At a Glance: single origin (Kenya); medium body; sweet, fruity, syrupy, floral; medium acidity; washed

Guten Tag, meine freunde kaffee! Welcome back to my table here in the corner of this cafe, for my very first trans-Atlantic review! You may remember, of course, that a while back we had our first international review when we sipped a coffee from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, which is based in Vancouver; today, though, we’re Germany-bound for a taste of JB Kaffee‘s Kenia AA Nyeri Gatina.

Mein Deutsch ist schlecht, jedoch bitte setz dich zu mir und lass uns Kaffee trinken!

This Kenyan coffee was roasted in Munich, Germany, then shipped over the Atlantic Ocean, to the pour-over bar at Caffe Streets, here in Chicago – that’s how I managed to get a cup of it

And I’m sure glad I did, because this easily one of the most flavorful cups of coffee I’ve had from Kenya in a long time.

It comes from the Gatina farm, which is located in Kenya’s Nyeri Municipality – a town that is located in Kenya’s central highlands region, where the imposing Mount Kenya (which is an all too familiar landmark here at the Table, by this point) dominates the African sky. It is, after all, the second-highest point in all of Africa.

Here are the basics:

Origin: Konyu, Nyeri, Kenya
Elevation: 1750-1880 meters above sea level
Variety: SL 28 // SL 34
Process: washed // sun-dried
Certification: conventional

When I write reviews, I do a lot of research about the farms, the plants, the roasters, and the roasting. Most of the time, the most useful information comes from the roaster’s website. This time, however, being that the website is written in German, Google proved to be the most useful source of information. The English translation of the site supplied me with a few chuckles, so before we go any further, I just wanted to copy some of my favorite points from the roaster’s (Johannes Bayer) review:

The Kenya AA Nyeri Gatina solves the taste center of an explosion. As I write this, I must pull myself together in order to not have to be extravagant…For this coffee take your time and you have to take your time. It is best to drink it alone!…I could list everything now, what I’ve tasted in cupping, or believe to have tasted…I’m not a monster and you still try to gain a little insight. Floral, pink and berry aromas beguile the nose without being intrusive. On the palate, this first impression and will increase immeasurably more intense from sip sip. It tastes tangy berry notes, red currants, raspberries and strawberries also perfumed with the scent of roses. I am now, unfortunately, to the limits of how to describe. Drink!

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

There is one thing I disagree with, though. What I didn’t copy was a line where JB says that sometimes, a coffee’s flavor and aroma are totally different, but that this wasn’t the case with the Nyeri Gatina. I, however, couldn’t disagree more. When Darko (of Caffe Streets) let me smell the aroma coming off the beans, I was struck by their high floral notes and citrusy zest. I even said, “Wow, so this is going to be a pretty bright cup of coffee, huh?”

“No,” he said. “Not at all, actually.”

The very first sip caught me by surprise, as this coffee was actually fairly heavily-bodied – the complete opposite of what I thought it’d be. Furthermore, like JB wrote, it “solved the taste center of an explosion.” I think he meant to say that this coffee is a “taste explosion” – which is a bang-on phrase to describe it. It explodes onto the palate with an intense rush of berries that just does not stop throughout the cup’s lifespan. A fine mix of sweet and tart juiciness with notes of strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry. Underneath these very dominant flavors, are milder, more subtle hints of dates, black currant, and fig. As the cup cools, the berry flavors intensify, but are accompanied by a satisfying honey that coats the palate.

The Nyeri Gatina has a nice, fruity wine acidity and clean finish that leaves behind a mouth-watering satisfaction.

The Bottom Line:

I’ve said it over and over again – Kenya is a wild card in the coffee industry. There’s nothing else quite like a Kenya, and, more often than not, there are no two Kenyas that are identical. The Kenia AA Nyeri Gatina from Munich, Germany’s JB Kaffee is no exception to the rule. Super intense flavors of berries and winy acidity dominate the flavor of this coffee right from the start and just keep coming, but there’s at least a nice bed of syrupy fruity (fig, currant, date) and honey sweetness underneath it all.

This is a really great cup of coffee; as a single origin, though, it’s just a little too berriful. Perhaps it would be better served in a blend for espresso. But, for the adventurous coffee consumer, it’s definitely worth trying.

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