Flavor Profile Pink grapefruit, peach, blackberry, lavender, brown sugar, juicy, clean, candy-sweet
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This is a traditional double-washed coffee from Nyeri, Kenya, produced by smallholders organized around the Rumukia Cooperative Society.
The flavor profile is very sweet and full of ripe fruit tones like plum, blackberry, and lemon, with notes of caramel, black tea, and melon.
Our roasters found this coffee best when roasted with plenty of heat, and emphasize that while it can easily handle the lightest of roasting styles with panache, it’s equally graceful at darker roasts due to its high sweetness.
When brewed, our baristas noted lots of sweet spice and ample body in multiple pour-over iterations, and a “zinger” of an espresso with autumnal flavors that shone beautifully regardless of extraction parameters.
Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman
It doesn’t happen every Kenya season, but when it does, it sends a shiver up my spine. Coffees like this don’t come along very often.
The funny thing is that we almost missed it. We usually look for single washing-station day lots when sourcing microlots for Crown Jewels. While small in quantity, this coffee was sold to us as a multi-station blend from a tiny cooperative society… and so it flew under our radar.
That is, until we cupped it, and it just jumped off the table. This is exactly my kind of Kenyan coffee: while I appreciate the acid-forward profile – those electric, face-melting, grapefruit candy coffees – I also fear I’ve mellowed a bit over time and prefer a generous sweetness in my daily cup.
This coffee is sweet. My first impressions were “deep peach, blackberry, lavender, overripe melon, and sweet tropical fruit.” You know the kind of sweetness. The summer stone fruits you eat over the sink straight from the farmers’ market. The canary melons so lush, sprinkled with tajin. The wild blackberries, plucked straight from the vine on your hike around the lake.
I think of this as a summery coffee, perfect for a flash-iced pour-over, and able to handle the lightest of roasting without imbalance… and yet its decadent sweetness is capable of withstanding the darker shades with just as much grace.
We’re going to serve it briefly as our light roast drip option here at The Crown. The rest is reserved for Crown Jewels, packed up in 22lb packages, shipping to your doorstep.
Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger and Chris Kornman
We found the quintessential Kenyan coffee in this little microlot – it’s a classic Nyeri (maybe Kenya’s most famous coffee-producing county), it’s a peaberry, and it’s fantastically delicious.
Rumukia – or New Rumukia Farmers Cooperative Society – is one of Nyeri’s smaller coop societies, at just under 1200 members and three washing stations aka factories: Thunguri, Gaikundu, and Kagunyu. Their 2022-2023 harvest intake was reported at 224,300 kg of coffee cherry, roughly 188kg per member. If we use a typical 18.2% cherry-to-green weight conversion, that’s just 34.2kg, or about 75lbs of finished exportable green coffee per member.
Rumukia is also one of the region’s oldest societies, beginning their operations in 1979. Processing here happens in much the same way as it has for decades, with a unique post-processing clean water soak acting as an additional washing step. This procedure has two-fold benefits, in that it can pragmatically help to delay moving coffee from the pulpery to the drying tables if there is a limitation on available drying space, and it also provides a measure of quality improvement identified by academic researchers and coffee tasters alike.
Mt. Kenya, at the helm of Kenya’s Central Province, is the second tallest peak on the continent of Africa and a commanding natural presence. The mountain itself is a single point inside a vast and surreal thicket of ascending national forest and active game protection communities. The central counties of Kenya extend from the center of the national park, like six irregular pie slices, with their points meeting at the peak of the mountain. It is along the lower edge of these forests where, in wet, high elevation communities with mineral-rich soil (Mt. Kenya is a stratovolcano) many believe the best coffees in Kenya, often the world, are crafted.
Nyeri is perhaps the most well-known of these central counties. Kenya’s coffee is dominated by a cooperative system of production, whose members vote on representation, marketing and milling contracts for their coffee, as well as profit allocation. The economics of smallholder systems are consistently difficult, and in Kenya in particular the number of individual margins sliced off an export price before payment reaches the actual farms is many, leaving only a small percentage to support coffee growth itself, and most often this arrives many months after harvest. However, Kenya coffees are sold competitively by quality, which means well-endowed counties like Nyeri achieve very high average prices year after year, and the smallholders here with a few hundred coffee trees at the most, plus additional land uses available and local job markets, are widely considered to be middle class.
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 nearby 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—but for the most part Kenya continues to thoroughly wash and soak its coffees according to tradition. The established milling and sorting by grade, or bean size, is a longstanding tradition and positions Kenya coffees well for roasters, by tightly controlling the physical preparation and creating a diversity of profiles from a single processing batch.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Who doesn’t love peaberries? The objectively adorable little seeds, which form as a single embryo instead of the usual two inside a coffee cherry, often represent around 5% of a given harvest. In some areas of the world, they’re given special reverence simply for their shape and size. Here at Royal, we recognize a good one after tasting it. And this is one!
