This is a traditional triple washed coffee from Kirinyaga, Kenya, produced by cooperative members of Rungeto Farmers’ Cooperative Society organized around the Kii “factory” (aka washing station).
The flavor profile is sweet, bright, and syrupy, with flavor notes of lemon, black cherry, and dark chocolate.
Our roasters found the green metrics (high density, low moisture) to present a few minor challenges early in the roast. The coffee appears to reach first crack much earlier than average.
When brewed as a pour-over, the coffee is exceptionally clean and sweet with a vibrant acidity. Our baristas suggest dosing down slightly to improve cleanliness and sweetness, and overall found the coffee easy to brew. We are featuring the coffee as a limited offering pour-over at the Crown.
Taste Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow
I can’t be the only one who’s been anxiously awaiting stellar Kenyas. The wait is over! This Kirinyaga is delicious, packed full of bright lemon verbena and grapefruit acidity, black cherry and panela sweetness, all together with a silky syrupy body. As a pour-over it is sparkling clean and incredibly sweet, but I can’t wait to try this as espresso – I’m sure the currant sweetness will intensify into a truly phenomenal and complex shot.
Source Analysis by Mayra Orellana-Powell
Perched high up in the southern foothills of Mount Kenya on rich red volcanic soil, the areas surrounding the Kii factory are ideal for producing some of the finest Kenyan coffee.
Farmers in these fertile foothills who typically cultivate around 250 coffee trees on half-acre plots have been delivering cherry to the Kii factory, which is one of 3 factories managed by an umbrella farmers’ cooperative society (FCS) called the Rungeto Farmers’ Cooperative Society. Smaller in size than other FCS, Rungeto has focused on quality processing and meticulous attention to detail, garnering it a reputation for amazing coffee and some of the cleanest and best organized factories in Kenya.
At the Kii factory only the ripest cherries are delivered, and additional hand sorting and floating is done to remove less dense and damaged beans before the coffee is depulped, fermented and washed. After the coffee is washed, it’s soaked in fresh water for long periods of time to solidify the hallmark Kenyan profiles.
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. When the coffee is milled for export, the green beans are sorted by screen size and graded according to size and shape. Larger beans (18+ screen) are labeled AA, 16-17 screen are labeled AB, and the round peaberry are labeled PB.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
This AA selection from Kirinyaga county matches expectations for large bean size, with a very small percentage falling outside of the 18-19 screens. Manual density readings indicate a figure slightly above average, whereas the digital output from our Sinar is quite high. (I expect the large beans settled in our small graduated cylinder a little differently than in the measurement cup that comes with the moisture meter.) The coffee is also on the dry side, both common and undisturbing for washed coffees from Kenya arriving during our summer months.
By and large, Kenyan coffees are also characterized by a limited number of highly controlled cultivars. 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 Analysis by Candice Madison
With Kenya, it’s either go big or go home! A big, juicy coffee deserves to be treated like the diva it is. And this coffee from Kirinyaga is a diva in the best sense – big delivery, easy journey! Now, although Kenya is by far one of my favorite origins to roast because the specialty coffee we receive across the board is of exemplary quality, due to the adherence to proven growing, harvesting, sorting, and processing techniques, it isn’t always the easiest. These coffees are dense and usually smack squarely in the middle of the ideal moisture percentage range. However, due to the lower-than-average moisture content of this coffee, as well as the fact that the density was high, but not the highest I’ve seen from this origin, I was a little cautious going into the roast.
I started the roast at 380F. Unfortunately, Cropster didn’t! I realized at 360F that although I had hit start twice, the page had frozen. Some quick, but very technical work was done to remedy it (I hit the computer) and managed to have the roast record from 360 F – so please bear that in mind when you’re reading the graph! I wanted to give as much heat up front as possible, so that I could begin to reduce the gas quickly and let the coffee and roaster do their thing.
I started with 100% gas and airflow, reducing the gas to 85% at equilibrium and closing the air to 50% a couple of minutes after, at 267F. Stepping off the gas before that airflow change and again at color change, I rode through stage 2 on 50% air and 50% gas, only changing the airflow to 100% just before first crack, at 371F.
I wasn’t overly happy at the way the coffee plateaued, if we are considering the RoR/C (rate of rise/change), during the Maillard stage. Although the moisture level was lower than average, the density wasn’t and I thought, erroneously, that the coffee needed more heat up front than it actually did. If I were to roast this again, I would start at about 10 degrees F lower than I did to charge the drum. I would then start with 85% gas, not 100%, and use the same step-down gas technique – adjusting for those changes, by reducing to 50% before the advent of stage 2, assuring a smooth downward descent in the RoR . I think this would have allowed the coffee a little more time in development and a little less time languishing in stage 2. But that’s for later, now we hit the cups!
Yum yum yum! And that was just 24 hours post-roast. At 48 hours post-roast, I can definitely say hit the caps lock button and type that again!! All sugar up front, with an almost cotton candy-like sweetness and, bright, but soft and complementary to notes of white grape and Meyer lemon that lent a complexity to the phosphoric effervescent acidity which is the hallmark of Kenyan coffees. Blackberry and purple fruit flavors were evident but gently introduced. Notes of semi-sweet chocolate and a soft buttery body rounded out an impressive cup. We have a number of delicious Kenyans lined and I don’t expect that they’ll be around long – drivers, start your engines!!
