We first saw Modest Coffee here on KCcoffeegeek.com earlier this year with their natural process Kochere. Modest Coffee is based out of Chicago, IL and they offer subscriptions as well as single bags. They name their subscriptions as “levels” and they sent me a bag of their current “Collector” coffee, which is their level for rare or unique coffees that cup at 90+ scores. When I reviewed their natural Kochere I liked aspects of it, but thought it was roasted too dark for the bean origin and that that had taken away from what it could’ve been. When I got an email from Modest recently saying they had some new coffees to share, I was eager to see what they would send!
Today’s coffee is their “Collector” level Kichwa Tembo AA, a Kenyan coffee from the Maasai Mara area of south-southwestern Kenya. You can buy this coffee on subscription from Modest Coffee or as a single 12oz bag for $18. The “AA” in the name is the size of coffee bean. Kenyan coffee lots are sold by bean size, with AA being the largest and traditionally thought to be the best in quality, although AB lots and the tiny Peaberry grade can be fantastic, too.
This coffee comes from a co-op of farmers just outside of the Kichwa Kembo Wildlife Reserve in Kenya but I don’t have varietal or altitude information to share. Like virtually all Kenyan coffees, this one is fully washed and sun-dried.
Kenyan coffees have been pretty awesome for my palate this year and this one is a bit different than some of the others I’ve had recently, but still a really enjoyable coffee. I drank this coffee both as a Gino pourover (1:15 ratio, 4 minutes total brew time) as well as an inverted AeroPress (2 minutes brew time). The shorter brew time and finer grind I use in my AeroPress is usually the best method for Kenyan coffees in my arsenal, but this time the Gino won out by a landslide!
The dry fragrance and the wet aroma on this coffee were full of caramelized sugars and a sun-dried tomato effect that is not uncommon in Kenyan coffees. Tomato seems like a weird aroma or flavor to find in coffee, but it’s this unique melange of sweetness, acidity and savory that really does evoke tomatoes! I got hints of that in the flavor, too, but in this coffee it was more of an aroma.
This coffee had a creamy mouthfeel with an overall relatively light body and lingering aftertaste of raisin and hints of tomato. Kenyan coffees are prized for their bright acidity and this one fulfills the promise but it’s a little restrained compared to some I’ve had this year. The acidity falls into the grapefruit category for me, bright with a little grapefruit-like bitterness, yet still sweet. The thing that really struck me about Modest’s Kichwa Tembo is the undercurrent of sugary sweetness. Incredibly, my pourover cups bordered on being cloying in their sweetness, but the grapefruit acidity and the tomato/citrus fruitiness in the cup leant enough tartness to balance it out. This coffee is super sweet and has an interesting complexity to it that I really enjoyed. It changed quite a bit as it cooled and there was a lot to explore in each sip.
This is a really interesting example of a Kenyan coffee from Modest and I think they did a good job roasting it. It’s unique, in a good way, in a year where Kenyan coffees have been exceptional, which is saying a lot!