I started getting coffee from MyCoffeePub.com’s subscription service in May 2015. That first coffee I received was an Ethiopian from Tinker Coffee Co. This month, MCP has come full-circle with another coffee, this time from Malawi, from our friends in Indianapolis! This is my first taste of coffee from Malawi and hopefully not my last! Links, then drinks!
MYCOFFEEPUB 10/16: TINKER COFFEE CO. MALAWI MISUKU
Tinker Coffee Co. is a roaster based out of Indianapolis, Indiana (man, has Indiana been showing up a lot on the KC Coffee Geek radar a lot lately, or what?!). They do wholesaling, direct online sales, and direct sales from the roastery as well as public cupping and other fun stuff. Brothers-in-law Steve Hall and Jeff Johnson founded the company in 2014 and they are at the heart of Indianapolis’s specialty coffee scene. 1
My Coffee Pub is a monthly subscription that I am absolutely in love with. I won’t spend too much time fawning over my pals at MCP because I do need to get to the coffee, but there are two things I like about this sub: you get what you get, and it’s always a surprise. Once a month a bag of specialty coffee lands on my doorstep and it’s always a great selection. The guys at MCP have great taste! I LOVE the surprise part of it, too. It always makes my day! Now, coffee…
My Coffee Pub chose Tinker’s Malawi Misuku for this month’s selection. I drink a lot of different coffee, as you know, and this is my first taste of coffee from this country. So you know I had to research why… Malawi is a long, thin country bordered by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania. It’s a poor, landlocked country challenged by ethnic diversity (which, in Africa, unfortunately often translates to violence) and HIV/AIDS. Its money comes mainly from tobacco, as well as tea, sugar and coffee. Oh, and, apparently, Malawi farmers grow some of the most sought-after cannabis in the world. LOL 2
Even though coffee has been grown in Malawi since the late 1800’s, it is a newcomer to the specialty coffee market, and based on this selection from Tinker, I think we’ll be seeing more and more from there. Until quite recently, Malawi processors simply graded “1” and “2” and made very little other differentiation in the coffee being collected and sorted. They’ve recently moved to the AAA, AA, AB, etc grading-by-size convention that other countries in Africa use. And, most notably, Malawi is blessedly free of the exchange and auction system found in Kenya, Ethiopia and most other African growing countries, meaning that coffee can be bought direct from farmers, processors and co-ops. That is big news! 3
Malawi has a lot of Kenya’s SL-28 growing there as well as Ethiopian Gesha, which was planted because of its resistance to certain blights. This selection is Catimor, Gesha, Agano and Nyika and it comes from the Misuku Cooperative in the northern region of Chitipa District. This part of Malawi is lush and the altitudes of 1700-2000 meters above sea level means good coffee! This is a washed coffee with cupping notes of, “Orange blossom, cocoa and cranberry streusel.”
I used my usual 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino pourover with Kalita 185 filters. I got aromas that had hints of maple syrup, but also
some musty, earthy scents. This is a sweet coffee, but more than anything, it’s bright! Fans of Kenyan coffees will find a lot to like in this selection. At warmer temperature, I found a heavy body and good weight on my palate with some lemon-lime acidity and citrus fruit sweetness. The body seemed to thin out a little and the acidity climbed as the cup cooled. At warmer temperatures I was getting the character of both Kenyan coffees as well as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, but as the cup cooled, it just got brighter and brighter. I found cranberry tartness in the cup and a buttery, spiced finish and aftertaste, especially in the cool cup. Some mustiness persisted with my cups and I don’t know why this has been a feature of so many coffees for me over the past handful of months. I keep all my brewing equipment spotlessly clean, so it has to be the coffees, but why I’m so sensitive to it is beyond me.
UPDATE 12/9/16: IDENTIFIED SOURCE OF MUSTY FLAVORS IN COFFEES I WAS REVIEWING AND IT WAS ALGAE THAT WAS IN THE MUNICIPAL WATER SUPPLY DUE TO OUR UNUSUALLY HOT AND LONG SUMMER THIS YEAR. NO FAULT OF THE COFFEE ITSELF! MY APOLOGIES TO READERS AND ROASTERS!!!
Nonetheless, I could easily get past it and what remained was a beautiful, bright example of an up and coming African coffee region. In a blind taste, I would definitely call this a Kenyan. I wouldn’t call this the most balanced cup until it almost approaches room temp, so you need to be a fan of a bright, acidity-forward coffees to enjoy this the most. But, man, what a cup!