Intro by Chris Kornman

One of our perennial favorites returns to the Crown Jewel menu again this year: coffee from Dukunde Kawa cooperative in Northern Rwanda.

It’s been a tough year for our supply partners in both Rwanda and Burundi this season. Due to an administrative oversight, Dukunde Kawa had its organic certificate revoked despite maintaining good standing in its practices. It has, however, managed to maintain its Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade certificates.

Regardless, the coffee’s quality remains exceptional and iconic of the region. We’re juiced about its brisk black tea flavors, its uncommon brown-sugar and caramel sweetness, its ripe orange and cranberry flavors paired with raisins and tamarinds and nectarines. It’s an instant classic, and immediately recognizable as representative of Rwandan coffee excellence.

It also has important personal connections for many here at the Crown. Senior Royal Coffee Trader Jeri Idso and Richard Sandlin, our General Manager, visited the group in 2012. At the time, Richard was still working with Fair Trade USA, and made the journey with Sprudge. In the decades after Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, Fair Trade and other aide groups took a chance on coffee as a mechanism for stimulating economic growth and restoring livelihoods. Not every bet paid off… but Dukunde Kawa has stood the test of time, in no small part thanks to the trust and support of agents like USAID and FTUSA.

Evan Gilman also paid a visit during the harvest last year, observing their processing practices and reporting on social enterprises in a recent travelogue. He noted that the cooperative’s premier community program invests in its members through the gift of a calf, which can be raised to provide both sustenance for the member, milk to be sold back to the cooperative, and can be bred as well. He maintains personal contacts at the cooperative as well, keeping the team here abreast of updates as we awaited the coffee’s arrival.

The coffee makes its return in time to return to the Tasting Room menu at the Crown just in time for our 1-year anniversary, and will be featured as an espresso. We can’t wait for you to try it either here with us or at your own pace, in your own style. Let us know what you think.


Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

Much like other great coffees from Rwanda and Burundi, this coffee is triple washed. The practice involves a pre-fermentation water flotation to sort under ripe or damaged cherries out. Pulping and fermentation are followed by the second wash, which separates the coffee by density again. Finally, the coffee is soaked in clean water overnight prior to moving to raised bed drying tables where it will be closely attended by washing station employees who turn the drying parchment coffee with regularity and are ready at a moment’s notice to cover the fragile beans with waterproof tarps in case of a sudden seasonal rainshower.

This coffee comes to us at classic 15+ screen size with very high density and perfectly moderate moisture and water activity numbers. Expect it to hold its character in storage; it does seem to benefit nicely from a little sugar browning but in general you will probably find it to need more heat earlier rather than later in the roast. Be sure to check Evan and Candice’s roast notes for their perspective.

It feels like we should be past mentioning the potato defect at this point, but the topic still comes up so here’s the 30 second version. This coffee has been meticulously sorted and scrutinized and thoroughly vetted by quality teams both in Rwanda and here in the States. We stand behind it and would stake our reputation on it. The defect will surely occur, albeit rarely, and if that’s a problem for you, I’d suggest taking a glance at this article to get a broader perspective on coffees that deserve recognition and are here to be enjoyed. Happy roasting!



Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman

We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor, and were recalibrated in September 2019.

I’m feeling increasingly confident in the sample roast profiles I’ve been working on for the past few months on the Ikawa. This week I put both this Rwanda and CJ1332 from Ecuador to the test against Candice’s Probatino roasts. The coffees were cupped blind against the Probatino control and scored on our deviation production cupping sheet across five attributes: sweetness, acidity, viscosity (body), flavor, and aftertaste.

SR-0169 (in blue) was roasted to a default sample roast profile: 6 minutes with a high charge temp and consistent RoR until first crack. SR-0168 (in red) is a slightly gentler profile with a lower charge temp, slightly drawn out Maillard reaction phase, and in total 30 seconds additional roast time.

For this Rwanda, the longer roast cupped similarly to the control, though panelists noted slightly lower intensity. The “standard” sample roast profile outscored the control in sweetness and had a slight uptick in overall ratings from the group, and made for a very enjoyable cup. Strong flavor profiles similarities persisted in both roasts, ranging from tangy citrus to sweet caramelized sugars to baking spice and black tea.

You can download the profiles to your Ikawa Pro app here:

Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0

Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0


Roast Analysis by Candice Madison

A trumpet fanfare please – Dukunde Kawa is back!! A roar went up in the office when Chris whooped upon receiving the email that this stellar coffee was back in the warehouse. We knew it was coming and it still didn’t lessen the excitement!

This coffee is fantastic, there’s no other way to describe it. It’s a pleasure to roast and a delight to cup.

I roasted to protocol – 400g in the Probatino, a slightly higher charge temperature of 363F, for no other reason than I was a little slow hitting the start button on Cropster, so I’m fairly sure we went in at 360F! My preference for a ‘low and slow’ start was observed – 2 on the gas dial. And sure enough, I went up to 3 on the dial just after the turning point. I actually turned the dial up a tad earlier than I usually do, in anticipation of equilibrium, as the coffee came in with a good amount of moisture and I was anticipating having to give it a push up the hill of the drying stage.

And it turns out that I was correct; the moisture needed that higher heat applied a little earlier to enable a smooth ride to the Maillard stage. If I was to do this roast again, I would probably start at 2.5 or even full gas (3) right from the start, keeping the standard charge temperature of 360F.

After noting the color change, I left the coffee for 45 seconds, noted the slightly elevated RoR, and worrying that I wouldn’t take full advantage of the Maillard stage, as the coffee took on more heat, I lowered the gas to 2.5.

