Kenya Kabare cooperative and its farmer members have a rich history. Their first coffee trees were planted in 1954, and today the cooperative has grown to encompass an impressive eleven different wet mills: Kiringa, Konyu, Karani, Kiang’ombe, Kaboyo, Mukure, Mukengeria, Kimandi, Kathata, Kiangothe, and Kimiciri. The cooperative is located in the Gichugu Division of the Kirinyaga East District, which is literally on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya.
The co-op is managed by an elected board of nine members. Currently, the co-op has 46 permanent members of staff who are headed by a Secretary Manager. The Secretary Manager oversees the day-to-day running of the co-op under the supervision of the board. The 11 wet mills in the co-op have a combined membership of 12,300 farmers and their current production stands at around 350,000 kilograms of coffee cherries.
Farmers selectively hand pick ripe red cherries which are delivered to one of the wet mills on the same day. After its initial milling, the bean (with its parchment intact) is dry-fermented for 24-48 hours. After the fermentation process, it is washed and then sun-dried. Dry parchment is milled and bagged at Socfinaf coffee where, upon completion, it is transported to the SMS Limited warehouses where it is ready for selling and exportation.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Kenya Kabare, from Joe Bean Roasters in Rochester, New York. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kirinyaga, Kenya
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Kenya Kabare Cooperative
elevation: 1900 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Kenya Kabare is absolutely beautiful. Fruit- and floral-forward, with sweet, perfumed scents of cherry, citrus, raisin, tobacco, and honeysuckle.
Sipping this medium-bodied coffee immediately post-brew, it coats my tongue with its smooth, syrupy mouthfeel, allowing sugary flavors of maple and molasses to slowly roll over my taste buds. The fruit elements in this coffee are stunning, lively, and provide something of a sparkling effervescence on the palate—sour cherry, Gala apple, honeydew melon, kiwi, and lemon-lime (more lime, but not tart). These flavors become more apparent and the coffee’s mouthfeel becomes a bit silkier as the cup cools, and flavors of Assam tea, black walnut, and maple play throughout the finish and into a lingering aftertaste. Its lime acidity (and its very slight nuances of starch) kinda sorta indicate that the coffee is a touch underdeveloped, but it is, nonetheless, a very refined, elegant cup.
Joe Bean Roasters’s Kenya Kabare is a delightfully elegant and refined coffee. Truly, the Kenya Kabare was a coffee that I couldn’t get enough of, and one that didn’t last very long on my shelf.
It’s a pretty sweet coffee, but one that features a balanced structure and stunning clarity. It’s fairly acidity-forward, but not in the typically phosphoric way that makes some great Kenyan coffees a little grassy. Instead, lemon-lime citrus rounds out to tart cherry, finishing with a maple walnut sweetness. The roundness of the flavor is complemented by a round, syrupy body that leaves a lingering aftertaste.
Many thanks to my good friend, Chris Zimmerman of Ellipsis Coffeehouse, for sharing it with me—you’ve made a fan of Joe Bean out of me.
*content courtesy of Five Senses Coffee
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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.