Populace Coffee makes its triumphant return to the Table with their brand new offering, Loud Mouth—a coffee comprised of a 50/50 Kenya Kailani and Sulawesi Pango Pango combination.
This coffee comes from the Kalilani Coop located in the Machakos region of Kenya. The Machakos growing county is comprised of Kangundo, Machakos, and Donyo Sabuk. They are just South East of Nairobi. The soil in this region is red volcanic, and annual rainfall is approximately 685mm, with two distinct wet seasons.
Kalilani is a cooperative society that annualy produces nearly 167,000 kgs, and has 1626 members. The total estimated land held by these members is 377 hectares, or roughly .23 hectares per producer. So this is another great coffee from a small holder.4
sulawesi pango pango
PT Toarco Jaya, a pioneering company established in 1976, has played a critical role in improving quality in the area. Toarco takes a methodical and progressive approach to coffee development and much of their success is a direct result of their investment in local farmers. They regularly provide free training to help local producers increase both their farm husbandry skills and their knowledge of post-harvest quality control. In addition, Toarco operates a free seedling distribution program that gives farmers access to high quality varieties each year.
Toarco’s presence in the region has also led to an increase in transparency and opportunity for the growers throughout Toraja. Not only do they pay stable and reliable quality-based premiums for the coffees they buy, Toarco also publishes the rates they are paying on a weekly basis to help prevent exploitation by collectors. Growers can sell coffees to Toarco at remote purchasing points close to the growing areas (eliminating the need to travel to town) or deliver to the buying station in Rantepao where coffees are graded, roasted, and cupped on the spot and farmers get immediate feedback about the quality of their coffees.
For the last 20 years Toarco has been purchasing coffee only from registered farmers and specific collectors who have agreed to their strict quality standards. Every lot is cupped and re-cupped, and all of the coffees are dried in parchment to maximize quality. This is costlier than the more expedient wet-hulling approach, but yields better and more consistent results.
And the positive impact they have had on the local communities is deeply impressive; in addition to providing training and consistent, transparent pricing to coffee farmers they have also contributed substantial infrastructure upgrades throughout the area, including bridges, roads, and even a hydroelectric power station. At their own Pedamaran estate, Toarco developed a model farm that serves as an experimental station and a nursery for the coffee seeds they distribute.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Loud Mouth Blend, from Populace Coffee in Bay City, Michigan. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Machakos, Kangundo, Kenya // Pango Pango-Perindingan, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Kailani Cooperative // PT Toarco Jaya
elevation: 1830 // 1400 – 1600 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34 // S795, Typica
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
Loud Mouth’s aroma is sweet, bright, and incredibly lively, with floral aromatics of cherry and orange blossom, honey, and red fruits.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, I am greeted by a coffee that is leaving me absolutely gobsmacked. Really. This cup is filled with creamy notes of caramel, toffee, and honey while a flutter of cherry blossoms finishes each sip. There’s also a really unique, very sweet flavor of sour cream glazed doughnut, almonds, and Savannah Smiles.
As the coffee cools, really bright, lively, tart, and juicy fruit flavors come to the forefront of every sip. The flavors from the front half of the cup coalesce and take on a much more concentrated, indistinguishable confection flavor, but the fruit notes have much more clarity: cherry, raspberry jelly, pink lady apple, tangerine, and lemon.
Full body; creamy mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
It took me a few tries to get this coffee dialed in, but once I did, Populace Coffee’s Loud Mouth was absolutely bangin’. When I said before that the coffee left me absolutely gobsmacked, I meant it—each sip had me exclaiming “Wow!” to myself.
Furthermore, Loud Mouth was really quite unique—dynamic and complex. It had a lot of things going on that I can honestly say I’ve never tasted in any other coffee (specifically that sour cream glazed doughnut flavor—wow).
Tremendous coffee. Populace Coffee is up to really good things.
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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.