Kenya AA

In Stock: 128 Lbs
Kenya
Mt. Elgon
Various smallholder farmers
SL-28, SL-34, Batain, Ruiru 11
Washed
Cocoa and grapefruit flavors; sweet, savory and citric.
Medium/Dark (Full City)
84

Taste: When describing the taste of Kenya AA two words consistently enter the conversation: Power, and Wine.  Kenya coffee cups BIG, with a burgundy-like finish, juicy mouthfeel, and bright citrus acidity.  A savory experience, this provocative coffee is excellent for those who like their coffee dark, strong, and complex.

Roast: Kenya AA is a hard bean that takes all roasts well, but we think is best on darker end of the spectrum.  Medium Dark (Full City) is nice just into 2nd crack.  But don’t be hesitant to take this beauty to Dark (French Roast).

About: Kenyan coffees, for a lot of roasters, are showcase coffees, those that stand out above all others for brash acidity, ripe fruit, and rich sugars. We can all remember that first experience with a Kenyan coffee, how it floored us with gripping acid. For a long time, however, we’ve tended to paint all of Kenya with the same brushstroke, without digging in to see what each county could have to offer us as for diversity of flavor or profile.

With our regional program Uteuzi Jimbo, Swahili for “county select,” we aim to do just this. Collaborating with our export partner Dormans, we’ve selected four areas to begin an exposé of what each region can offer if we take the time to look: Nyeri, Embu, Mr. Elgon, and Kirinyaga.

Mr. Elgon – Coffees from this region tend to express almost more Ethiopia-like characteristics, with heavy grapefruit, floral, and a delicate tea-like quality.

In our opinion, Kenya has one of the most interesting and complicated histories with coffee: Despite sharing a border with the “birthplace of coffee,” Ethiopia, Kenya was one of the latest places planted in coffee, nearly 300 years after the plant was first cultivated for sale. In fact, the varieties that were brought to Kenya had circumnavigated the globe before they found their way back to the African continent, mutating in various climates to create a profile that, once adapted to the rich soil around Mt. Kenya, resulted in the singular profiles that this country has to offer.

In the 2000’s, approximately 85% of the coffee farms in Kenya are owned by natives to the country, though European influence is still evident in larger estates. Today, the majority of Kenyan farmers tend small plots, growing as few as 150 coffee trees trees: They bring cherry to centrally located mills, where their coffees are weighed, sorted, and combined to create lots large enough to process and export. There are also privately owned estates, though fewer than during colonial days: The average estate grows around 10,000 coffee trees.

Aside from the varieties grown in the country, and the altitudes that range from 1,400 to more than 2,000 meters above sea level, the special processing that most Kenyan coffees undergoes is part of what contributes to its particular flavor profile.

Here’s a general breakdown of how processing happens in Kenya (though, truthfully, there is no one “standard” for how a factory or washing station handles its coffee): Farmers will bring their cherry to the factory, where it is weighed and put into the hopper with the rest of that day’s collection. (The farmer is given a receipt for the value of the coffee.) The coffee is depulped using one of two types of equipment: A single-disc depulper, which directs all of the coffee into a single fermentation tank, or a pre-grader/multi-disc depulper, which uses multiple water tanks to pre-sort the coffees by density before and after the depulping, which allows the smaller grades to be depulped again as needed. The single-disc depulping is more common at estates than at the factories.

Factories will ferment every grade of parchment coffee dry in its mucilage for 24–48 hours, then move the coffee through water channels to separate washing tanks, where the softened mucilage is sloughed off. Premium AA lots are sometimes sent to holding takes to be submerged underwater for an additional 24 hours.

The tanks are drained, and the coffee is given a quick “pre-dry,” or “skin dry,” laid out in full sunlight in thin layers on raised beds for about six hours; this is to prevent the parchment from cracking. The beans are then moved to raised beds where they are spread in thicker layers, and allowed to dry for 7–10 days. The coffee is typically dried to 11–12% moisture.


 

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