I’m excited to get into this month’s Barista Coffee Box because July features Blueprint Coffee, a St. Louis roaster and shop that is one of the jewels of St. Louis’s small, but good, specialty coffee culture. I visited the shop in 2015 (see the link below) and was really impressed, and I’ve reviewed a couple of their coffees, but it has been a couple years. Let’s start with Blueprint’s Kawa Kabuya, a coffee from the Congo!
BARISTA COFFEE BOX JULY 2017: BLUEPRINT COFFEE CONGO KAWA KABUYA
I really enjoyed the small amount of time I spent at Blueprint Coffee one summer afternoon a couple years ago. St. Louis (at least at that time) had a very small specialty coffee culture compared to Kansas City’s, but with other local roasters like Sump, the quality was high. Check out my story, linked above, about my visit to both places. Since opening in 2013, Blueprint has earned a reputation for great coffee and really cool aesthetics, as evidenced by their labels, one of my favorites in the business! They are July’s featured Barista Coffee Box roaster, so I get to try out and share four of Blueprint’s coffees with you. I grabbed the Congo Kawa Kabuya first, so let’s check it out!
This is a washed coffee from Bashu, in the North Kivu area of Congo (northeast Congo, north of Rwanda and just to the west of the border with Uganda). The cooperative has been working toward higher quality coffees for 10 years. In 2014 they exported one container of specialty grade coffee and in their last harvest they exported three, so the work is finally paying off for these farmers! This lot is a mix of Catucai, Bourbon and Blue Mountain varieties grown around 1450-1550masl and this is a washed coffee. Blueprint gives us tasting notes of, “berry, apricot, macadamia nut, fig, tobacco.” Looking at Blueprint’s flavor wheel graphic, this coffee is redlined for sweetness and brightness and is a little lower on body. Let’s find out!
I used my standard pourover setup of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set to 3 and I used Third Wave Water in my brewing, as always. I am greeted by a bright, vivacious, fruity vibe right from the first sip! For me, this coffee has a medium-light body but it feels very present on my tongue and palate because of the boldness of the flavors. Each sip is nice and bright, but there is also a very apparent sweetness to this cup that really expands in the second half of the sip. Right up front I get a fruity acidity that has some tartness to it, too. Apricot is a really good descriptor for the acidity in this cup. It’s bright, but it’s not apple or citrusy, and that tartness gives it a fruited character. It’s too bright and tart for a generic “stone fruit” descriptor and it really does remind me of dried apricot. Just like dried apricot, though, there is a lot of sugary sweetness to be found right alongside the tartness and brightness of the acidity. That fruity sweetness and slightly tart acidity are really the main players in this cup for me. I get a little blackberry in the aftertaste, which to me has some berry jam qualities with a slight floral/perfumed characteristic, too. Later into the aftertaste I get a little tobacco as well, not unlike how a fruit-topped pipe tobacco tastes on the palate, especially early smoke when things are still light and aromatic.
This is a really tasty coffee. It’s bright and vibrant but balanced perfectly with a lot of sweetness to hold down the low end of this coffee. The flavors lean toward bright with a bit of tartness that I absolutely adore, but it is also well-balanced and doesn’t give me any palate fatigue. For a coffee this bright and acid-forward it remains really drinkable and really delicious at the same time. Nicely done, Blueprint!!