First crack came at 392, as expected, but what caught me by surprise was how quickly the coffee became exothermic. All of the moisture had been dealt a swift hand by my earlier gas applications. The coffee moved quickly from endothermic to exothermic, and kept exothermic-ing! All of the energy I had given the coffee came roaring back at me, much like karma, and I had to turn the gas down to 2 after first crack started rolling at 394 and just 2 degrees later, turn the actual flame dial from full to half power. This allowed me a full minute of post-crack development with a slightly elevated end temperature of 403 – still pretty respectable. Roasting this again, I would turn the gas down to 2, in anticipation of first crack, and then, once first crack was rolling, give it any extra gas it may need – but I don’t think that would be an issue!

On the cupping table, we could barely wait until it cooled. I think I was actually hopping from foot to foot! Deep sugary raisin notes came out as the most recorded flavor, caramel and vanilla were a close second and third. Coca, dried dates and maple syrup covered all of the sweet bases, with fruit flavors of berry, banana, peach and plum bringing up the rear. Tons of orange and white grape acidity made the cups sparkle against a silky smooth body. Don’t even think about how you would serve this (each and every way possible), just snag a box before it’s all sold out!!

Welcome back Dukunde Kawa, we’ve missed you!

quest m3s

Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman

Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature.  Read my initial post here and my updated post here.

This coffee was highly anticipated, and its arrival was met with enthusiasm by our whole crew despite some mishaps at the cooperative. We were all delighted when it tasted just as delicious as we all expected!

I have been in contact with Niyitegeka Azarias, the mill manager at Dukunde Kawa, since my visit in May 2018. Though we do send well-wishes, my Kirwanda is laughably inadequate. Nevertheless, good vibes abounded, and their coffee always arrives tasting great. This year is no different!

We’ve gotten lots of coffees below 10% moisture content this time of year, but this coffee was just above at 10.5%. This indicated to me that I’d need a little more ‘oomph’ going into my roast, and I decided for a charge temperature on the high end of my acceptable spectrum, 390F. This coffee also had a water activity very slightly higher than most recent arrivals, 0.54 aW. I was bound to get tons of sweet Maillard goodness from this coffee.

After charging 150g at 390F, I kept full heat (11A) and airflow on until Turning Point, when I made a reduction in heat (9.5A) and cut off the airflow. At 2:55 / 272F I turned the airflow up to 3 to slow down the rate of rise through Maillard stage. At 5:25 / 350F I increased airflow to maximum and reduced heat application to 7.5A in order to really slow down rate-of-rise going into First Crack. At First Crack, I turned the heat application off entirely and allowed the coffee to mellow out and finish cracking. At 12.2% roast loss and 16.5% of roast time spent in post-crack-development, this coffee had plenty of sugary attributes.

I would be lying if I said we were pleasantly surprised at the cupping table. There is nothing surprising about Dukunde Kawa’s coffee being consistently delicious. Black tea, brown sugar, and plum were some common notes, and an ethereal overtone described variously as bergamot, lavender, and clove floated atop the sweetness. This coffee is unmistakable, and delicious every time it comes in.

Try it as a pourover, try it as an espresso, or just drink it straight out of the cupping bowl. Get your hands on some!


Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor

It feels like we’ve been waiting on the edge of our seat for this coffee to arrive! We featured a coffee from the Dukunde Kawa coop when we opened The Crown last spring, so we were all particularly excited to have more delicious coffee landing again this year. And this coffee did not disappoint!

I didn’t really know what to expect from this coffee as a pourover. We found lots of floral notes, fruity notes, chocolatey notes and more while cupping, but nothing that was really dominating the flavor profile. So I used my first brew on the Origami dripper to feel things out. A 1:15 brew ratio and brew time of 3:45 yielded a robust 1.7 TDS and 22.16% extraction: encouraging, to say the least. As we tasted this brew, we kept coming back to notes like “floral,” “black tea,” and “lemon zest,” (a few favorites of mine, generally speaking) as well as milk chocolate and blackberry.

To try to double down on that light, floral, citrusy profile, I lowered my dose for the 2nd brew and switched over to a v60. The brew finished in about the same time (3:43), with a comparable TDS (1.65) and even higher extraction (24.27%)! I was happy to discover I had accomplished exactly what I was hoping for: big notes of black tea and lemon up front, with a light honey sweetness and lasting floral finish, this coffee was the light-bodied sipper that I’ve been holding out for for some time! I have to say, it’s not exactly what I was expecting, but I’m very excited that we’ll be featuring this coffee on the espresso bar at The Crown in just a few weeks – come grab a shot and see what the fuss is about!

Origin Information

Smallholder farmers organized around the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative's Mblima Coffee Washing Station
Local Bourbon Varieties
Musasa, Gakenke District, Rwanda
March - June
1500 – 2000 meters
Volcanic loam
Triple washed: Cherries floated prior to pulping and fermentation, fully washed, then soaked overnight in clean water. Dried on raised beds with protection from seasonal rains.
Fair Trade, Rainforest

Background Details

Rwanda Musasa Mbilima Dukunde Kawa Triple Washed Crown Jewel is sourced from family owned farms organized around the Mbilima mill located near a gorilla habitat in the Gakenke district of Rwanda.  Farmer plots are so small that measurements are based on the numbers of trees, not area of land. Farmers who process their coffee at the Mbilima mill are members of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, which started in 2000 with enough funds to build one wet mill.  In the following years, the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative has built three more wet mills(including the Mbilima mill) and completed construction of their own dry mill. More than 80 percent of the cooperative workforce is women, and producer-members have used earnings to improve their standards of living with investments in livestock, access to healthcare, and programs to protect the environment, which won the SCAA 2012 Sustainability Award. The quality of the coffee is also internationally recognized, consistently placing as one of the best in the Cup of the Excellence auction each year.