January 2014 coffee subscription: Kenya Gichathaini
Black Oak Coffee Roasters welcomes you to our world tour of coffee producing nations. We start your subscription with one of the best cooperatives in the great coffee-producing nation of Kenya: Gichathaini. First, some background about this distinctive lot. It is not always possible for roasters to get great coffees from one year to the next because many countries just don’t have the necessary infrastructure and resources to keep production consistent. Kenya, and in particular, Gichathaini, is an exception to this rule. Kenya regulates coffee production more rigorously than any other country to ensure farmers are paid top dollar for growing, harvesting and processing only exceptional coffee. We'll outline a few key factors here:
ALTITUDE: Great coffee is usually grown higher than 1500 meters above sea level (MASL). Gichathaini is sourced from farms between 1600 and 1900 meters.
CULTIVAR: Coffee variety has a huge effect on flavor. Most of the best farms in Kenya use SL-28 and SL-34 varieties. SL stands for Scotch Labs who worked to select the best from many different strains of the bourbon varietal that have since been showed to produce bright fruit and ample acidity.
HARVEST: Kenyan farmers know that only picking ripe cherries will result in the highest cup score. Cherries that are selected then undergo a long, extensive fermentation and washing process. Both the length of the fermentation and drying contribute to the typical bright, fruited Kenyan cup. Once the seeds are picked, washed and dried, the Kenyan method of drying coffee on raised parabolic beds ensures uniformity and a long storage life.
MARKET ACCESS: Finally, Kenya has done a great job of guaranteeing that top quality lots find their way to buyers seeking the highest quality. At each mill lots are separated and given a sample roast with those scoring the highest going to specialty buyers like Black Oak.
AROMA: Dry and wet grounds envelope the nose with cooked berries and chocolate pudding combining like a German Black Forest cake.
FLAVOR: A full, round and juicy mouth feel. Red current and raspberry dominate, finishing with a wash of fruit punch.We hope you enjoy this coffee as much as we do. Here’s to many more exceptional coffees to come.