This coffee is insane and I love it! February’s Japanese coffee subscription from Kurasu and Good Coffee featured Golpie Coffee of Nagoya, Japan. The first of the two coffees I grabbed to try is their Kenya Kigwandi and I can tell you that the coffee inside was not given away by the extremely conservative looking package!
Golpie Coffee is located in Nagoya, Japan, a city of 2.5 million people. Good Coffee has a nice photo album showing the clean lines of their shop. Golpie Coffee got its start before WWII under the name, Matsuya Coffee. The company was a coffee and product wholesaler to the many kissaten, or traditional style coffee houses once found throughout Japan. In 2015, under the leadership of the company’s third generation, Kawai Yuya, Matsuya went through a name change and rebranded as Golpie Coffee.
Kawai san won the 2015 Japan Coffee Roasting Championship and will be competing at the worldwide level, too. You can read more about Golpie and Kawai san’s approach to coffee in his interview on Kurasu’s blog.
One of my favorite things about this subscription so far has been getting to see the small sample packets. Even though I can’t read a word of Japanese, I’ve always had a love for the writing of the language and I am crazy about Japanese product packaging in general, so this has been a nice side-effect of the subscription! The two 100-gram packets I found in this month’s box were conservative, to say the least! Golpie’s logo features three solid color silhouette’s of faces (perhaps a symbol of Kawai san being the third generation of this company?) with the tagline, “Vision of Identity” on it. On the front is a little slip pocket for a business card and a red card (doing my best to navigate their website, it seems as though African coffees get a red-colored card) with the name and volume of the coffee on it. But the coffee inside is as wild as I have had in a long time! It’s like a guy in dark wool suit who you take out on a business dinner and he turns out to be a party maniac!
This coffee is from the Nyeri region of Kenya, consisting of SL-28 and SL-34 varietals and it is a washed coffee like most from Kenya tend to be. The description for this coffee on the included info sheet from Kurasu/Good Coffee:
Gorgeous flavors reminiscent reminiscent of pineapple and tropical fruit. You will taste the fruity flavor tones you often get with Kenya, while enjoying delicate and refreshing acidity, similar to dairy products. At first impression it has strong coffee acidity, but with sweetness of fruit and flowers, and an aftertaste that dissolves pleasingly.
Golpie’s own description on their website, after being run through Google Translate (always fun), mentions a “strong coffee sour” and that it has “the good acidity.”
I know both “sour” and “acidity” can be touchy subjects in the world of food, especially coffee, but this one from Golpie is both, and it’s glorious because of it! The dry fragrance of the beans themselves in the package revealed that this coffee was going to be unusual. Based on the fragrance alone, I would definitely have told you this must be a natural coffee. It has a tropical, pineapple-like and fermenty fragrance, like a pineapple that you let go a couple days too long… an almost boozy ferment coupled with tropical fruits. But, all the packaging is consistent that this is a washed, not a natural coffee.
The ground beans have a more standard Kenya fragrance. Sweet, that “coconut-that-isn’t-coconut” aroma I get from most Kenyan coffees and still cannot put my finger on. While brewing, the aroma coming off the brew bed (I used my usual 1:15 ratio in the Gino dripper) was savory, almost onion-like the first time I made it and the second time was peachy and tropical and had hints of plums of raisins. Now onto the flavors. After my first sip, my notes read, “blueberries, ferment and lactic. Tastes like a natural?”
This coffee hit my palate like a freight train screaming out of control that is about to flip off of the rails! It is very acid-forward with tropical fruit flavors, especially pineapple. I get an aftertaste that is very pineapple, too, and also the mouthfeel of this coffee reminds me a lot of that fruit. It’s sweet and mouth-filling but it also has a wicked amount of acidity to it that attacks the side of the tongues and cheeks. This coffee was very similar in “feel” as much as flavor, to pineapple. It had that same tart-sweet character.
The sweetness is very fruity, too. I can’t say I pick up chocolate or a certain sugar note. It’s the sweetness of fruit and it can’t be separated from the acidity and, yes, sourness, that is found in the cup. Again, I can’t stress enough how much I am loving this coffee and it’s flavors. Yes, acidity is a good thing in a cup of coffee. It brightens the cup and lifts the other flavors like adding a squeeze of lemon to a steak. And, yes, the sourness is good, too! The descriptors mentioned dairy products, and, yes, there is a strong lactic acidity to this coffee that gives it a sourness that is extremely pleasant. It’s like a sour beer. If you’ve never had one, you need to get a good sour beer like a Rodenbach and try it. Sour beer sounds bad, too, but they’re glorious, and I’m finding that same type of note in this coffee.
This is the first coffee to really knock my socks off in a while. I’ve had a run of excellent coffees, don’t get me wrong, but the lactic and fruit acidities in this cup are so different and so delicious and compelling it’s impossible not to classify it as almost an entirely different beverage than, say, a sugar bomb from Guatemala.
This is a fantastic coffee and I cannot wait to tear open Golpie’s “funky natural” Limoncillo that is their other feature of the month! If you can score a bag of this Kenya Kigwandi, do so. The translated website was a bit confusing and I get the sense that it is only available in their brick and mortar shop, but you may want to shoot them an email and you might get lucky. Incredible, seriously.