I turned 40 this year and the day after my birthday, in March, I won an Instagram giveaway that was being done by Mr. Espresso! I have never won anything in my life, so I was excited as hell to get this unexpected birthday gift! A couple weeks later I received a box with three bags of Mr. Espresso coffee and this review is of the one I opened first, the Rwanda Dukunde Kawa, available here for a shocking $13/bag! Even though this coffee is listed currently in the website’s “espresso” category, it is actually considered one of their “light roast” drip coffees and I found it to be very tasty as a dual use coffee.
The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative is located in central Rwanda near a gorilla habitat and most of the farmers are female. They donate 10% of their profits to helping build other washing stations in Rwanda. This coffee is 100% bourbon that has been washed and the coffees of the Dukunde Kawa co-op grow at 1500-2000masl.
What sets Mr. Espresso apart (and you should read the history of the company) is their use of wood, instead of gas, as their roasting fuel. It has advantages and disadvantages that you can read about on their site, but these beans were insanely beautiful, with a gorgeous sheen on them (but not exposed oil) when they came pouring out of the bag. This is some of the best looking coffee I have seen, but how does it taste? I had bought wood-roasted coffee from another roaster about two years ago, wondering if it gets smoke flavor (it does not) like the lapsang souchong (very smoky) tea I was loving at the time. Wood-roasted coffee tastes like normal coffee, it doesn’t get smoked as it roasts.
Mr. Coffee’s cupping notes (not sure if that is cupping as in slurp, slurp, slurp with a spoon, or not) read, “Concord grape, cinnamon apple, lime effervescence.” The website also recommends it as espresso for “adventurous palates” because of “electric fruit notes” and “punchy acidity.” aybe I’ve spent too much time slurping down third wave espresso but I actually found this coffee pretty tame as espresso (but delicious) compared to the Kenyan’s or SO Ethiopians I’ve been punched in the mouth with from an espresso machine!
So, I tried this coffee both as espresso as well as Chemex and Gino dripper, both with a 15:1 coffee to water ratio. As espresso it is bright, definitely not a traditional Italian shot, but it is not a third wave teeth enamel remover, either! I found deep, dark chocolate in my cup as well as some grape notes and a floral, nearly perfumed aftertaste. It was really good and I was without a proper espresso when I opened this bag, so I’ve been drinking a shot a day of this coffee, gladly!
I didn’t see a big difference in the Chemex and Gino for this Rwandan coffee. There’s a lot of dark, almost burned sugar aromas that come off the cup, as well as cocoa and dark caramel. It has a heavy, dense flavor of cocoa and darkly caramelized sugar in the hot cup. As this coffee cools I found that it opened up and got a bit brighter. I found the apple and cinnamon described in Mr. Espresso’s tasting notes as well as lime. The lime acidity was less pith or juice and sweeter than the lime I get in a lot of coffees, like the zest of the lime peel.
The body of the coffee itself was on the lighter side of medium for me with a pretty quick aftertaste. I found strawberry flavors in the finish.
I hate to say it, but I didn’t have huge expectations for this coffee as I had the impression that it’s more of a “grocery store” brand for some reason, but I was completely wrong. I loved this coffee both as a drip as well as espresso and I’m anxious to bust into the other two bags they roasted up for me! This is a definite winner for me and I cannot believe that it is $13/bag!
Featured Image of the wooden sign is from http://www.tinkeringmonkey.com/mr-espresso/.