Case Study Coffee Roasters Kenya Gachatha

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Sadly, this is the last of three coffees that came my way all the way from Case Study Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR. Case Study have always treated KC Coffee Geek well and were one of our earliest supporters, so when it comes to their coffee I am super-biased. That being said, I’ve been to their Sandy and Alberta locations in Portland and I’ve sampled a lot of their coffee and they’ve been on my “you’d like anything from them” roaster list since the blog started! If they send me a stinker, I’ll be sure to let you know. But, don’t hold your breath, just in case! Case Study don’t do online sales but they once advised me that readers can call them and order over the phone, so go for it! Today’s coffee is their Kenya Gachatha and it seems like forever since I had a Kenyan coffee last, so I’m excited to dig into it (using my own search bar up in the corner it looks like I’ve only had two Kenyan coffees since the beginning of March).

Gachatha is a “coffee factory” located 150km (95 miles) north of the capital, Nairobi. In Kenya, coffee “factories” are the washing stations where farmers bring coffee to be sorted, washed and processed and probably dried and milled for sale on the exchange. It’s not the old Folger’s factory in downtown Kansas City, I reckon! Gachatha was established in 1963 as the hub of the Gachatha Farmers Co-operative Society. The co-op has 900 active farmers as members today and these societies and factories are important to Kenyan coffee because most coffee farmers are smallholders working tiny plots of land. By pooling resources, efforts and coffee, these societies allow this amazing coffee to be brought to the rest of the world. Gachatha is in a heavily populated area, so they do a lot of water treatment to make sure contaminants don’t make it back into the streams and local tree habitats to the locals because of the bird populations they support. They understand that the coffee factory has to be sustainable or it won’t take long before there’s nothing there to process in the first place. 1

The aroma on this coffee right off the Gino pourover brewer is crazy! It was sweet with that coconut-but-not-coconut aroma/flavor I still have not been able to pin down. I also got a lot of mint (!) and pineapple in the aroma. That all mellowed out to the pleasant, sweet, slightly tropical “classic Kenyan” aroma after the cup started cooling. Obviously I was getting some insane volatiles in the aroma, so will they be in the cup, too?

In the cup I found this coffee to be pretty mellow and with familiar Kenyan attributes, but toned down a bit compared to some more in-your-face cups I’ve had. Restraint is not always a bad thing, so let’s dive a bit deeper. I made my samples using my 1:16 method in a notNeutral Gino pourover with Kalita 185 filters. 38g of coffee, 450g of water and about 3:45 brew time. Kenyan coffees are usually very bright and prized for their acidity, which is often lemony or grapefruity.

This Gachatha from Case Study is quite restrained. I’d say the overall vibe, while familiarly “Kenyan,” is noticeably darker than the bright citrus bombs that’ve been known to come from the country. If these coffees were a family, this Gachatha would be the surly goth daughter with a bubbly cheerleader sister on each side of her!

This is a sweet cup, for sure. There is a slightly fruity, sugary backbone that carries through the sip and really noticeably into the finish. While this isn’t a super-bright cup, the acidity we’ve come to love from Kenya is there. It tastes and feels more “malic” to me. Malic acid is responsible for the type of acidity you find in apples. It’s pleasant, softer and a bit more crisp than your citrus acids or some of the other acids compounds that give coffee its brightness. I absolutely love apple-y coffees and while I wouldn’t say this has apple-like flavors like some of the Peruvian coffees I reviewed recently, the overall character of the acidity seems a bit malic and apple juice like, to me. There is a little citrus in the mix, too, but it’s slight for my palate. There is a bit of a grapefruit pith note in the finish, so I suppose I would say some of that is in the mix. Some Kenyan coffees are really grapefruity, but not this one.

There is a little pineapple and tropical fruit in the cup. It’s subtle, but certainly there. The finish is just a tad on the dry side of neutral and the grapefruit pith in the aftertaste has some fresh pineapple character, too. Sometimes I get the slightly-overripe pineapple flavor that is a bit fermenty when I’m tasting coffee, but in this Gachatha the pineapple note I’m getting is more like a slightly underripe fruit. No ferment notes along with it.

This is a nice cup. I don’t know if my description is doing it any justice or not, but I really enjoyed drinking this coffee for my review. It has a lot of complexity that I can’t even begin to suss out for writing purposes, but it’s still really drinkable. I think the fact that the acidity is a bit mellower and the overall tone is darker than the average Kenyan coffee helps it be really easy to drink, for me. Sometimes really bright, complex and aggressive coffees fatigue my palate quickly and after half a cup I’m sort of done with them. I didn’t get that, “OK! Good coffee, but I’m done!” thing at all with this one. Another big winner from Case Study. They always seem to find interesting coffees and their roasting is top-notch every time. Beautiful coffee from my pals in Portland!