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 200g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
Kenyan coffee and fireworks go together pretty well in my mind, not only because of their explosive flavors, the time of the year, and the fanfare with which they arrive, but also because of their remarkable attributes in the roaster. This was the first coffee from Kenya I have roasted from this year’s crop, and it did indeed pop off in the roaster with plenty of zeal for first crack. One thing I recalled from years past is that most of the Kenyan coffees I roast tend to crack early, at slightly lower temperatures than most other coffees. To compensate for this, I chose to charge at a slightly lower temperature (for the Quest M3s) as well, 385F. I also kept fan speed to a minimum for a nice quick turnaround.
What I didn’t gamble for was the incredible density of this coffee. Even with minimal airflow and heat application set to maximum, this coffee had trouble really taking off after turning point. Being my second roast of the day, I had the clever idea of adding a little airflow right at turning point, just to 3 on the dial. This move didn’t do me any favors; as Chris notes, this coffee is relatively dry. The trick of drawing moisture out of the coffee with airflow didn’t work very well in this case, and my drying stage stretched on longer than I would have preferred. Live and learn. I turned fan back off at 250F / 2:55, and the coffee began to cook properly.
The next move was to reduce heat application at 285F / 3:45, and then increase fan speed to full at 310F / 4:50. This time, the airflow did indeed draw what moisture remained in the coffee, and my rate of rise spiked a bit at this point. At 330F / 4:50 I decided to begin ramping heat down to 5A and was met by a very sharp decrease in rate of rise. This roast was a rollercoaster! I wanted to keep a little momentum, and reintroduced heat application to 7.5A at crack (which will be impossible to miss, by the way) and managed to eke out about 17% post crack development while avoiding the notorious ‘flick.’ My final temperature was 380F, which seems quite low, but considering that first crack occurred at 368F, I wasn’t too worried about underdevelopment. In fact, looking at a cross section of a few of the beans, I was very pleased at the consistency of development from external to internal.
The flavors of this coffee were, of course, magnificent. Upon first sip, I got a very clear cinnamon note, followed by a lingering dark chocolate finish. As it cooled, sugars and acids made themselves know in the form of root beer hard candy, fresh and floral peach, and a distinct cranberry tartness. This coffee has tons of dimension and kept me coming back to check on my prior notes. Fortunately, I got something new and delicious every time. Brew as a filter drip for maximum clarity (in my humble opinion)!
Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on an Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
I put this Kenya through our Ikawa Pro V3 on our three standard profiles but had a little bit of trouble with our low airflow, long and cool profile. Even though this coffee shows a standard density, the Ikawa had a little trouble rotating the coffee with its fluid airbed, and the coffee ended up scorched and uneven. This isn’t a big surprise for a coffee from Kenya, which generally seems to thrive on hotter profiles, so maybe keep that in mind as you try your own. As a result, I’ve left that profile out of my analysis today.
However, the other two profiles turned out very well. Our standard hot and fast profile was very well behaved in the roaster, and produced a cup with a rich fruit flavor and aromas of cinnamon and praline. I tasted plum, peach, mandarin orange, brown sugar, praline, and an interesting cooling note of peppermint. This was delicious and well balanced, and the fruit flavors deepened as it cooled.
Our longer Maillard profile produced similar flavors, though with more dark sugar and caramel notes–no surprises here! I tasted stewed plum, dark chocolate, fudge, molasses, and again that cooling peppermint note, with a heavy chocolate finish. I would recommend a profile like this one if you wanted to highlight this coffee’s heavier, fudgy qualities, though my preference is for the hot, fast, standard profile.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Brew Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This coffee was a cinch to dial in on Saint Anthony C70 for service at the Crown! In some cases, the coffee seems to resist pour-over, but this coffee came out juicy and sweet first try. I started with our standard recipe of 18g of coffee at a grind of 8, and the result was a clear and sweet cup reminiscent of canned peaches. Because its sweetness was a touch cloying, and because I tasted a hint of ashy astringency on the end, I first tried coarsening the grind, and then tried decreasing the dose a touch. A coarser grind thinned out a bit of the syrupy sweetness but ended up increasing the astringency, but a lower dose produced a crystal clear, sweetly delicate cup. We tasted peach, nectarine, lemon zest and lemon verbena, grapefruit, green grape, black tea, and dark chocolate. This was a clean, thirst-quenching cup, with an intense sweetness and acidity.
I then tried the same recipe on Kalita, to see how the coffee would behave with a flat-bottomed brewer. It brewed a little faster, at 3:22 instead of 3:58, and produced a heavier and more syrupy cup, with notes of black cherry, lemon-lime acidity, dark brown sugar, and a silky-smooth medium body. This was a sweet, easy cup. I preferred the bright complexity of the C70 over the Kalita but loved the Kalita’s syrupy sweetness and simpler dark cherry profile.