Peaks Coffee Co. Kenya AA Kichwa Tembo

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Good morning and happy Monday! What better way to start the week off than with a nice Kenyan coffee from New York’s Peaks Coffee Co. to jumpstart things? Sam and crew sent me a nice AA size selection so let’s check it out without further ado!

Peaks Coffee Co. website

Purchase directly from Peaks for $15/12oz

Peaks Coffee Co. Ethiopia Ardi review


Peaks Coffee Co’s current Kenyan selection is this Kichwa Tembo, sourced from Cafe Imports and exported from near Nairobi. It’s a lot comprised from various producers and it has SL-28, SL-34, Ruiru 11 and Batain varietals grown in the 1600-1800masl range. As is true of most Kenyan coffees, this is a washed process coffee. Kichwa Tembo means “elephant head” in Swahili and the gang at Peaks tell us that we should get flavors of “sweet tropical fruits, balanced acidity and a tartaric tomato-like finish” as well as “red grapefruit, lemonade, black currant.”

“AA” coffees are the largest size in the Kenyan grading system. Long ago it was thought that large coffee beans are better. Even though we know this is not true, the Kenyan market still screens all coffees and separates lots by size. AA is the largest, followed by AB, and so on. One of my favorite things about Kenyan coffee is the aesthetic beauty of opening a bag and seeing every bean almost the exact same size. It doesn’t bother me to see a wide variety of sizes like you would in an Ethiopian coffee, for example, but there is certainly something pleasing about the symmetry of a Kenyan coffee.

Jumping right into the cup, I used my usual 1:16 ratio (28g coffee, 450g water) in a notNeutral Gino pourover with Kalita 185 filters. I bloom for 30 seconds and then the total brew time, including the bloom, is about 3:00-3:30 (sorry, sometimes I use my timer and other times I don’t!). This method produced a nice, “classically Kenyan” cup of coffee. It’s bright and vivacious, yet sweet and pleasing.

Right at the forefront of each sip is a sweet lemon acidity that evolves into more of a grapefruit note in the middle of the sip. Unlike some Kenyan coffees that can have quite a bit of pithiness (pith is the white fuzzy stuff on the inside of the grapefruit peel), which is super-grapefruity and also a little bitter, this one was more of the fruit and sweeter without that little bitter note (which I actually like, by the way). Even though lemon and grapefruit sound pretty tart, if not downright sour, there is a huge undercurrent of sweetness in this cup keeping it from being sharp or tart. This cup has a heavy-medium body and a sweet finish that has some more lemon candy character and a lingering aftertaste with subtle notes of, maybe, chocolate and some spices. My sample was roasted 8/9/16 and this morning I made another cup to see how it’s holding up and I must say, it still tastes fantastic!

This is a delicious example of a Kenyan coffee. The roast is just right to bring out tons of sweetness and all the bright notes that Kenyan coffees are famous for without any harsh edges or imbalances. Make no mistake, this is a bright cup, but it’s like drinking liquified lemon candy and it’s a great start to a Monday morning!