It has been a while since I’ve shared any coffee from San Diego’s Manzanita Roasting Co. with you, and this morning we get to start the week off with their Kenya Gachatha AB, a coffee Manzanita is very excited about. Let’s check it out!
MANZANITA ROASTING CO. KENYA GACHATHA AB
Weston and Sam Nawrocki have been roasting excellent coffee under the Manzanita moniker since late 2015 and in that short period of time they’ve become one of my favorite California-based coffee roasters! Wes is a classically trained chef and sommelier and his wife, Sam, is part of the family that has run Bernardo Winery for 125 years. With culinary and wine chops like that, you know their coffee is going to be top-notch, and it always is.
Today’s coffee is Manzanita’s Gachatha AB. Gachatha is a coffee “factory,” which is not exactly what we in the West probably think of when we hear the word. Coffee factories are simply washing stations and mills that process coffee from the cherries that are picked from the trees into the beans that are sold to roasters. The Gachatha mill is located in Nyeri, about 150km north of Nairobi, and it handles coffee from about 1,100 smallholder farmers. Coffee grows around 1750-1900masl there. Kenyan mills more or less set the standard for excellent coffee washing practices and it’s one of the reasons people love Kenyan coffee so much. This offering from Manzanita is a mix of SL28 and SL34 varieties, the two “classic” coffees that are so well known for their bright acidity and citrus fruitiness. Manzanita tekks us that, “This is a special cup of Kenyan coffee… It’s a gorgeous burst of confections and floral notes across the tongue with unabashed fruit intensity…” They give us tasting notes of, “red currant, orange blossom, candy” which is not the typical Kenyan profile, so I’m intrigued!
I used my standard pourover method of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino. My Handground grinder was set to 3 and for the best consistentcy I use Third Wave Water for all my brewing. This produced a medium-bodied coffee that was sweet and inviting right off the bat. The front of the sip has a caramel and honey sweetness that quickly transitions into lots of fruit in the mid-sip. There’s a lot going on here… I ‘m getting some orange juice juiciness, acidity and sweetness, some grapefruit notes, almost more like a grapefruit candy, and something darker…. I don’t know that I’ve ever had red currants, but I am getting something that reminds me of raisins that carries into the late sip, finish and, especially, the aftertaste. SL28 coffee is classically bright and grapefruity, often having a lot of pithiness (the white stuff on the inside of the peel) or a bracing, almost shocking character. The grapefruit note in this coffee is neither of those. It’s more of a grapefruit juice or the fruit itself and it’s sweet and delicious.
This coffee ends bright, fruity and sweet and that raisin note carries into the aftertaste along with a bit of bitterness that I really enjoy and even a bit of tartness in the warmer cup. This is an interesting coffee, for sure! It has a lot of familiar flavors I would expect from a Kenyan coffee, but each of them has a bit of a twist, turning this cup into something quite uniique and unexpected! The acidity and complexity of Kenyan coffees can sometimes make them less drinkable to me (in other words, after a half cup or so I’m done) but I don’t find that at all in this cup, even though there is so much going on and I would call this a very complex coffee. The flavors work so well together that despite having a lot of complexity, it’s surprisingly easy to drink. Even though I don’t think any of the flavors in this coffee remind me of wine at all, it strikes me as being wine-like in how the flavors work together and are layered. What a coffee! It’s full of surprises, all of them good!