This has been a great time for discovering new roasters on KC Coffee Geek and this morning is no exception! We’re heading off to Kenya by way of Lone Oak Coffee Co., a northern Virginia roastery. Slurp!
LONE OAK COFFEE CO. KENYA AA
Lone Oak Coffee Co. has roots in Hopscotch Coffee and Records, a coffee and LP shop located in Winchester, Virginia that opened around 2012 or 2013. The three owners of Hopscotch divided the business of the cafe, record shop and roasting operation into three separate businesses, with the roasting arm, owned by Sam Kayser and Randy Beeman, becoming Lone Oak Coffee Co. Lone Oak continued to roast coffee for Hopscotch as well as branch out into the area’s wholesale market. In November, 2016, Lone Oak Coffee Co. moved out of the 15×15 corner of Hopscotch it had been in until that point and into a 2100 square foot facility with more space for coffee storage, the Diedrich IR12 roaster, a training setup for wholesale clients, space for latte art throwdowns and local barista comps and plans to expand by adding a small sample roaster and a big Loring 30-kg roaster, which is a big investment. According to Sam, in the year following Lone Oak’s split from Hopscotch, the business had quadrupled, with their coffee being served in a lot of northern Virginia locations. Lone Oak also pulled down two bronze medals in the 2016 Golden Bean North America contest, one of which was for their Kenya AA I’m reviewing this morning.
There isn’t much info about this coffee on Lone Oak’s site, other than that they say, “A brilliant coffee! Tart lemon, structured acidity, complex candied sweetness. A shining example of a world class coffee.” Otherwise we don’t know which part of Kenya this is from. It is labeled “AA” which is the convention used in Kenya to sort coffee lots by size. AA beans are the biggest. And, as luck would have it, Lone Oak’s site is showing this coffee as temporarily sold out, but it will be back. Shoot them an email to find out when. Side note: I know a fair amount of the coffees I review here end up being unlisted on the roasters’ site or sold out by the time the review posts. That’s the nature of products like this that either rotate in and out of availability by the roasters’ choice and in other cases they simply sell out faster than expected. I do ask roasters to send coffees that have plenty of stock so they will be available when KC Coffee Geek readers read my reviews, but this is not always predictable and so my apologies for when the coffees you’re reading about aren’t ready for purchase!
I used my standard pourover method for this coffee of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set to 3 and I use Third Wave Water for all my brewing and espresso needs. This made a full-side-of-medium bodied coffee with a relatively dense, creamy mouthfeel. There is a lot of sweetness in this cup right in the front of the sip. Maybe some light caramel tones. About 1/3 of the way into the sip a lot of citrus acidity comes in, which is to be expected from a Kenyan coffee, which are typically known for brightness and lots of citrus-forward notes. There is definitely a lot of pink grapefruit in the acidity, but it has plenty of sweetness to balance it out. I would go so far as to say that this is almost more of a pink grapefruit candy or at least the fruit itself without pith or peel. Some Kenyan coffees have a harsher bitterness wrapped in with the acidity, which calls up the peel more for me, but for as grapefruit-forward as this AA is from Lone Oak, it’s pretty mellow and balanced out, too. There’s a little bit of orange juice/grapefruit juice tone in the acidity, too. It’s bright and citric but also sweet and delicious. In the front end of the sip I’m getting a bit of warm baking spices, too, and that comes out in the long aftertaste, if you can control yourself to let your palate rest for a while between sips! This is a “juicy” coffee, which to me means it hits my cheeks and palate in a way that encourages more and faster sipping.
This is a nice coffee. It’s very well balanced, bright and fruity yet plenty sweet to balance that out. Kenyan coffees can sometimes be a little abrasive or a little tough to drink much of because they can be so bright and so aggressive that it can take away from the enjoyment of the cup, but this is not one of those coffees. This coffee manages to have the aspects I love in coffee of complexity and interesting flavor notes along with tons of sweetness and balance that give it lots of drinkability. A winner for sure! This coffee well-earned that bronze Golden Bean award!