Great specs here, as usual – a nicely prepped peaberry blend from three washing stations in Nyeri county. It screens out on the large size for PB, at mostly 16+, with a surprising range all the way up to SS19. Don’t let the wide variance bother you, however, the coffee roasts as consistently as any peaberry we’ve come across. Otherwise the coffee is nicely dried and just a touch above average density.
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 1930s 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.
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido
This is an overtly complex coffee to taste. Syrupy body with soft caramelized sugars on top rounds out the delicate zesty acidity. This peaberry coffee has become popular in the building even before hitting the bar, where it will become our light roast offer in the next few weeks.
As usual, for roast analysis we used 5.5lbs on a 5-kilogram Diedrich roaster.
Kenyan coffee usually benefits from good application of heat and the use of air during the roast. And on this roast, I used it all and ended with super simple roast applications.
I started my batch with a hot drum using 444F charge temperature and added 50% air right away, with 100% gas power that I ran for 3.5 minutes, dropping to the lowest (30%) just before the color changed. That was enough energy to keep the roast going, and I increased the airflow to the maximum at 355F, entering first crack at 375.5F at 6:45. The total time of development was 1:36, at the end temperature was 393.7F. From all the team cupping at the Crown here are the tasting notes the next day: Black cherry, black tea, peach, plum, a little lime zest, Meyer lemon, almond butter, blackberry, blood orange, cantaloupe, citrus blossom fragrance, honey, mild herbal, nectarines, orange juice, pear, red grape, rosemary, and rosewater! Just a complex coffee from Kenya that can be roasted easily with amazing results.
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!
On Doris’ recommendation, and confirming my suspicions, I decided to approach this coffee with high heat from the outset, and to taper off burner application while successively increasing fan speed throughout the roast. I do enjoy Kenyan coffee of any stripe, but I know from experience that their high density is accompanied by such an excellent sorting of screen sizes that first crack approaches sooner than expected in almost every case. Therefore, I find it incumbent to ramp back on heat application earlier than I might on many other coffees.
This roast progressed fairly well, moving from a peak rate of change of 37F/min to about 9.5F/min by the time the batch was dropped. I reduced airflow early in roast to really let the coffee heat up in the drum, then moved back to F2, followed by F3 right at yellowing. Right at 365F, where I usually see a peak in rate of change, I hit F4 and experienced a big drop that recovered quickly to about 28F/min. I reduced heat application to P6 at that point, and the coffee moved into first crack about 20 seconds later. After another 20 seconds, I reduced heat to P5, generally the lowest I go in the course of a roast. While I didn’t get quite as much time in Maillard as I usually like, this roast came out much better than expected, especially considering the small spike in rate of change (if that’s a metric you ascribe to).
Plain and simple, this is a phenomenal coffee. The first thing that struck me was a cinnamon candy note that really only hit me upon freshly sipping. This sweet, rather than spicy flavor was immediately by blackberry and sparkling acidity, followed by a brown sugar finish topped with just a little candied violet crumble. Old Rumukia eat your heart out.
Personally, I love these types of coffee on filter drip, and this one was especially beautiful in the Chemex. You’re going to have a very hard time making this coffee taste bad! I could see this as being particularly sweet as an espresso as well, but as coffee from Kenya tends to be incredibly soluble, a more voluminous shot with a faster extraction will likely serve you well. Take a look at MJ’s notes below for more detail!
You can follow along with my roast here at roast.world:
Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Isabella Vitaliano
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.
Kenya is known for punchy acidity and tomato undertones that make it hard to miss on a cupping table. While those attributes are part of what makes Kenyan coffees so iconic, this peaberry from Nyeri will show you that you don’t need to fit into the mold to be just as delicious. On the first pass the team got notes of plum, peach, black tea and black cherry. Other honorable mentions include rosewater, orange juice, blackberry and cantaloupe.
With Doris’ help we took a look at both our high-density and low-density roast profiles. Our high-density roast was first on the docket, and this came to fruition in the form of apricot, melon and mild caramel.
The low-density roast had a slightly toastier edge with dark chocolate, lemon tea, orange juice and warming spices. This roast felt mildly astringent, but the body held up nicely as it cooled.
