Last month, if you can recall, we did a comparative cupping of Heart Coffee Roasters’ and Passion House Coffee Roasters‘ Rwanda Bufcafe. Today, we’re going to continue get as much as we can out of this farm by cupping a third version of it – Counter Culture Coffee‘s roast.
If you don’t remember the verdict the first time around, I initially liked Heart’s offering; then I tried Passion House’s amazing take on it and completely changed my mind about how I felt about Heart’s roast. The two were so wildly different from each other.
Are you ready to drink a third coffee from the same farm? Feel free to pull up a chair.
I try not to put too much stock into any roaster, because I’m one of those few specialty coffee lovers that truly believes the real magic of coffee takes place at the farm level – all the roaster is responsible for is making those flavors come out. However, in the case of the comparison of Heart and Passion House, I had no other explanation for the taste difference than “Passion House is clearly taking this roast to a ho nuva level.” Because it was vastly superior to Heart – more flavorful, better acidity, more defined notes, better rounded, superior everything.
Here we are, once again, sampling coffee from Bufcafe – the amazing Rwandan estate that’s headed up by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a dynamic woman who committed to rebuilding her farm after the death of her husband in the senseless Rwanda genocide atrocities that occurred in 1994. The widow sought to continue her husband’s coffee company, and was one of the first to grasp onto the hope of high-quality coffee, a business previously unknown in Rwanda.
Butare Rwanda is Counter Culture’s featured coffee for the month of March.
Origin: Bufundu, Nyamagabe, Rwanda
Elevation: 1600-1900 meters above sea level
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Process: washed, sun-dried
Certifications: Direct Trade
The aroma of Counter Culture’s Bufcafe hearkens back to Heart’s roast; it’s not bright, fruity, and floral like Passion House’s. However, unlike Heart’s, which had a vegetal, grassy aroma, this cup has an aroma of clove-like herbs and orange peel.
While the cup is still hot, it’s almost like drinking Heart’s offering all over again. There’s not a whole lot of flavor, immediately (which may very well be because of the brew, knowing the establishment where I bought this cup). If anything, if I squeeze my eyes shut and taste really hard, my palate detects a faint trace of pistachio nuttiness and burnt orange peel citrus – but little else. However, as the cup cools, some really nice fruitiness comes out to play; now, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with Counter Culture’s assessment in saying that these fruity flavors are “exciting” – it’s nowhere near as flavorful as the fruitiness that Passion House’s cup exhibited; but it’s certainly much more “exciting” than Heart’s, which, looking back, was a pretty dull cup of coffee. This cup has some pretty solid strawberry and raspberry notes happening, which combine a mellow citric acidity nicely.
Full-bodied; smooth, syrupy mouthfeel; low citric acidity.
the bottom line:
So, there you have it – three different version of the same coffee: Heart Coffee Roasters, Passion House Coffee Roasters, and Counter Culture Coffee. Passion House’s rendition was, by far, my favorite of the bunch – it was pretty hard to compete with, though. There must be something in the water at Joshua Millman’s and Shannon Steele’s houses, because they are, apparently, coffee-roasting superstars.
Now, don’t hear me wrong – I don’t want this to come across as a negative review. This offering from Counter Culture has some good qualities going for it – it’s pleasant, it’s very drinkable, and it has some nice strawberry, raspberry, and citrus fruitiness. I would definitely recommend it to the casual coffee drinker who wants something tasty.
But, I can’t get over just how great that Passion House was – which I would clearly recommend to more “adventurous” coffee drinkers.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.