening at the Crown that week, we needed to gather at the roasting lab and cup just an hour after I finished the roast. Since the coffee was that fresh I was a little hesitant, as with days of rest the coffee had a chance to open and show a better taste — but this coffee surprised me. Here are the notes from all cuppers: Apricot, a bit of passion fruit, fresh tart strawberry, kiwi, lemon juice, oranges, peaches, tea peaches, rose wine, sweetened cranberry, butterscotch, butter, hard candy, caramel, and overall, exceptionally clean. 

A rich and complex cup of coffee, with a silky body. Adding the air from the beginning to the end I believe worked simply great. 

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman 

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! 

Since Kenya coffee arrives twice a year, I feel like we just welcomed in some phenomenal lots… But this coffee from Muranga really knocks the ball into thirteenth gear (there are thirteen gears, aren’t there?). Clearly even just a few sips have thrown me for a loop, and the malic acid has me reeling in malapropisms.  

The coffee we’re confronted with here is very typical of many Kenyan coffees – super well sorted and, as an AA grade, quite large. As Doris noted, we’re due for some consistent development as long as we note the slightly lower density and slightly higher moisture content of this lot. Nothing to worry about! Still very reasonable numbers above in the Green Analysis section. I decided to use an even hand when roasting this coffee anyhow. 

With a charge temperature of 446F, P8 power, and F2 fan, I was off to a running start. Not too fast of a running start, however, as my rate of change never exceeded 32F/min. At peak rate of change, I increased fan to F3, then lowered my power to P7 as I marked yellowing at 3:50 / 322F. At 4:50 / 342F, I upped the fan speed again to F4, expecting the usual spike in rate of change right around 360F. In fact, the opposite happened, and I saw a totally wild drop at 360F which I held my cool through, as I knew it would recover. Shortly after, I decreased heat application to P6, then P5 a little after first crack. The result was a nice and even slope downward in rate of change all the way to drop, where I finished the roast with 16% post-crack development at 9:10 / 395.8F.  

This coffee is simply phenomenal. It does indeed scream PEACH at you right off the bat, but that clean fruit forward flavor is immediately balanced out by a butter brickle ice cream mouthfeel and flavor, with a touch of sungold tomato, a zesting of haw flakes, and some turmeric tonic to top it all off. I really wouldn’t do anything different to this roast to attempt to make it better, but it’s a flexible coffee, so I heartily approve of any experimentation you might do! 

Drink it as a drip. Drink it as an espresso. Chew on the coffee straight out of the roaster. I sincerely doubt you’ll be disappointed! 

Follow along with my roast here on roast.world: 

https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/OjC6s0R5MwoqDN6APTMpC 

Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Isabella Vitliano 

Our current Ikawa practice compares two sample roast profiles, originally designed for different densities of green coffee. The two roasts differ slightly in total length, charge temperature, and time spent between color change in first crack. You can learn more about the profiles here. 

Likely to be our only Crown Jewel Kenya of the season, this coffee is the cream of the crop (literally). Candy, apricot, passionfruit, caramel, blood orange, fresh heirloom tomato and buttered tart, this coffee is rich and zippy. To my surprise and Doris’, the Kenya tasted great on both roasts. Typically for the high-density coffees like a Kenya there is a clear winner, but this round of cupping had us a bit stumped.  

The low-density roast was soft, complex and had some lemon tea, buttered tart, lime zest and peach flavors in the profile. The high-density roast had a bolder feel to it with notes of date, lemon zest and sweet peaches. The acidity was pleasantly zippy with a silky mouthfeel. These profiles were not as different as we expected them to be, and as they cooled down they felt more similar.  

Both Doris and I ended up going with the high-density profile with its sharp acidity and complex sweetness. This coffee feels like it has a really wide range of high performance and I imagine that an espresso shot of this would be unmatched… 

You can roast your own by linking to our profiles in the Ikawa Pro app here: 

Roast 1: Low Density Sample Roast 

Roast 2: High Density Sample Roast 

 

Brew Analysis by Joshua Wismans 

The first Kenyan Crown Jewel of the season is always a special time around here, and our new coffee from The Gondo washing station in Muranga County has set the bar staggeringly high. This coffee is almost idiosyncratic in what you’d wish for in a Kenyan. Stone fruit, citrus, floral, and caramel sweetness are all met by a kiss of that classic Kenyan savory-ness, almost like the subtle signature of an artist on their canvas.