Both Doris and I preferred the high-density roast. The acidity was nice but not punchy, and the flavor notes were slightly mild but more complex and interesting. Our first Kenya Crown Jewel is a heavy hitter and has everyone a bit riled up here at The Crown. MJ had a line *not so* patiently waiting to get a taste of her espresso analysis and it did not disappoint…
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 Taylor Brandon
Kenya is hands down my favorite coffee growing region, and I would do brew analysis of Kenyan coffee all day if possible. The Kenya Nyeri Rumukia Double Washed Peaberry, which will be coming to The Crown as our new light roast drip option, is a stunner and delivers on the nose, in the cup, and in body. I completed six brews for this analysis and used our standard brew recipe of a 40 second bloom on the first pulse when the scale reaches 50g, a second pulse to 200g of water, and a final pulse to 300g of water. It is also important to note that I kept a dose of 18g of coffee for every brew as it was not a necessary variable for me to change. I got some enjoyable brews from this dose, and it supported a variety of flavor profiles.
For my first brew I used the C70 dripper from Saint Anthony Industries and a grind of 9 which produced a TDS of 1.39 and an optimal extraction rate of 20.23%. This beautifully captured the buttery body of this coffee and gave tangy soft citrus, mixed berry, and sweet cherry tomato.
I kept the C70 for the second brew but switched to a tighter grind of 8 on the EKS43 that brought my TDS to 1.49. This brew was all caramel and crème Brulle on the nose and spiced citrus in flavor. A more citrus caramel forward mulled wine if you will.
I moved to the Kalita Wave for the third brew because I wanted to see how a flatbed brewer would fare with the tighter grind of 8. It did not fare too well, and my coffee was over extracted at 22.27% and a high TDS of 1.56. This coffee also took the longest to brew, and presented lavender on the nose and more savory in the cup. Baker’s chocolate, corn and soy sauce were some of the flavors noted by the team.
For my next brew I stuck with the Kalita Wave but knew I had to coarsen that grind to 10 and this brought our extraction rate down to 21.19%. This brew spoke to the flavors of late summer with notes of plum, cocoa, black tea, and cutie mandarins resonating amongst the team.
I did my fifth brew using the V60 conical dripper for fun at a grind of 10.5 and it produced flavors of graham cracker, cherry and pralines, but I was missing that luscious texture. In search of the body I love, I went back to the C70 for my final brew and produced a TDS of 1.43 and an extraction rate of 20.81%. The buttery body was back and accompanied by rich honey, peanut brittle and herbs de Provence.
Well done to the farmers at New Rumukia Farmers Cooperative Society for producing a coffee with such a rich depth of citrus and herbaceous flavor; a sustaining and pleasant aftertaste; and luscious body (queue Megan Thee Stallion). Come by and try it once we have it available as our light roast drip option and enjoy yourself!
Espresso Analysis by MJ Smith
MJ here, reporting from the sky, because I am FLYING after drinking all the shots from this analysis! Like your toxic on-again, off-again ex, this espresso will keep you coming back for more (even though you know you’ve probably already had enough). If you’ve read any of my past analyses on Kenyan coffees, you know they hold a very special place in my heart, so I was more than excited to dial in this super special peaberry that everyone was buzzing about. I tried somewhere around 15 different shots of this coffee, but somehow managed to narrow it down to two recipes to talk about.
I usually like to start with a lower dose and work my way up, so the first shot I pulled had a dose of 17.5g, a yield of 39.2g, and a pull time of 31 seconds. It was love at first sip! Chris mentioned in his Taste Analysis that he was getting lots of fun, summery notes. However, on espresso, I was picking up notes that were more reminiscent of autumn, like molasses, pumpkin spice, caramelized brown sugar, and dried apricot. One super specific note I picked up (which anyone from the northeast United States will appreciate) was apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese melted on top. It was also giving some brighter notes of green grape, blackberry, and canary melon.
Skipping ahead to the shot Chris Kornman described as “a zinger” and “not for the faint of heart,” we’ve got a dose of 19g, a yield of 36.6g, and a pull time of 34 seconds. This shot was packed full of flavor and wrapped up in that silky smooth, full body we’ve come to expect from Kenyan coffee. Everyone in the building practically started lining up for a taste once word got around that I was dialing this coffee in, and this was the recipe I decided to share. Collectively, we picked up some brighter notes of dark berries (cranberry, blackberry, and currant), grapefruit and candied lemon, and mango with Tajin. It also had some lovely chocolatey and sugary sweetness, which reminded me of Cocoa Pebbles cereal, crème brulee, and maple syrup. We also were able to detect slightly savory, herbal, and spicy notes, such as sesame, corn, umami, ground cinnamon, and thyme.
All in all, this is a truly exceptional coffee that’s going to taste great no matter how you’re brewing it, but I will say that I really, really enjoyed it as an espresso. It’s one of those coffees that has a little something for everyone. As far as recommendations go, I found that the dose and yield didn’t play a huge factor in making this coffee taste great as there was something to love in almost every shot I pulled, but that it really shined when it pulled between 31 and 34 seconds. Don’t hesitate, get some for yourself now!