If you’re a regular reader you’ll recall around Thanksgiving 2015 that I was over the moon about Ross Street Roasting Co.’s Finca Idealista, a honey process Nicaraguan coffee. I liked it enough to buy two bags of the coffee from owner and roaster, Brian Gumm, to take back to Iowa (Ross Street Roasting Co. is located in the tiny town of Toledo, IA) for Thanksgiving, and that was with 30 bags of coffee sitting on my countertop in Kansas City! LOL That really says a lot, so when Brian told me to expect a new coffee in the mail soon, I was pretty excited about it! The coffee I’m looking at today is Ross Street Coffee Co’s Kenya Barichu Farmer’s Co-op Peaberry and you can buy it directly from Ross Street in Iowa for a mere $14/12oz bag. This is a STEAL!
The coffee Brian sent is a Kenya Peaberry from the Barichu Farmer’s Cooperative Society located in the famed Nyeri region. The Barichu “society” (what Kenyans refer to as a cooperative of farmers who pool their coffee together to have it processed) uses the Gatomboya mill for processing, so you may have had this coffee under a variety of names from other roasters… Kenya, Nyeri, Barichu, Gatomboya… all are fair game when a roaster is naming their product! The Gatomboya mill is well-known for quality and Coffeeshrub, who Brian sourced this coffee from, likes their coffee enough to pay a premium directly to the co-op so they can secure the coffee before it heads to auction. That’s a risky move and it requires throwing quite a bit of money at the coffee to secure it pre-auction, and so it speaks volumes of what buyers like Coffeeshrub think of the lots when they are willing to do so!
Some other stats on this coffee before I get to the evaluation… this is a washed coffee, as you would expect from Kenya, and according to Coffeeshrub’s listing for this one only the famed SL-28 varietal is listed. SL-28 is a coffee plant cultivated by Scott Laboratories in the 1930’s and planted throughout Kenya. It’s often credited for that classic bright, fruity, sweet flavor Kenyan coffee is so famous for. This is a Peaberry selection, too. Kenyan coffee is sorted by bean size, with AA being the largest. Normally, in a coffee cherry you will find two “beans” (they’re seeds, really) growing, which gives them that flat-on-one-side appearance we all know and love. Peaberries are the name given to seeds/beans that come from cherries where there was only one inside. When roasted, these coffee beans take on a round or sort of American football shape. I personally don’t think peaberries taste any different, but some people swear by them. They do make me smile, as they’re cute!
Brian has roasted up another really good coffee! He indicated that this is a light-medium roast and that’s typical for Kenyan coffees whose acidity the roaster is trying to highlight. Darker roasts on Kenyan coffees will dial back the acidity quite a bit and enhance the chocolatey notes they are also famous for, but this one is is bright and sweet and “classic” Kenyan! I used my usual 1:15 ratio is the Gino pourover with Kalita 185 filters. After blooming, my brew time was running right about 4:00 for a 30g coffee sample (450g water), which is a little long, but these beans feel heavy in the hand, so they’re dense and as such they tend to slow down the flat-bottomed dripper a little bit. Brian’s tasting notes read, “dark honey and tropical aromas, fruity sweet flavor profile in the cup.” Let’s see!
I wasn’t getting tons of aroma from the cup but my seasonal allergies kicked in, big time, earlier this week, so I don’t trust my nose a lot right now. As the coffee cooled and opened up, this was “classic Kenyan” all the way. It’s bright right up front, but also sweet. The acidity in this coffee is mostly reminiscent of pink grapefruit for me, but there’s also that peculiar (and pleasant) savory tomato-like acidity that often comes through in Kenyan coffees. Sounds like a weird flavor combo, but it works, trust me! This coffee has a medium body with a slightly creamy mouthfeel and there is a lot of fruity and honey-like sweetness to balance all that bright acidity out. The finish is neutral, if not a tad dry, and the overall combination of flavors and feels in this coffee makes it super drinkable. This is another really nice selection from Brian and it shows how good his roasting, as well as his selection, is for the coffees he is picking out. Well done! And that price! Usually Kenyans of this caliber are going to sell in the $18-$19 range for the same weight of coffee, so what a deal!