A few weeks ago, on every blogger’s favorite day of the week (Twitter’s Follow Friday), I was introduced to New York’s Forty Weight Coffee. I had heard a lot of really great things about this roasting operation from some friends of mine in NYC; particularly Chermelle Edwards, of smdlr fame. After getting to know each other a bit, roastmaster Andrew Ballard graciously offered to send me a bag of his latest offering – Kenya Ichamara Peaberry.
How could I refuse?
I love receiving packages of coffee in the mail, if for no other reason than to make my kitchen smell incredible when I rip open the packaging. I’ve received some coffees in the past where, as soon as I opened the shipping box, an explosion of aromatics bust and made the entire first floor of my apartment smell like a coffee shop. This coffee was certainly no exception – an incredibly heavy aroma wafted throughout the entire apartment.
But don’t let me get ahead of myself – we need to save some of these notes for the actual review!
Ready to do some heavy lifting? Feel free to pull up a chair.
Grown on the southwestern slopes of Mount Kenya, this coffee is brought to us by the Gikaru Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society, a group of 1200 farmers in the Mukurwe-ini Division in Nyeri. Kenya Ichamara Peaberry is produced by the 3,665 active small holding farmers of the Gikaru Farmers Cooperative Society. It is processed in the wet mill located in Ichamara, Kenya, from which it draws its name (rather than the farm or region it was grown in, which is interesting). Ichamara is one of five “factories” that form the Gikaru Farmers Cooperative Society (a factory is a wet mill in Kenya that serves a particular microlot).
Origin: Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri, Kenya
Farm: Gikaru Farmers Cooperative Society
Elevation: 1400 – 1650 meters above sea level
Cultivars: SL28, SL34, and Ruiru-11
Process: washed, raised bed dried
Like I was mentioning earlier, the aroma of this coffee is stellar – massive aromatics burst out of the bag when you open it, filling your nostrils with everything a great Kenyan coffee ought to be. Incredibly floral, with hints of chocolate, nuts, cane sugar, and citrus laced through the fragrance.
Upon first sip, the Ichamara comes bursting out of the gates with a rush of flavor. The cup is abundantly sweet, and has crystal clear cleanliness – you can really taste each individual flavor element present. In my experience, when you start roasting around the City+ level (where this particular coffee is), even the brightest of flavors can get a little blurry. However, I’ve been told that this varietal – Ruiru-11 (which, I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it) – is pretty tough, and actually invites longer roasts or higher temperatures; more advanced roasting profiles actually brings a lot of the flavors that are locked inside the beans out more. I’ll have to try more Ruirus to see if this is truly the case, but it definitely seemed to work with this Ichamara.
Peach blossom (which I’m using to describe the combination of peaches and floral elements I’m tasting), just as it was in the aromatics, is a dominant theme in the cup. Sweet lemon, lime, grapefruit, and apricot also come through, and rose-like floral hints are present as well. A very refined sweetness balances out the brightness – brown sugar and cocoa.
Lively, bright acidity (Coffee Review founder Kenneth Davids called it a “wine-toned” acidity; sure – I can buy that; maybe like a rouge or a blush wine); full body; dry finish, with a lingering winy aftertaste.
the bottom line:
Wow, what a coffee! Forty Weight Coffee’s Kenya Ichamara Peaberry is the kind of coffee that really makes you wonder why so many millions of people are content with drinking your everyday, average cup of Joe. From the floral aromatics that fill the entire kitchen when you open the bag, to the intensely fruity, citrusy, winy, and caramel-chocolaty flavors in the cup, this coffee is sure to win converts from sip to shining sip.
If New York City is experiencing a specialty coffee Renaissance with the likes of a Gorilla Coffee or a Cafe Grumpy, then Forty Weight Coffee should be mentioned near the top of the list as well, because the quality of this coffee (and some others I’ll be trying soon) is impeccable.
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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.