Something great is going on with coffee in South Carolina and today I’m back in that lovely state (spiritually… physically, I’m in Kansas City on a cold and dreary midweek day!) with Bridge City Coffee, a new roaster based out of Greenville. They sent me a sample of a peaberry honey process coffee from Burundi and my pals at Long Miles Coffee Project, so this coffee is quickly revealing that it has all of my favorite things smooshed into one! Without further ado…
BRIDGE CITY COFFEE BURUNDI MUNYINYA HILL PEABERRY
Bridge City Coffee is a new venture that is co-owned by Jon Quigg. Jon is a Kansas City native (small world!) who lives with his delightful wife in South Carolina and we first came into contact around April 2016 when he sent me a sample bag of some coffee he was roasting on his tiny Huky 500. He didn’t want an official posted review, rather, he was just looking for some feedback. The coffee was great and featured some amazing hand-drawn art by Kenzi. Fast forward a year and a half and Jon has partnered up with someone (I’m thinking Gregory Ward, who writes the blogs on their site) in the Bridge City Coffee venture. After doing some research, it looks like Gregory and his wife pulled up their roots in Denver and lit for South Carolina earlier this year. Reading through their blogs, it looks like a big inspiration for Bridge City was Denver’s Purple Door Coffee which employs teens and young adults who have been homeless. Business structures and things like that are a bit complicated for me, but Gregory lays it all out here. Basically, they plan to expand from a roasting operation to a roastery with emplyees, and eventually to a cafe, and they want to reinvest in the communities their employees will be coming from in an innovative way. In the meantime they’re doing pop-ups with a coffee cart, trying to find wholesale accounts, etc. Gregory does a good job of detailing the ups and downs of the Bridge City adventure in their blog, so definitely check it out…
Not to bury the other lead too much, we do have some coffee today! It comes from the fabulous Long Miles Coffee Project, which I’ve written about in detail before. Long story short: young American couple buying washing stations and exporting coffee from Burundi to help transform that country from the poorest country on Earth! They have three very young kids and Ben and Kristy (who is an amazing photographer) do a good job documenting their trials and tribulations on their site. This is not white-people-in-Africa-kicking-back-on-an-estate type of living. They made it through at least one violent coup and their dedication to Burundi is as fiery as their passion for great coffee and it’s really an amazing story.
This morning’s coffee is from LMCP’s Munyinya Hill washing station and it’s a honey process peaberry! I don’t believe I’ve had a honey process coffee from Burundi yet, so this is another first like that honey from Sumatra I had recently from Airship Coffee. Anyway, peaberries are the cutest of all coffee beans, for sure, and this bag is literally full of the happiest, cutest beans I’ve ever seen! LOL Usually a coffee cherry has two seeds (what we call coffee beans) growing in it and that’s what gives them their characteristic flat-on-one-side shape, from being pressed against one another inside the fruit. Peaberries are a mutant (a cute one at that) wherein only one coffee bean grows. They’re often tiny, but also jolly, and round and they’re just adorable. Honey processing is a method where the skins of the cherries are removed but the sticky mucilage of the fruit is left behind, and then the coffee beans are laid out to dry with all that goop on them. It’s supposed to create more sweetness, body and fruitiness in the cup while also being cleaner tasting than a traditional natural process coffee where the fruit is left totally intact to dry like big raisins. This coffee grows around 1890masl. I used my standard pourover method of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino. Handground grinder was set to 3 and as always I brew with Third Wave Water, which has been an absolute game-changer for me.
The aroma on this coffee gives me some citrusy fruits and maybe a hint of florals. Taking a sip, I’m greeted by a medium-light bodied coffee that has a lot of punch to it… so I guess I’d say the body is on the lighter side, the flavors are quite intense and contradict the lighter body. There’s a lot going on in this coffee, and all of it is hitting me really great! As the cup cools, some of its intensity mellows out, too, which I think serves this coffee well. This sip starts sweet and fruited and then the more intense citrus notes crash in and ramp up the acidity quite a bit. And even though this coffee is quite bright, it keeps a solid sweet base to give it some balance. This definitely leans into the fruity aspects of its flavor profile, but that’s fine because those fruits are delicious!
Parsing out the flavors I’m getting, a cool, honeydew melon sweetness that washes over my palate in the early sip. The citrus notes that come in hard and heavy right after it remind me of pink grapefruit, mostly the fruit and juice itself with minimal pithy bitterness. This grapefruity note is a little rounder and less aggressive than what I might expect from, say, a bright Kenyan coffee that is very grapefruit forward. There’s a definite “juiciness” to these flavors, really hitting the cheeks and causing some salivation in my palate that just wants me to drink more, and faster! The honeydew note comes back strongly for me in the finish and aftertaste of this coffee. There is a definite “coolness” to the flavors in this coffee that is hard to desribe…. for me, most coffees tend to fall into the “warm” category and I don’t mean temperature. Whether it’s warm spicy notes or fresh baked goods or chocolate, dark fruits, etc, these coffees tend to have flavors that evoke “warmth” or they somehow relate to a scene in my mind that is “warm.” Occasionally, though, coffees can be the opposite and more of a cool vibe and this is definitely one of those. The last coffee I can think of off the top of my head that called up “coolness” to me was Theodore’s absolutely amazing Wush Wush from Ethiopia, so it’s definitely a welcome surprise when I find a “cool” coffee!
This is a delightful coffee. It’s bright without being harsh, it’s delicious and inviting and yet the crisp melon and grapefruit flavors are a bit of a surprise and somewhat unexpected compared to a lot of the coffees I’ve been drinking. I found myself having to slow down as I drank this coffee because it got better and better as it cooled down and the sweetness and juiciness of those fruits had me practically chugging this coffee down by the end! This is an outstanding first outing for Bridge City for me and I can’t wait to try out the other two samples they sent!