Bean review: Kenyans from Notes, Workshop and Horsham
In this week’s bean review, Phil Wain brews three Kenyans from Notes, Workshop and Horsham Coffee Roasters.
Kenya produces less than 0.5% of the world’s coffee, but is a hugely significant producer for speciality coffee. Most Kenyan coffee farms are small, often being formed into co-operatives to share washing stations and other processing. Production methods have evolved over decades and are very labour intensive. Almost all Kenyan coffees are washed and their clarity of flavour, juicy acidity and fruity notes can result in exceptional coffees.
One of three great Kenyan coffees roasted by Notes this season, this is a classic juicy Kenyan. Candice Madison and Fabio Ferreira are roasting superbly and have been coaxing some exquisite flavours from quality beans. This Kenyan, grown in the volcanic soils of Nyeri in central Kenya is especially good.
For once, I can’t argue with the tasting notes on the packaging: ‘blackcurrants, blackberries, lemon curd sweetness and a bright citric acidity’ - all contributing to a superb cup. Juicy, sweet blackberry was the first flavour to dominate which develops into a bright, clean blackcurrant and citrus with a delicate jasmine hint and a superb finish.
The labels detail lot, producer, varietal, process, picking date and roasting date. The coffee comes in a re-sealable biodegradable, plastic-lined manila bag. The medium light roast beans are even and flawless.
Varietal: SL28 & SL34 | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: blackberry, blackcurrant, lemon, (jasmine)
250g - £10.50 from Notes-uk.co.uk
Workshop’s third Kenyan of the season is superb. AA, if you’re not sure, relates to the size of the beans. The largest beans (except the rare elephant beans) are labelled AA in Kenya. Gikirima is grown in the Embu region on the south-eastern slopes of the extinct volcano Mount Kenya. Several farmers bring their coffee cherries to wash at the Kibugu co-operative washing station.
A transparent sticker on a plain, foil-lined manila bag lists roast date, varietal and origin, producer and harvest date. A sweet fruity aroma entices upon grinding the beans. The coffee itself has that clarity Tim Williams (Workshop founder) attends endless cuppings in Kenya to seek.
This is a very sweet coffee, dominated by stone fruit flavours such as plum and nectarine with a grape acidity that balances the sugarcane sweetness.
Varietal: SL28 & SL34 | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: plum, nectarine, grape, sugarcane
350g - £13 (£9.25/250g) from Workshopcoffee.com
Horsham Coffee Roaster from the West Sussex countryside outside Horsham mostly supply local cafes and shops but also supply a handful in London and Brighton. In London, Mousetail coffee carts and Bethnal Green’s Hobo Corp use their beans.
Their Kiunyu comes in a resealable manila, foil-lined package with a white sticker label giving information on producer, process and altitude. Size is not indicated though they appear to be AA beans. The roast is medium, just a smidgen darker than the other two reviewed today.
Although not as spectacular as the other two, this roast has a lot to offer. It has a distinct tropical fruit flavour quite unusual in a Kenyan coffee. The beans clearly have been carefully sorted and there are none of the obvious defects found in less expensive beans. It is quite juicy with subtle stone fruit acidity (nectarine, perhaps?) with hints of florals although the predominant flavour is dried mango.
Varietal: Unspecified | Process: Washed | Phil's tasting notes: dried mango, nectarine, floral
250g - £5.50 from www.horshamcoffeeroaster.com (NB: specify this coffee by name)