This morning we’re heading northwest from Publik’s Burundi selection to the Kenya Igutha they included in this month’s Barista Coffee Box. Let’s check it out!
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BARISTA COFFEE BOX MARCH 2017: PUBLIK COFFEE ROASTERS KENYA IGUTHA
I greatly enjoyed the Burundi I tried last week from Publik, featured in this month’s Barista Coffee Box. Barista’s best feature is that you get to try out four different coffees from the featured roaster every month, which is very cool. This coffee is not currently listed on Publik’s site, but they do have a “coming soon” selection listed in the lineup and it has an “Africa” stamp on it, so maybe Barista Coffee Box subscribers got a preview? We’ll have to wait and see! Publik is a Salt Lake City-based roaster with three awesome-looking cafes, so if you’re ever in the SLC area, it’s a must-see operation!
This morning’s coffee is from the Nyeri region of Kenya, coffee growing ground zero there, and it contains the varieties of SL28, K7 and Ruiru 11. It’s a washed coffee using Kenya’s unique and labor-intensive mix of dry and wet fermentation, part of what gives Kenya such a super reputation and unique flavor profile in the world of specialty coffee. Because Kenyan coffee farms are usually smallholder plots, like in much of Africa, Kenyan farmers pool their harvest at wet mills like Igutha, where everything is mixed together, sorted and processed. Growing altitude for this coffee is around 1700-1900masl and it’s an AA grade coffee, meaning the beans are the largest for this type of Arabica. Kenya continues the tradition of “grading” coffee by size, with AA being the largest, then AB, and so on. It really isn’t a quality grading, it’s simply a size convention and it creates a consistent bean size in the bag, which is pretty to look at!
Publik give us flavor notes of, “Caramel, stone fruit, floral, juicy acidity.” I used my standard 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral pourover with Kalita 185 filter. Handground grinder was set to 3.5 and I used Third Wave Water in my brewing, which I am still really digging the heck out of! This produced a really nice cup. I found big body and a super sweet undertone throughout the full temperature range for this coffee. This is a big coffee that really lands solidly on my palate. As you’d expect from a Kenyan coffee, there is a substantial high note in the cup, as Kenyan coffees are particulaly prized for their interesting acidity. While it’s overused to a point, this is really a very juicy coffee. By that I mean the coffee hits my cheeks and tongue in a way that seems to encourage salivation and so “juicy” is more of a feeling than a flavor note, for me.
There is a tartness to the acidity, which reminds me of dried apricot initially. Then the top note changes into a more intense flavor that is sharper and has elements of malic, phosphoric and citric acidity, to me. It’s very complex, as you can imagine. Malic acidity is what you find in apples… it’s that crisp, somewhat round acidity in a Granny Smith. Citric acidity is what you’d find in citrus fruits and it takes many forms from grapefruit (often found in Kenyan coffees), lemon, lime, orange, etc. Phosphoric acid is a little tougher to nail down, but it is credited with giving coffee a positive flavor note and also contributing to the overall sense of acidity, but it doesn’t necessarily have much of a “flavor” in and of itself. Phosphoric acid sometimes goes hand in hand with a cola note in coffee, although I am not getting a cola note in this Igutha from Publik.
Whew! So, yeah, there’s a lot going on in the acidity in this coffee, but all that being said, it’s not a super-bright, bracing coffee as far as Kenyans sometimes go. There is a ton of dense, caramel-like sweetness to anchor all those top notes and the two really play off one another beautifully. This is a really awesome cup… super sweet, super interesting acidity and yet really drinkable. I did get passes of a “dank” note at the front of most sips, but beyond that it’s a pretty clean coffee and another big-time winner from Publik and Barista Coffee Box!