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Kenyan Coffees

October 09, 2011


When summer rolls around, some of the best coffees in the world come into the States. I'm talking about Kenyans. Ask the average joe on the street where the best beans come from and you are more likely to hear Hawaii or Jamaica than Kenya. But ask a barista where the best beans come from and you're more likely to hear "Kenya."



Kenyans have great acidity, which doesn't mean they are literally more acidic than other coffees are. It's just that they have certain compounds that make your tongue pop. Kind a good apple cider: there's sweetness but there's a snap at the end that's refreshing.



Unfortunately, ROASTe is not stocking many Kenyans at the moment. While I do get beans from ROASTe quite often, given my love for Kenyans and ROASTe's lack of great ones, I've ventured elsewhere lately in order to source my fix. Here are some recommendations.



STUMPTOWN GATOMBOYA. Honestly, I generally don't like Stumptown. They tend to take their beans a little too dark and I've gotten some pretty mediocre batches from them. Also, their packaging is cute but not so great at protecting the beans' freshness (or, I should say, limiting their staling). This offering, though, is worth it. Whereas I've found certain Kenyans this season to actually be under-roasted, the darkness in this one is great. It doesn't have trademark Kenyan acidity but it's got a rummy, fruity richness that's a true crowd-pleaser. Can't go wrong with this one.



TERROIR MAMUTO. This is a limited edition roast that George Howell puts out about once a month. Mamuto's a well-known coffee and something that he's offering for the past few years. If you want to know what the famed Kenyan blackberry/blackcurrant note is, here's your ticket. It's not particularly complex but it's intense and soul-satisfying. Expensive! But you're worth it.



HEART GICHATHAINI. You can get some crazy fruit qualities out of a Kenyan, flavors that you just don't get anywhere else. It's telling that the best Centrals, to my palette at least, kind of taste like Kenyans. Anyway, this one had some pretty strong strawberry flavors. Great for iced coffee--why bust out the strawberry-flavored iced tea when you get something that has natural strawberry notes. A lof of roasters are offering GICHATHAINI but this was my favorite one.






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