Crown Jewel Kenya Mumwe Mahiga Double Fermented and Double Washed CJ1542 – 19TY0028 – 31062-1 – SPOT RCWHSE

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Flavor Profile Pomegranate, plum, lime, orange blossom, vanilla, sweet

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This is a semi-traditional washed coffee from Nyeri, Kenya, produced by members of the Mahiga Factory and Othaya Cooperative Society. 

The flavor profile is uncommonly delicate for Kenyan coffees, with sweet soft citrus notes like lime, lemon, and grapefruit and hints of black tea and honey. 

Our roasters found the coffee’s delicate flavors can benefit from a slightly gentler approach than the usual high-heat we expect for Kenyan coffees. 

When brewed, our team found delightfully bright and sweet cups at a coarser-than normal grind for pour-overs, and suggest that it will make a fantastic single-origin espresso. 

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

 This complex and uncommonly delicate Kenyan coffee hails from one of our perennial favorite cooperatives, Mahiga. Using an unconventional multi-stage fermentation and washing technique, we’ve come to expect excellence. 

For us, that almost always starts at the cupping table. High scores notwithstanding, the coffee also has a softness to it that’s unusual for our beloved Kenyas, so often known for blazing acidity and intense flavors. We noted floral fragrance in the cups, followed by an exceedingly sweet and gentle flavor led by soft citrus notes like lime, grapefruit, and lemon – unsurprisingly Kenya-esque flavors except for their subtlety. 

When brewed as a pour-over, Taylor picked up on a recipe that highlighted rose, hibiscus, and lemon. Our initial trial roasts of this coffee led us to the espresso machine, and we’re featuring it soon here on the bar at The Crown. Early production roasts yielded wonderfully sweet flavors of cantaloupe and brown sugar, with hints of floral essence and a cucumber-like freshness. 

Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger 

Mount 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 (as 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. Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society, the umbrella organization that includes Mahiga Factory, is one of Kenya’s larger societies, with 19 different factories and more than 14,000 farmer members across the southern Nyeri region. The Mahiga Factory has 400 members actively harvesting and delivering to the processing center. The factory’s total parchment output this past harvest was 152,000 kgs, meaning the average member of Mahiga is farming enough coffee fruit for roughly 11 30kg units of exportable green. 

 Mahiga Factory’s chairman is Newton Mugai, one of the founding directors of Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE). KCCE is an historic organization of almost 4,000 individual cooperatives. The group was formed in 2009, with the express goal of managing marketing and exporting operations cooperatively (as opposed to contractually with third parties) and thereby increasing returns to farms. The economics of smallholder systems are consistently difficult everywhere in the world, 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. KCCE, by managing more of the value chain itself, can capture a greater margin on behalf of the farms. Farmers belonging to Mahiga receive 55 shillings per kilogram of fresh cherry delivered to the factory, the equivalent of $1.40/lb of the green coffee price. 

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, wash, and soak, and wash their coffees again entirely with fresh, cold river water. 

 Mahiga typically ferments twice: once under water for 12 hours, and again under fresh water for another 12-36 hours, with a washing in between. Double fermentation is very rare in Kenya, and, based on our experience, the technique is strongly correlated with excellent cleanliness and clarity in the cup (Mahiga’s lots are some of the best and most balanced Kenyas we’ve tasted all year). 

 After fermentation is complete, the clean parchment soaks for 16 hours, again in fresh water, before it is sorted by density and brought to the tables to dry, which typically takes two weeks. After drying is complete the coffee is stored on site and eventually delivered to the Othaya dry mill for grading and a final round of density sorting. 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 

 Working with green coffee from Kenya is just so dreamy. It 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. 

 For the second consecutive year, this Mahiga arrived at an unusual size. The coffee is listed as an AB, which would usually indicate screens 15-17… but we’ve got a full screen size upgrade on our hands here with 99.5% of the beans sorted to 16-18. The tight distribution of the sizes remains on-spec for high grade Kenyas, so I wouldn’t expect any particular consequences from this curiosity. Additionally, the coffee exhibits characteristically high density and low moisture, in-line with our usual expectations from the origin.  

 The standard cultivar suspects 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. 

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido 

Kenyan Mahiga has been a Crown Jewel for consecutive years, a flavorful and excellent quality coffee. This year, I am roasting this coffee to be featured as an espresso on our menu here at the Crown.  

 As for high-density coffee like this one, I have made a simple and easy roast. I preheated the roaster drum very well and knowing that using a lot of air would help, I finished the preheating using air till I got a stable 441F. 

On a 5 kilos Diedrich roaster I start my 5.5 lbs. batch adding the 100% gas power in the first 30 seconds. Then I dropped to 60% after 3 minutes of the roast and soon to 30% just before the color changed. With this, I look to push the roast during drying and then just watch the rate of change to keep lowering to the first crack and to drop the pilot down 30 seconds on post-development with enough energy to finish my 1:30 minutes on post-development. I did a slightly short Maillard looking to bring the acidity even though I know this year Mahiga became more delicate than previous years. On the cupping table, I got cantaloupe, clean citric acidity dried pineapple, green grape, hibiscus, plum, and some cucumber, and watermelon. 

Overall, it is a clean and buttery coffee, with delicate fruity flavors to work with. It will perform simply great on the espresso menu, stop by and taste! 

 

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! 