Sometimes, hopefully to astonishment, things just work out. Never would I expect them to, but I always try to practice gratitude when they do. That was the case when dialing in this coffee on pour-over. Right out of the gate this coffee was shining. We went with a coarser grind and a moderate dose. Kenyan coffees tend to be more soluble, which means grinding a bit coarser. Part of the joy of Kenyan coffees is the stunning clarity of acidity, so I chose the V60 to hopefully compliment that.  And compliment it did. Toffee, nectarine, plum, and berry all came bursting out of the cup. The TDS landed at a 1.36 with a 18.9% extraction. Seriously, if you buy this coffee, brew it like this.

Because the grind and dose worked so well on the first brew, we decided to explore the same recipe of a few different brewers. Our second brew tested how this coffee responded to a flat-bottom brewing device.  We chose the F70 from St. Anthony Industries. Resulting in a very similar TDS and extraction percentage to the V60, we found the flavor profile a bit sweeter and rounder, leaning more into raisin and apricot than  the tart-sweet peach and nectarine of the V60. Still an incredible brew, and we recommend it if you are looking for more sweetness to balance the acidity.

Our third brew was an immersion brew on the Clever using a similar ratio, but with a shorter bloom. After the bloom, we filled the brewer to the full water dose of 300g, and began draining at 2:00 minutes. The resulting brew length was 3:10. While immersion was certainly tasty, the acidity wasn’t quite as refined and gave off a bit more plum skin and melon rind than we enjoy.

Ultimately our recommended brew is with the V60.  Use a coarser grind and a moderate dose, aiming for a TDS of 1.36.  We promise you won’t be disappointed.

Espresso Analysis by MJ Smith 

Recipe 1: 18.5g dose, 39.1g yield, 31 seconds
Recipe 2: 19g dose, 41.9g yield, 28 seconds  

As anyone around The Crown building can tell you, I have been *very* eagerly awaiting Kenyan coffee season… and Kenya believe it?! It’s finally here! This coffee from the Gondo Factory in Muranga County is truly exceptional. Packed full of juicy, ripe stone fruit and citrus notes, wrapped up in a warm embrace of toasted nut and sweet chocolates, with just a dash of baking spice and florals, I can already tell this coffee is going to be a hit once it lands on our espresso bar here at The Crown in a few weeks.  

The first recipe I’m going to talk about also happens to be my favorite of the bunch. Weighing in at an 18.5g dose, 39.1g yield, and pulling at 31 seconds, this shot was truly “bonkers” as our Tasting Room Director Josh described it. Before it even touched our lips, we were nuzzled by its beautiful nose and sweet aroma. I tasted notes of cherries, brown sugar, lemon-lime, raspberry, and clove. Even though I wanted to drink it all myself, I shared some with the rest of the barista team, who picked up some additional notes of orange, blueberry, nutmeg, champagne grapes, dark chocolate, and Jordan almonds.  

Next up, we’ve got my runner-up favorite. With a dose of 19g, a slightly higher yield of 41.9g, and a pull time of 28 seconds, this shot was also truly delicious. It was a little heavier on the fruit and nuts than the previous shot, and maybe just ever-so-slightly less acidic. I picked up notes of toasted cashew, candied orange, milk chocolate, blackberries and cherries. The rest of the barista team tasted notes of caramel, lime, macadamia, florals, buttered popcorn, stone fruit candy, and black cherry.  

If you’re like me and also share a deep appreciation of Kenyan espressos, I think you’re going to absolutely love this coffee. If you’re not like me and don’t appreciate Kenyan espressos, I think you’re going to absolutely love this coffee as well. It’s one of those special coffees that has a little something for everyone to enjoy. The coffee I used for this analysis was 6 days off-roast, and I found it worked best with a low-to-medium dose and a slightly higher yield. Take it from me, you do NOT want to miss out on this one!