Kicking off 2019 with 3 strong from Brandywine Coffee Roasters followed by 3 from Kuma coffee to really get the new year going and keep on with the lightly roasted single origins and the tail end of the African coffee season.
The first of three coffees from Brandywine Coffee Roasters, this large bean washed varietal from the Huila region is one of the lightest roasted coffees I’ve used this year. It was very evenly sized and roasted, but even the smell upon opening the bag was that green bell pepper, whole tomato smell. With this in mind, I aimed for finer grinds, longer brew times, and hotter water to prevent under extracted flavors. These principles proved to work pretty well brewed, but made this coffee tricky as espresso.
As espresso, the best shots was I able to produce were using an extremely fine grind and extended preinfusion, pulling shots at 18 grams in an 18 g VST basket, 10 seconds at 2 bars, 27 seconds at 8 bars, and 5 seconds at 2 bars to 38 grams out using 203*F water. These shots were still decidedly light and would be a bit polarizing for most, with some very light and bright tasting notes, and not nearly as much sweetness. This might truly be a coffee best suited to filter brewing only.
However that was just fine because brewed cups pushed out to longer brew times tasted quite good. Far more balanced and with more sweetness, creating a very dynamic cup more in line with coffees from Rwanda and Burundi than Colombia. This coffee doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but I really like that Brandywine does things like offer coffee from the same farm of different varietal or different processing methods, like this one and it’s naturally processed partner next…
Naturally processed Colombian coffees are certainly not common, and with tastings notes of Concord Grape, Mandarin Orange, Red Fruit, Round, and Brown Sugar, I knew I wanted to give this one a try. This coffee was great when brewed, especially when using the V60, which provided a little cleaner cup with more transparency. I found brewed cups to be best around 1:15.5 ratio in 2:30 to 2:45, using 198*F water.
As espresso, I pulled this shot pretty close to traditional 1:2 ratios in about 30 - 35 seconds and 198*F water. Shots were rich and full bodied with lots of sweetness and big plump flavors. This coffee wasn’t the easiest as espresso, but it was pretty tasty.
Like the other two from BCR, this one was again fantastic when brewed on the V60 with tons of syrupy sweet, red fruit and a rich buttery mouthfeel. Brewed cups were fantastic at a traditional 1:16 ratio using 200*F water and targeting 3:00 brew times. That sounds pretty standard, but it was so good I didn’t feel the need to stray.
As espresso, these shots were not pretty. As I explained in a #sprosunday Live story in Instagram, that’s sometimes how some of these filter coffees work out, and that’s okay because this one still tasted really great. I pulled shots from 18 grams in to 33g out to 18.8g in to 56.8g out and honestly they were all good. The longer shots utilized extended preinfusion and ramp down in brew pressure at the tail end of the shot and were more drinkable and well rounded. The shorter shots pulled in 45+ seconds with 2-3 seconds of preinfusion and were full face melters; intense, rich, sweet, and very dense, but still very fun and enjoyable to drink. Pick up Kenya Gaturiri AA from Brandywine for $20 for a 12 ounce bag here.
Coming up, I have three coffees that sound delicious from Kuma Coffee Roasters. Kuma is great roaster out of Seattle that just sells excellent coffee, period. Their website, bags, and marketing is very low key, but they routinely source great tasting coffee and it’s roasted very thoughtfully and perfectly in line with my tastes; it’s light enough that it really lets origin flavors come through but developed enough to not bring out unwanted flavors and be difficult to work with. The first coffee I’m diving into from them is Kenya Kathakwa that’s available for $19 for a 12 ounce bag here. After that will be the venerable Ethiopia Misty Valley Natural. Longtime baristas will frequently talk fondly about past Misty Valley crops, which is high praise given today’s preferences towards washed coffees. Kuma’s description sums up why this coffee is always loved:
It tastes like a mug of hot chocolate with a pump of blackberry syrup. This is the quintessential gateway specialty coffee, the one that makes people say "I didn't know coffee could taste like this!" Share it with loved ones, or keep every last drop to yourself, either way it is guaranteed to be cherished.
I haven’t had a killer natural Ethiopian in awhile, and I’m not entirely positive I’ve had a Misty Valley coffee, so I’m really hoping this one will live up to my hopes. This coffee can be purchased for $18 for 12 ounces here. Rounding out the run with Kuma will be their “Bright” Fresh Crop Blend, which is stated to be comprised of East African coffees and have notes of “berries, floral, tropical, and citrus”, all good things in my book. This one is specially labeled to be well suited for espresso and filter, so I’m looking forward to a nice bright but well balanced cup. This one can be had for $17 for a 12 ounce bag here. Also, be sure to join Kuma’s email list, as they frequently send out heads up for exciting new offerings and 20% off coupons.
As always, I purchased all of these coffees at my own choosing, and in the rare occasions anything falls outside of that, it will be clearly marked. Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll taste along by ordering or by tuning in to the #sprosunday live posts I’ve been adding to Instagram each Sunday, dialing in a new espresso and my approach.