As one of my very favorite origins, and one of my favorite Factories in Kenya’s fabled Nyeri County, Mahiga Factory coffees hold a place in my personal compendium of Repeat Tastiest Offenders. Some folks relegate themselves strictly to the AA and PB lots from these factories, but I have found more often than not that the grade of a coffee (especially one from Kenya) is not a clear determining factor of its deliciousness. Thus this AB lot is, unsurprisingly, incredibly quaffable.  

I wanted to try roasting this coffee two different ways, not only because I’m experimenting with higher charge temperatures and shorter roast times, but also because I knew I’d enjoy drinking any result (unless, of course, I made some very serious mistakes). To that end, I started both of my roasts at 455F, with P9 power and F2 fan. The goal was to have two very similar roasts with different end temperatures, and with peak rates of change below 40F/minute. 

For the first roast, I reduced power and increased fan speed to P8 and F3 respectively at 260F / 1:45, while on the second I made the same move at 230F / 1:15, knowing that the rate of change would continue to rise in both cases.  

Interestingly, I was able to mark Yellowing at 329F only 4 seconds later in the second roast. In the first roast, I decreased heat application to P7 about 15 seconds after Yellowing, while in the second I made the same adjustment 20 seconds before Yellowing and kept it there for the remainder of the roast.  

My airflow adjustments had much more of an effect than variations in heat application, as you might expect. The first roast got F4 fan at 356F / 5:15 in my usual anticipation of a spike, and this led to some serious volatility in rate of change. In the second roast I waited until 368F / 6:00, and was met with a nice, even decline in rate of change. 

The only other difference between the two roasts is that for my first roast, I reduced heat application further to P6 at 374F / 6:25 as my rate of change became increasingly volatile. Both roasts finished with F5 fan to drop rate of change and expel smoke at the end of roast.  

Further, both roasts spent identical proportions of time in Green / Maillard / Post-Crack development at 44% / 34% / 20%. Roast 1 finished at 396.5F / 8:35, and Roast 2 finished at 401.9F / 8:47. 5 degrees and 12 seconds actually makes quite a bit of difference, as it turns out! 

Roast 1 was certainly chuggable, with bright cranberry tartness up front, clear peach, and cocoa notes for days. There was a bit of cereal here, but it wasn’t unpleasant, and sort of led me to make an association with chocolate breakfast cereals. Roast 2 was the clear winner, however, with crisp apple acidity, candied violet florals, and a tartness like a rose hip straight off the bush. Clearly either of these would make my morning, but my preference was definitely for Roast 2 with its transparent florals and clean cocoa finish.  

Use this coffee any which way. Even taken darker, this coffee will have plenty of acids left over to keep your cup sweet through heavily developed sugars. Espresso, filter drip, moka pot… you name it, and the Mahiga will deliver. Enjoy with extreme prejudice.  

 

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. 

Our last Kenya CJ of the year and it’s a good one! From the initial analysis to the production batch on the table, the team noticed this Kenya was not as loud one might expect but found that it displayed a nuanced and delicate perspective of what Mahiga can offer. There was a freshness to this coffee, and we found cucumber, flower essence, cantaloupe and brown sugar. 

The low density roast turned out to have some of that nice melon flavor followed up by cacao and some caramel. These flavors held together nicely through the body but were perhaps less nuanced. This gave a good look at what a slightly longer roast can bring to the table. 

The high density roast offered up some apple juice, lemon, pear and peach. Certainly a bit brighter on the acidity, with lots of that apple juice flavor present, but the body felt a touch lighter.  

We recommend starting with the high density roast on the Ikawa batch and then playing around with being a little bit gentler with this coffee when moving to production. Sometimes the best things aren’t necessarily the loudest. This coffee is headed to espresso, and I am super excited to see how the floral essence, cantaloupe, soft citrus and fresh cucumber stack up on bar. Happy roasting!  

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 

The Kenya Mumwe Mahiga is a beautiful addition to a strong line-up of Kenyan coffees at The Crown this season. I was short on time when conducting this brew analysis and relied heavily on past brews of East African coffees to act as a template for my trials.  

The first brew is based off the brew profile for the Ethiopia Desta Gola that we currently have on pour over at The Crown. I started with the V60 dripper, 18 grams of coffee at a grind of 9, and our standard pulse recipe. A total brew time of 3:45 brought the brew to a TDS of 1.47 and an extraction rate of 21%. I enjoyed the butterscotch, hazelnut, honey, and Meyer lemon notes of this brew. The soft body held the flavor of this brew well and I decided to replicate that by sticking with the same dose of coffee for all of my trials.  

My second brew was also with a V60, but I opted for a coarser grind of 11. This brew presented a TDS of 1.33 and an extraction rate of 19%. This recipe created a much brighter cup with hibiscus, lemon, rose and brown butter notes. I then moved to the flat-bed Kalita Wave in search of a deeper more saturated flavor. Aside from changing the brew device, I kept all the variables the same. This 4-minute brew finished with a TDS of 1.34 and an extraction rate of 19%. This brew was heavy on notes of black tea, lavender, grapefruit, and anise.  

In my final brew I tightened the grind a tad to 10, still using the Kalita Wave as my brew device. I got a TDS of 1.4 and an extraction rate of 19%. This brew brought the depth with notes of toasty marshmallow, lime zest, nutmeg and pear. The second brew with the V60 and a grind of 11 was a standout for me due to its citrusy bright sweetness in the cup. Stick to a flat-bed brewer like the Kalita Wave if you are in search of more toasty and spiced flavors. All-in-all, an exceptional coffee whose quality remains consistent in the cup.