This is a traditional double washed coffee from Nyeri, Kenya, produced by smallholder cooperative members of Gichichi factory.
The flavor profile is bright and zesty with a strong apple-like flavor accented by notes of white grape and white peach.
Our roasters found the coffee to take heat readily but to need a lot of it, and encourage you to hit the beans with a lot of heat early in the roast.
When brewed, our baristas encourage a balanced extraction to marry sweetness and viscosity with the bright acid profile, and enjoyed brewing it on an array of pour-over devices.
Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman
This is a very bright coffee with acidity at the forefront of its flavor profile, no surprise to those familiar with classic Kenyan offerings from Nyeri County. Fruit acids veer towards malic rather than citric, however, making it uniquely apple-like, with hints of flavors including white grape, ruby red grapefruit, and pleasantly delicate notes of hibiscus and white peach. If you’re looking for a zesty Kenyan offering with immaculate cleanliness and an uncommon fruit-acid profile, you need search no further.
Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger
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 five 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. Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society, the umbrella organization that includes Gichichi 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 Gichichi factory is located between the cities of Othaya and Gichichi, close to the Chinga reservoir, in far southern Nyeri near the Murang’a county border. The cool air and precipitation that washes over this region, emanating from both Mt. Kenya’s forest to the north and nearby Aberdare Mountains to the west, is considered a large contributor to Nyeri’s coveted coffee terroir.
“13TY0001” in the title refers to this coffee’s “outturn” number. Outturn numbers are unique microlot codes that are given to each and every batch of parchment delivered to dry mills from individual factories or estates anywhere in Kenya, and are the units on which Kenya’s entire microlot export system is built. Outturns in Kenya are tracked with a shorthand code that places the specific batch of parchment coffee in time, place, and sequentially with other coffees. Outturns are stylized as an 8 or 9-character code, including a 2-digit “coffee week” number, a 2-letter mill code, and a 3 or 4-digit intake number for the coffee’s delivery. So this particular lot was delivered in harvest week 13, to the Othaya’s own dry mill (code “TY”), and was the 1st delivery that week.
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
Classic Kenya AA specs here: very large in size with overall dry moisture figures. The density measured manually came out about average, but because of the large bean size, scaling up in sample size to the Sinar’s built-in reading, we can see the likely green density is much higher than average.
The usual Kenyan 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 Chris Kornman
Taking this big, dense coffee into first crack is going to require a bit of energy. To accomplish this, I opted to start with a fairly hot charge temperature and really hit the gas hard out of the gates. I opened the airflow baffle at the turnaround to 50% and kicked the gas from my starting 70% position up to full tilt, 100% burner power, and held that for the next 3-and-a-half minutes, a little after observable color changes, when I also opened the airflow fully through the roaster.
With enough momentum built up through the drying stage, Maillard changes progressed quickly and I incrementally reduced my burners, anticipating first crack, while trying to keep browning reactions on pace. The coffee behaved very much as expected through this hot, fast profile, and I watched the last few seconds of roasting where it looked like the ROR was about to tick back up (“flick”) and I cut the burners completely. The coffee dropped at over 90 seconds development but at a fairly low end temperature, and I’d been keeping a close eye on the color. With a ROR under 20 degrees per minute for the majority of development, the Colortrack (whole bean) of 60.91 indicated a fairly light exterior hue, while internally the 53.58 (ground) reading offered evidence of an on-target light filter drip roast.
Attempts to balance sugar browning and acid development during Maillard paid off in the cup, with classic grapefruit notes paired with pineapple, raisin, fresh plum, and a chocolaty backbone. This is a really nice and well-behaved Kenya AA which should offer few problems in the roaster as long as you give it enough heat early in the process.
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.
Not the last Crown Jewel from Kenya this year, and it certainly isn’t the least, eitheryears, I have seen coffee from the Gichichi Factory come in, but this is perhaps the best lot in memory, and the first time on the Crown Jewel menu as well.
This is a very large bean, and quite dense as well. You’ll need to hit this with a lot of heat from the outset, and you may like to continue putting the heat on all the way through as well – I learned that one by experience, as you’ll see below.
I charged this coffee at 389F, with full amperage and fan at the start. To really put the heat to this coffee, I turned off airflow well before turning point, at about 45 seconds into the roast. It turns out that I reintroduced fan speed a little earlier than I should have at 250F / 2:45; this could have waited a little longer to really get this coffee to move through the Drying stage. At 280F / 3:30 I reduced heat to 7.5A, then ramped fan speed up to full by 310F / 4:15. Reducing heat further to 5A at 340F / 5:10 was a reaction to this coffee still moving at a reasonable clip, but rate of rise dipped heavily after this adjustment most likely due to the density and size of this coffee. To add a little extra heat before first crack, I returned to 7.5A at 370F / 6:20, before the very sparse crack, and reduced to 0A at 390F / 7:45, just a little into post-crack development.
Keep a close ear to the machine when roasting this coffee, as the crack is very quiet. Also, consider using a charge temperature at the very top of your reasonable limit to achieve a nice movement through drying phase. This coffee lost quite a bit of momentum after first crack, and while my post crack development accounted for 15.5% of the roast time and my final temperature was 395F at drop, this coffee still seemed on the light and bright side (which some may enjoy).
Super bright kiwi, tart cranberry, and nectarine came through when I made a filter drip of this coffee – the method I would recommend for this particular roast style. If you go slightly darker, I think this would make a fabulous espresso as well. Check Chris’ notes above on roasting this coffee, and you’ll see that he’s getting some chocolatey characteristics, and some nice dried fruit notes as well. Don’t be afraid to take this coffee to higher temperatures in the roaster, it can handle plenty of heat!
Brew Analysis by Zainab Syed
This Crown Jewel from Kenya was a gracious coffee to brew, in that each varying cup offered something beautiful and memorable. I brewed this coffee using three different devices: Saint Anthony Industries’ C70, the Fellow Stagg and the Bee House. As of recently, the SAI C70 has become my go-to brew device for a conical brew. I have enjoyed the results it yields for about any coffee. However, the Bee House brew of this particular Crown Jewel outshined the C70 for me as it delivered a bright and clean cup, much like the C70, while also highlighting the fruit and florals in the coffee.
I think of the Bee House dripper as a marriage between a conical and a flatbed dripper, allowing for a well-balanced extraction. This brew sat between the Stagg and C70 in both its brew time (2:37) and TDS (1.43). In the case of this brew, we tasted hibiscus, grape, and peach, making for an exceptionally juicy body. We also picked up lovely hints of subtle lime notes, as well as tamarind and green apple.
Brewing and tasting this coffee was quite a treat for me. Needless to say, I believe it will please any coffee drinker who tends to enjoy the sweet, fruity qualities of East African coffees.