I love starting a new work week with a new roaster and today I have Ki Roasters, who I’ve been stalking on Instagram for a while now, and their current yellow honey coffee from Costa Rica. The fragrance in the bag smelled amazing and I’ve been looking forward to getting into this coffee since I connected with Ki a while back!
KI ROASTERS COSTA RICA SABANILLA DE ALAJUELA
Before I start up about Ki Roasters and this coffee, I want to make sure I don’t bury this lead… this is a yellow honey coffee from the famed Las Lajas micromill in Costa Rica who are regionally renowned, if not world renowned, for their innovative coffee processing. Now that that’s out of the way… This morning I’m checking out this first coffee that I’ve had from Ki Roasters, owned and operated by Bert Davis in Littleton, CO in the ‘burbs of Denver. The name, Ki, comes from the Greek word, “chay,” meaning “revive” or “awaken” and it’s a Biblical reference from Genesis 2:7. Ki Roasters want to be an integral part of your own daily awakening, helping to refresh and transform you into a “living being” in the morning. Bert started roasting coffee like a lot of us, with a simple home machine that was a gift to him in January 2016. He quickly got obsessed with roasting coffee, as is often the case, and between that obsession and a pragmatic need for money so he could tour with his band in the summer of 2016, Bert started to sell some of the coffee he was roasting. In 2017, Bert founded Ki Roasters, officially. Looking through social media posts it looks like Bert was roasting every small batch on a tiny Huky 500 and so I hope he has upgraded to a larger roaster as of this writing!
This morning’s coffee is Ki’s current Costa Rican offering. Bert has this coffee labeled as Sabanilla de Alajuela, from Finca Calle Liles owned by Francisca and Oscar Chacon. The Chacon’s farm is located in Sabanilla de Alajuela, hence the name, but fans of honey process coffee or Costa Rican coffees in general may know the Chacons better for their involvement with Las Lajas micromill. The Chacons are 3rd generation coffee growers and they are deeply committed to the environment of their home where they are raising their family. Based on this deep commitment, the Chacons have been extremely innovative in the use of water-saving honey processing, natural processing, and also organic certification for their farm and mill. Las Lajas specializes in honey processing (which doesn’t use any honey, but rather involves removing the skins of the coffee cherry fruits from the seeds/beans inside, but leaving some of the goopy mucilage, or honey, behind on it). This particular coffee is a “yellow honey” coffee from the Chacons, which means 100% of the mucilage is left intact on the coffee beans and they are turned hourly on the raised mesh beds. Red and black honeys from this mill are turned less frequently.
This lot is Caturra and Catuai that is grown around 1650masl. Bert gives us tasting notes of, “lime, honey, cherry and floral.” I used my standard 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral pourover. My Handground grinder was set to 3 and I used Third Wave Water in my preparations. Even in the bag, this coffee smelled great! It struck me as very wine-like and I was also getting a lot of esters (not quite straight up banana notes, but in that general territory) from the beans. The dry grounds had a very artisinal dark chocolate with fruity esters and ferment for me. In the cup, the aroma from the brewed coffee is a little fermenty with lots of sweet caramel notes and a hint of chocolate.
A lot of times with honey process coffees, I’m hard-pressed to notice a difference from a washed coffee, but that isn’t the case with this one. If I had to guess blindly, I’d call this a Central American natural and I probably would’ve guessed Nicaragua as this has a lot of the same characteristics of the slightly funky Nicaraguan naturals I love so dearly! This is a medium-bodied coffee that starts with a caramel sweetness in the sip and then takes on a tartness in the middle and end of the sip. There is green apple acidity in there that changes more into a lime acidity in the latter part of the sip. I’d call it more of a limeade vibe than straight up lime juice or peel, which would be less sweet and more bitter, to me. In the second half of the sip there is some cherry, more of a tart cherry, and a healthy amount of bitterness in the finish and aftertaste, which gives this that very “adult” tone to Central American naturals that I find totally different from the sweeter, more candy-like Ethiopian nats. This coffee has a tinge of that natural ferment funk, too, which is so surprising to me since this is a a yellow honey and Las Lajas’s “lightest” honey process coffee, meaning it should lean more toward tasting like a washed coffee than a natural. But, hey, this coffee flips the script a little and I love it for that!
I know my description may not be coming together that nicely, but this is a nicely cohesive coffee. The more it cools off, the more the lime notes take the center stage. It does have a cherry limeade vibe to it, overall, if that cherry limeade were maybe a a less sweet alcohol/cocktail version rather than the sticky sweet concoction from Sonic. This is what I love about Central American naturals (even though this is a honey and not a natural)… it’s that bitterness, that bit of sourness/tartness, that really does it for me. I think that does take away a little from the drinkability of these types of coffees compared to a super sweet, berry-forward Ethiopian natural, but it’s a trade I’m more than willing to make. There is plenty of sweetness in this cup to balance out the lime acidity and bitterness, too.
Man, this is so good! If you like naturals and you’re looking for something different from the usual Ethiopian profile, or you like naturals but not necessarily all the ferment that comes with a lot of them, then this coffee will be right up your alley. It’s sweet, fruity, balanced, a little funky and it features some sophisticated bitterness in the finish. It’s wonderful! What a great introduction to Ki Roasters for me!