Today’s coffee comes from Kenya – a country where coffee flourishes in several regions: in the foothills all around Mount Kenya (a mountain we have discussed at length here at the Table), near Mount Elgon on the Western border near Uganda, and near the Aberdare Mountains.
The country currently has six million people working in the coffee industry with over 570,000 coffee farms. Some of the greatest coffees hail from the Nyeri District of the Central Province, nestled in the foothills between the Aberdare Mountains and the southwest slopes of Mount Kenya.
One of the factories in this region is Gatomboya, which joined the Barichu Cooperative in 1996 alongside the Gaturiri, Karatina, and Karidundu factories. Somewhere around 700 members of this cooperative tend to about 300 shrubs, all of which grow under a canopy of grevillea, macadamia, and eucalyptus tress.
Being surrounded by so many mountains, the coffee plants obviously grow at impressive elevations – in some areas, heights reach 1,770 meters above sea level.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Kenya Gatomboya AB, from Fratello Coffee Roasters in Calgary. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Gatomboya, Kenya
farm/factory: Gatomboya Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society
elevation: 1770 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The first thing to take not of in the Gatomboya is its subtle aroma. It’s very delicate, very elegant. There are a lot of herbs and flowers to be detected in its pleasant scent: Darjeeling tea leaves, lilac, lavender, even lemon peel. But, like I said, it’s very subtle.
The first few sips of this coffee immediately post-brew are convoluted. A deep, velvety mixture of dark chocolate, tart red wine, mulling spices, and black tea leaves up front introduces notes of oak, cane sugar, and just a touch of roastiness that rises up to the roof of the mouth, creating a slight astringency in the follow-through.
As it cools, the similarities to red wine become even more prevalent as the coffee becomes very, very fruit-forward. Luscious, juicy flavors of blackberry, cherry, currant, raisin, very bright purple grape highlights, plum, apple, tart pink grapefruit, and a zesty lemon acidity all wash the flavors up front away to clear some space for a finish of lilac and violet aromatics in the finish.
Best of all, that faint roastiness up front is almost completely dissipated at this point.
Medium body; velvety mouthfeel; grapefruit acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Kenya Gatomboya AB, from Fratello Coffee Roasters, may as well have been bottled and served in a wine glass. While it may not have been a perfect coffee, it certainly was a stellar coffee that had a lot of memorable moments.
Tremendous flavor, great balance, nice clarity—definitely a coffee worth checking out.
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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.