We’re thrilled to bring Tanzanian coffee back to the menu this year, with another exceptional selection from the Vohora Family’s Edelweiss Estate.
This is a Peaberry selection available exclusively as a 10kg Crown Jewel boxes and it is lovely. Lush low acidity fruit notes like melon, banana, and apricot are accompanied by delicious notes of cinnamon and drinking chocolate.
For the second consecutive year, we’ve partnered with the Vohoras to bring in some delicious Tanzanian coffee. In addition to being excellent coffee producers, they’re also lovely people. I met Neel in Chicago years ago before visiting the farms with him for the first time in 2014. Neel is a third-generation Tanzanian of Indian heritage, and his family has been in the Tanzanian coffee business since the end of the second World War. The family export business based in Arusha has more than 60 years experience in the country.
Since 1971, the Vohora’s have owned about 1000 acres of farmland on the southern exterior slopes of the Ngorongoro caldera near the town of Karatu in Tanzania’s lush rift valley. The farms possess Rainforest Alliance certificate, and the family and their 50+ full-time employees on the farm have done a remarkable job of upkeep and preservation of natural beauty while also running a thriving coffee business. They are diversifying into Macadamia, provide temporary housing for harvest labor, and even supply land on the farm for local smallholders to grow beans – a mutually beneficial crop as the legumes fix nitrogen in the soil, a critical step in a healthy cycle of crops.
Neel’s sister Kavita runs the dry mill, roasterie, and export business from Arusha, a two-hour drive away from the farms. Their father, Ajai, lives in nearby Nairobi, Kenya, and is still very much involved in the business of exporting coffee as well, and has been instrumental in maintaining the relationship. Kavita is a licenced Q-grader, a meticulous cupper and quality agent, a lively companion for a glass of wine, and a mother. She keeps a small army of pets around the office, including terriers and ducks. Neel, an excellent cook and vivacious host, is also a knowledgeable farmer with a persistent drive to experiment, has staffed the estate with experienced management. He’s also fond of dogs and has a beautiful and rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback that stays on the farm.
The coffees the Vohora family produce achieve consistently high quality from year-to-year despite a number of uncommon obstacles. Water shortages prompted new rainwater basins at critical high points on the farm a few years ago. Animal damage of the coffee trees is frequent and traumatic – usually it’s the water buffalo that are most destructive in herds, though you can catch the sounds of an occasional elephant at night, making its way through the forest.
In addition, Tanzania presents a number of unique challenges for both growers, exporters, and importers. Beyond navigating the diverse population, the vast landscape, and complicated logistics, a revamped auction system in 2018 virtually removed any private access to export market and complicated an already intricate trading landscape. Tanzania, has long been beset by an inconsistent support structure, corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent delays at hot and humid ports.
All this would be enough to dissuade all but the most persistent of coffee farmers. Fortunately for us, the Vohora Family have persisted.
Pretty standard sizing for a Tanzanian Peaberry, mostly 15 and 14 screens, this coffee (much like its AB counterpart) is dry with a low water activity. It’s a little lower in density by free settling, however.
The peaberry is generally recognized as a developmental anomaly that results in the presence of a single seed inside the cherry, rather than two facing beans. Our affection for the funny, round little peaberries might simply be visual appeal – they’re adorable and often pleasantly uniform both before and after roasting. It’s possible (but disputed) that peaberries may have more concentrated flavor. They most definitely present challenges in drying and roasting, as their shape, size, and density don’t absorb heat in the same manner as a flat bean, so keep an eye on the roasting recommendations for this delightful coffee!
The Vohoras are growing an interesting mix of coffee varieties on their farms. In addition to the heritage Bourbons and New World Typicas, they have planted SL28 (a drought-resistant selection made in Tanzania in 1931), Kenya’s improved and backcrossed Batian hybrid (named for Mt. Kenya’s highest peak and a prominent Masai leader), and lastly Kent, a Typica selection made in India — the first such selection made for rust resistance.
The Tanzania peaberry from the Edelweiss Estate is one of my all time favorite coffees to roast. It is sweet and clean with subtle, yet juicy acidity and this year is no different. With the grand opening of our new location, I was only able to squeeze in one roast of this coffee. I started the roast with a modest charge temperature of 352F and turned the gas to max just after turn around, 1:33 minutes into the roast. This gave me plenty of heat to carry me through to first crack at 6:42. This dry and dense peaberry had a very high first crack temperature fo 397F and did not visually expand much in the drum. I decided to stop the roast just 1:07 minutes into the post crack development time knowing that peaberries can take on a lot of heat and often develop much quicker internally than their flat bean cousins.
On the cupping table this coffee was dripping with chocolate and orange as if it was the coffee equivalent to drinking chocolate. I hope you get an opportunity to roast and drink this sweet syrupy coffee.
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.
This peaberry reacted very differently to heat than I expected, but was delicious regardless. I didn’t alter my roasting practice too much from my usual routine, but I have been roasting indoors at The Crown, and that may have something to do with my speedier roast time, and quick development as well.
For this excellent Tanzanian coffee, I wanted good expression of acids without focusing too much on sugar development. What happened was something different, as this coffee really takes on heat! I achieved first crack at 10:15, reduced heat to 75% at 10:40, and opened the door for 5 seconds at 11:00 to allow some smoke to exit the roasting chamber. I allowed the coffee to develop for 1:20 after first crack for a final roast time of 11:35 – just a bit shorter than my average roast.
Sandra, Richard, and I cupped this coffee, and noted brown sugar, lime, chocolate, and pearlike malic acid. All of this accompanied, of course, by the herbal notes that follow a roastier path in the barrel (thyme, sage, cumin).
If I were to roast this coffee again, I would be careful especially after first crack, where I would reduce heat immediately and drastically to draw out a more even roast. This coffee could have used more development time, but less heat in the finish, from my perspective. Careful in those last few minutes!
This week, Crown barista Elise dialed in this delicious Peaberry on both the ceramic Phoenix P70 ceramic and the glass Kalita wave brewers. The coffee responded especially well to the narrow cone P70 and offered brilliant acidity and a lot of clarity in flavor. A relatively fine grind worked well, but a moderate coarsening opened the coffee up quite a bit, showcasing lots of delicious green apple tartness, brown sugar, and raspberry.
The Kalita Wave, meanwhile, softened the acids and accented the coffee’s fudgy characteristics. A soft smoothness with a lot of vanilla sweetness and loads of chocolatey flavors were the hallmarks of this brewing device’s effect. The roast seemed to respond consistently with its extraction and grind size increases, and generally stayed on the lower end of the extraction spectrum across multiple brews.