This has been a wild, wild week, Dear Reader. Two naturally-processed coffees and one that was so intensely explosive it might as well have been a natural…
Well, today wraps up the Table’s week dedicated to Augie’s Coffee Roasters and we’re about to find out how it’s going to finish. Before I go any further, though, my many thanks to the fine folks at Augie’s—your benevolence is greatly appreciated.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re brewing up Kenya Kaimbu AA, from Augie’s Coffee Roasters in Redlands, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The Kaimbu coffee-milling factory is located in the Kiambu District, which borders just north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Situated within the greater Central Province, the Kaimbu association is part of a legacy of world-renowned producing regions. The coffees in these regions grow at a much higher altitude, and temperatures naturally range on the cooler side. In addition, the plants grow in highly fertile, well-drained soil. For coffee shrubs, these factors help produce well-developed seeds, which translates into a palatable and refined cup.
Kaimbu AA is characterized by three varietals: SL-28, SL-34, and Ruiru 11. The term ‘SL’ stands for Scott Labs, which set off to improve on the original Bourbon varietal from the French-occupied island of Reunion. These coffees are specifically cultivated for their distinctly black-currant and red-fruit qualities.
Kaimbu uses a screening system to grade their coffees in order to determine quality. AA happens to be one of the higher grades of coffee in Kenya, being that this is a much larger bean. This means the beans pass through 18/64ths of an inch sieve perforations, but cannot pass through size 16, the next size lower.
The beans are larger than normal, which tends to fetch a higher price at the weekly Nairobi Coffee Exchange. While a larger bean size may indicate good development at high altitude, it is not a reliable indicator. Kenyan coffees are some of the most prized coffees due to geographic influences, excellent sourcing in cultivars (notably, the SL-28 and SL-34 varietals), and through one of the most organized coffee exchanges in the world.
Kenyan coffees are also rare in their processing method. Unlike other washed-processed coffees, they undergo a longer fermentation time, which results in some of the brightest, cleanest and most complex coffees out of any other producing region.
origin: Kaimbu County, Kenya
farm: Komothai Farmers Cooperative Society
elevation: 1653 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL24, Ruiru 11
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma coming out of this cup is sweet, subtle, and soft. It’s faintly floral and perfumy, with notes of rose hips and cherry blossom; it’s a bit malic, with juicy red delicious apple and plum; it’s even a little savory with a bit of salted caramel.
All of these notes carry over into the first few sips of this delicious cup. Caramel apples and Laffy Taffy greet the palate first—this is the epitome of an autumnal beverage. It even has faint traces of spicy cinnamon in the finish, making the comparable, almost, to apple cider. It’s belly-warming, spicy, soothing.
As it cools off the coffee simply melts. Soft and subtle red fruits dominate each sip up front—think cherry, red delicious apple, raspberry, cranberry—then it gets very sweet, candied even, with flavors of red licorice and watermelon Jolly Ranchers. What’s really beautiful, though, about the Kenya Kaimbu at this point is its mouthfeel—it’s soft and a little syrupy, coating the entire palate while a spiced red wine acidity sweeps over the tongue and leaves behind a fresh, clean feeling. This washing away of all the flavors up front reveals more caramel, a bit of Tupelo honey, and cashews in the finish.
Full body; soft, syrupy mouthfeel; winy acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Kenya Kaimbu AA, from Augie’s Coffee Roasters, is red all the way through. Furthermore, and most importantly, it’s delicious all the way through.
This is a coffee that doesn’t overwhelm you, doesn’t grab you by the lapels and hold you up against a wall, doesn’t slap you in the face—this coffee quietly sneaks up on you, then suddenly erupts onto the palate like a Gusher. While it’s a very delicious cup of coffee, it’s very, very, very drinkable, making it all too easy finish off the whole cup without even realizing it.
I’ll admit it—even though I’m a coffee reviewer, the first two or three times I brewed the Kenya Kaimbu I nearly finished the cup before realizing how much I loved it. It’s one of those coffee that, while you’re sipping it, you think to yourself “Hey, this coffee is pretty good.” A few minutes after finishing it, though, you’ll be exclaiming, “Wow! That was really, really good.”
Then you’ll cry big, fat tears into your empty mug—because the coffee will be gone before you even realize it.
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