We’re back in Miami this morning (spiritually, but I wish physically!) for the last our of tour of southern Florida coffees courtesy of the awesome Andrew Giambarba! This time we’re looking at one of Miami’s newest roasters, Per’La Specialty Roasters and a AA Kenya selection. Links, then drinks!
Nowbrewing.coffee – Andy Giambarba’s website
PER’LA SPECIALTY ROASTERS KENYA NYERI GIAKANJA AA
If you spend enough time in the world of specialty coffee, you start to think that the starter kit includes a pair of selvedge jeans, Red Wing Iron Ranger boots, gift certificate for one sleeve of tattoos, beard oil and a fixed gear bicycle for transportation (and I’m poking fun… I love my coffee homies and if I were skinnier I’d wear selvedge, too! LOL),so when I started doing my research on Miami’s Per’La, a photo of two clean-cut guys in dress pants and button up shirts was not what I expected. After recovering from the shock to my system (it’s Friday after Thanksgiving… I get to use some artistic license!), it would seem that Paul Massard’s and Chris Nolte’s trajectory into the world of coffee was also not exactly the standard dishwasher to barista to person-who-does-everything-else one that so many in coffee seem to have taken.
Paul and Chris were in the same University of Miami fraternity, graduating in 2005 and heading their separate ways. Paul eventually picked up his Q-grader certification and, proof that this is a small world, he ended up here in Kansas City where he spent five years as a green coffee buyer, production manager and QA manager at The Roasterie. After leaving The Roasterie, Paul was Director of Supply Chain at Honolulu Coffee Company, overseeing farming, roasting, production and packaging, quality assurance and purchasing departments. Chris, on the other hand, went the more traditional business route, working in development, branding and marketing for a variety of industries like hospitality, healthcare and logistics. Not a bad set of talents to pull from between these two gentlemen! Around March 2015, a “happy birthday” text message blossomed into a business plan and then full realization of Per’La Specialty Coffee, located in Miami, FL. The duo fired up their Loring Falcon in late 2015 and have been doing online sales and wholesale accounts all over southern Florida and beyond, perhaps most famously by snagging ultra-lux hotel The Setai as a flagship account.
Andy chose Per’La’s Kenya Nyeri Giakanja AA to send for my enjoyment. This 12oz/$22 bag of coffee consists of SL-28, SL-34 and Ruiru 11, a commonly found mix of varietals found in Kenya. They are grown in the 1800masl range and this is a washed coffee produced by the Giakanja Farmers Cooperative Society in Nyeri county, ground zero for coffee growing in Kenya. The co-op was founded in 1960 and has about 1,758 members with an average plot of just 1/2 acre. The “AA” in the name refers to the size of the beans. Kenyan coffee producers screen beans by size, with AA being the largest followed by AB and down to PB, the lovely little round/football shaped peaberries.
Just like Paul and Chris breaking the mold with their origin story in coffee, this Kenyan selection is not the typical super bright citrus bomb that many Kenyan coffees can be (and, boy, do I love those, too!). Per’La give us flavor notes of, “Cherry, grape, black currant, champagne” for this coffee. I was greeted by a medium bodied, mellower-than-expected first sip that, throughout its temperature range, was more balanced and even-keeled than Kenyan coffees often are. There is certainly citrus acidity, as I’d expect from a Kenyan coffee, but it’s a rounder, softer, sweeter orange tone with a hint of grapefruit rather than the brighter, edgier grapefruit pith that I often find (and, again, I like a big, sparkling, grapefruity Kenyan coffee, too… my comments are not meant to detract from those in the least!). There is an undercurrent of sugary sweetness with a bit of cherry character, especially into the finish and, the aftertaste carries a bit of a black pepper note, to me. As the cup cooled, this coffee’s acidity ramped up a bit in intensity, but overall I found this to be a nicely sweet and bright-yet-balanced cup of coffee.
As the coffee approached room temp it was more citrus-forward and was getting to be more of that classic bright Kenyan profile, but I also got some savory, tomato-like notes that often come along with the ride in a Kenyan coffee! This always-changing flavor profile added a lot of complexity and really made this a coffee to sit with for a while and enjoy through the full range of temperature. A nice introduction to Per’La and their roasting capabilities!