Halfwit Coffee Roasters are a Chicago-based company whose bags I’ve been admiring on Instagram for quite some time. I was finally able to score some samples from them and so today I am having a look at their Rwanda Kanzu. Doing some research on Halfwit revealed some interesting facts.
They share not only roasting space and equipment, but also the roaster himself, Chris Oppenhuis, with Gaslight Coffee Roasters in the Logan Square neighborhood. Edit 2/18/16: The gang from Gaslight were kind enough to comment on this article that while Halfwit and Gaslight still share roasting space and equipment, Chris is no longer with either company. I didn’t know Chris’s last name, but once I put two and two together I realized he is very active in the Kansas City coffee scene, having worked with Second Best in the past and he’s currently roasting at Thou Mayest. Halfwit is also partnered up with Fritz Pastry and The Wormhole, the cafe side of the business. 1
The coffee I’m looking at today is from the small East African nation of Rwanda. Still recovering from civil war and strife, Rwanda is fast becoming a favorite coffee region for a lot of coffee drinkers. This particular offering comes from Kanzu, a washing station located in the southwest part of the country near Lake Kivu and nestled in a valley surrounded by the mountains of Nyamasheke. In addition to loving their bag design, Halfwit have proven to have a great amount of information on their website, which I can appreciate, big time! You can buy this coffee for $20/12oz bag.
Some further details on this coffee… it consists of Bourbon varietal seeds grown at 2000masl or higher and the coffee is wet processed. Tasting notes for this coffee include, “Muscovado, cranberry, fresh butter.” Quite awesomely, Halfwit appear to have PDF info sheets on all their coffees which feature information about the coffee as well as brewing suggestions. This one includes specific recipes for Fetco, V60, Chemex and Aeropress. I stuck with my trusty Gino pourover dripper using Kalita 185 white filters and my usual 1:15 ratio for a total brew time of about 4 minutes.
A lot of the coffees I’ve been drinking lately have been sweet and heavier, so this very bright Rwandan coffee really stands out. The acidity of this coffee really plays the central role for me. I was getting a lemon-lime note from it when freshly brewed but as it cooled and opened up the coffee settled into more of a lemon acidity. That being said, it was soft, not a harsh puckering acidity! This coffee has a nice sweetness to it, too, which helps balance the brightness in the cup. The sugary sweetness of this Kanzu reminded me a bit of figs and I also picked up a bit of bran flake in the sweetness of the warmer cup, but that seemed to settle out as the cup cooled off. The body on this coffee is quite light and the aftertaste was rather short-lived. I didn’t find this coffee to be super complex, which is fine with me, but it had nice structure to it and was an easy drinker, which is not always the case with bright coffees. Too much complexity in a really bright coffee really cuts down on the drinkability, for me personally, so the delicious sweetness and bright lemon-tart acidity was a perfect complement for a light, almost effervescent morning drinker. And getting to use The Wormhole mug I bought from my new pals in Chicago was the icing on the cake!
Probably against better judgment I’m going to run some through my espresso setup, too, and we’ll see what happens! I suspect this one is too bright to work well as espresso but I’ve thought that before and have been pleasantly surprised, so why not?