I have been lusting (yes, lusting!) over Huckleberry Roasters coffee ever since I discovered them on Instagram a couple months ago. Readers know I am a sucker for cool packaging and their bags look awesome. They always get great reviews, too. A few weeks ago I was approached to review their Kenyan coffee, Gondo, and I jumped at the chance. The order was placed through roasters.co, who is a sort of clearinghouse for great coffee roasters. After you place an order with them your shipment comes directly from the roaster. (Edit added 10/25/14 – use code KCCOFFEEGEEK on any order from roasters.co and get 10% off!)
Somehow the shipment from Huckleberry got messed up and the box got returned to them. After it all got sorted out Huckleberry re-sent the coffee. I opened the box and found a bonus bag of their YirgZ (to be reviewed soon, also!) inside with a handwritten note thanking me for my patience and hoping this “token” would make up for the wait. Are you kidding me? What incredible and unexpected customer service! No wonder Huckleberry’s reputation is so great! But we all know it’s what’s IN the cup that matters, so without further ado…
Disclaimer: This coffee was provided for review at no cost to KCcoffeegeek by roasters.co. This is not a paid review nor did the complimentary sample affect the outcomes of my evaluation.
Gondo’s tasting notes are awesome. They say, “Bright pink grapefruit and cranberry with notes of red currant, juicy nectarine, savory tomato, subtle coconut, and sweet brown sugar.” Sounds great, doesn’t it!? Gondo is a Kenyan coffee and the way Kenya runs its coffee trade sets the bar very high. You can read all about the background on the coffee here. This coffee retails for $18 for a 10-ounce bag, which is a good price for a coffee like this.
I prepared the coffee three ways over the course of the week: AeroPress, Chemex and in my espresso machine. Even for coffees like this that aren’t intended to be espresso I generally give them a try just to see what they’ll do. As expected, Gondo was way too tart by itself to work as espresso, but I could see it working in a blend.
Kenyan coffees are known for their acidity, but don’t confuse that with unpleasant acidity that would burn your stomach, for example. When we talk about acidity in coffee it’s more like the acidity brought to a dish by squeezing a little lemon or lime on it. Adding acid to food brightens up the flavors and really enhances food in most cases. The acidity in coffee works the same way. True to its Kenyan origin, this Gondo is bright and vivacious and has great acidity without any unpleasantness.
Chemex | 30 grams of Gondo with 480 grams of water
I use the standard 1:16 ratio of coffee to water when I brew in my Chemex. I think this coffee really shines in the Chemex. With its thick filters you get a very clean cup of coffee and that seemed to enhance Gondo’s pleasant acidity. I didn’t get all the flavors described in the tasting notes, but after I brewed in the Chemex I slurped a few spoonfuls out of the cup with my cupping spoon and the flavor was definitely of red currant or cranberry. It was super bright and even caused a little bit of that salivation and pucker that occurs when you think about lemons.
The acidity carries over in the cup and seemed to build slightly as it cooled, even. I definitely got the pink grapefruit from the tasting notes, and while the coffee has nice sweetness to balance that acidity, it also has a savory element. I never would’ve said, “That reminds me of tomato!” on my own, but with the tasting notes in mind I could definitely pick up on that character.
The aftertaste on this coffee is LONG. If I put a couple minutes between sips I was picking up on a peppery, spicy finish. It was subtle, but definitely there.
AeroPress (inverted method) | 17 grams of coffee with 240 grams of water
Huckleberry’s Gondo did great in the AeroPress, too. This is where I caught the brown sugar component from the tasting notes. I made a quick AeroPress cup before hustling out the door to work the morning I was typing this and the aroma in the kitchen from the press was pure brown sugar. Like someone tossed a smoke grenade in the kitchen but instead of smoke it was brown sugar that poured out! I can’t say that my palate picked it up in the flavor, but the aroma was 100% brown sugar. I could’ve sat there for an hour and just breathed and been happy.
I found the Gondo’s acidity to be toned down a little in the AeroPres and the flavors were similar, but slightly muted overall compared with the Chemex. I made one serving and added close to an equal volume of hot water to it and that was a little too dilute. Uncut from the AeroPress it was really good, but I liked what I was getting out of the Chemex better.
AeroPress created basically the same coffee, but turned down a couple notches, basically. Still very bright, very fruity with a nice long aftertaste and the coffee held up well as the cup cooled. That aroma, though!
Overall, I love this coffee. It is complex, bright, does well as the cup cools down and is even tasty at room temperature. It is quite remarkable and the light roast Huckleberry applied to these beans does them justice. Even though the acid character of the Gondo really carries the flavors, it is well-balanced and I found this coffee really fun to drink and explore. For my first taste of Huckleberry, I am super impressed! I can’t wait to tear into that YirgZ now!