Dapper & Wise Kenya PB Kamacharia

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Dapper close upDapper & Wise has been “bravely roasting coffee in the suburbs of Portland, OR” for a relatively short time, but in that time they’ve put together a great brand and a beautiful location in a great part of town on Division. Dapper & Wise is basically the specialty roaster arm of Insomnia Coffee Co., which has several locations around Portland. Today’s review is of Dapper & Wise’s Kenya PB Kamacharia, which is available directly from them for $17/bag.

Kenya has an interesting coffee business in that almost all of it is produced through a cooperative system, sorted by size, and then sold as lots at auction. So, unlike Colombia, for example, where you can potentially buy a single microlot from a single farmer, Kenyan coffees are bought as lots from multiple farmers.

One of the hallmarks of the Kenyan coffee exchange system is screening coffee by bean size. Larger beans are thought to be of higher quality than smaller beans, but there are a heck of a lot of other factors that go into coffee quality, too. That being said, you’ll almost always see Kenyan coffees with letters attached to their names, like AA (the largest screen size), or, in our case today, PB, which means “peaberry.”

About 10% of the coffee production in Kenya is PB grade. Usually when you pop open a coffee cherry you’ll find two coffee seeds (beans) inside, which is why most coffee has that characteristic shape of being flat on one side and domed on the other. The flat sides are pushed together in the center of the cherry as the seeds mature. Peaberries have a cool round, sort of American football shape to them because peaberries grow one per coffee cherry. Since there is no second seed to push up against and flatten, they have a different shape.

Dapper & Wise’s peaberry comes from Kamacharia, a coffee-growing town in Kenya, but that’s all the information they have except for tasting notes of, “red grape, papaya and honeydew melon.”

Half the fun of peaberry coffee is the tiny, round beans! They look cool and, from a visual perspective, they looked nicely roasted. I had this coffee as AeroPress (inverted method) and through my Gino pourover. You can read more about my specific brew methods here.

This is a fruity and bright cup but doesn’t come off as “acidic” to me. Let me explain… those fruit flavors and the bright notes a lot of people like in coffee are from compounds that are acids, from a chemistry perspective. That doesn’t mean they are eating the enamel off your teeth or burning a hole through your stomach, though! Sometimes I get nice, sweet fruit flavors from these acids and other times they will hit my cheeks and tongue with a bit of “zing!” like lemon or lime.

In this case the fruits are sweet and full but my perception of the acid component is minimal. This is a medium-bodied coffee and, sorry for the buzzword, juicy! There is some grape and tangerine up front and I get the honeydew melon Dapper & Wise described in the tail end and aftertaste of this coffee.

This is a delicious, bright coffee and, as far as some of the Kenyan coffees I’ve had recently, relatively restrained, so I think it’s a good choice for either the Kenya aficionado or someone who is just dipping their toe into the amazing coffees of this country. If you’re looking for a coffee with lots of sugar development and a heavy low-end, though, this is not the one for you. I love it and I think Dapper & Wise did a great job roasting it!