I’m really excited about the coffee we’re going to drink today for a couple reasons: 1) it comes to us BeanFruit Coffee Company, a company I’ve been eager to try since Paul, the owner, contacted me a couple months ago (the fact that our beloved United States Postal Service nearly lost this package only made the anticipation all the more fervent). Secondly, BeanFruit is located just outside Jackson, Mississippi (a state that’s not really known for great, specialty coffee), so just that small factoid made drinking this coffee so appealing.
The biggest inspiration for my level of excitement about this coffee, though, is the coffee itself. It seems like this year’s offering from the Mpito COOP in Tanzania is wildly popular because I’ve been reading a lot of praise for it. One coffee blogging friend, Colin Mansfield of Boise Coffee, wrote that Tonx’s Mpito “had one of the richest smells that [he's] had the pleasure to behold.” Wow – big words. Another friend, Jamie Ferguson of Coffee Adventures, recently reviewed Handsome Coffee Roasters’ take on this coffee and she adored it; she knows coffee, and is tough to impress – so I put a lot of stock in her opinions. When she wrote “Words hardly do this coffee justice,” I knew I had to have this coffee.
But before I even had the time to click my way over Handsome’s online store, Paul had already put a package of BeanFruit’s rendition of it in the mail. What a guy.
Ready to see if the hype is legit? Feel free to pull up a chair.
The Mpito coop is located in the village of Idunda, in the Mbozi district of the Mbeya region. About 200 members contributed to this lot, and their farm sizes are less than one acre on average. The Central Processing Unit was formed in 1996 and has received training in quality from both TechnoServe and KILICAFE in the past.
TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world capitalize on business opportunities that create jobs and income for poor people. Their advisors impart critical skills and knowledge that promote a thriving private sector. The resulting economic growth helps people improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. In 2010 alone, this organization’s work made a difference in the lives of 1.5 million people in more than 30 countries. Similarly, KILICAFE falls under the umbrella of the Association of Kilimanjaro Specialty Coffee Growers – a Tanzanian coffee smallholder organization. As of a couple years ago, the organization represents 137 different groups with 11,000 members in Tanzania’s three Arabica-growing regions: Kilimanjaro, Mbnga, and Mbeya.
So Mpito has been molded and formed by good hands.
Origin: Idunda, Mbozi, Mbeya, Tanzania
Farm: Mpito Cooperative
Elevation: 1350 meters above sea level
Varietal: N39 Bourbon
Process: washed, raised bed-dried
Certifications: Rainforest Alliance, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center Friendly, Fair Trade
First of all, I must say, the aroma coming out of this bag is intense! Actually, as soon as I ripped open the shipping box, this coffee’s strong scent exploded like a gas bomb and filled the entire kitchen – in a good way. Nay – in a great way. Massive aromas of nuts and berry and creamy white chocolate waft out of the bag. When it’s brewed, though, the aroma morphs from white chocolate, nuts, and berries to berries, violet, and citrus and it’s equally pleasing.
Handsome described this coffee as a “Tropical fruit bomb!Papaya and mango with a soft strawberry jam.” I agree with these sentiments. But it also seems to me that BeanFruit may have roasted these beans just a bit longer, because this cup also has the flavors and mouthfeel of a fuller-bodied coffee. Instead of a light fruitiness, this coffee has a thick, creamy mouthfeel with a dominant flavor of guava and juicy berries – raspberry and strawberry sweetness, mixed with a thick blueberry syrup that coats the palate. As the cup cools, the berry flavors become much more prevalent and a soft taste of graham cracker comes out.
Full body, zesty citric acidity, clean finish.
the bottom line:
I’m going with Jamie on this one – “This is one unique coffee.” It’s an incredibly tasty cup from the point of opening the bag to the point of sipping the last drop. Big, bold flavors of tropical fruit dominate throughout with a thick, syrup-like creaminess that coats the palate – a clean citrus acidity finishes it off and makes the Mpito Tanzania Mbeya a nicely rounded cup of coffee. I don’t know much about the state of the coffee industry in the deep South, but the folks behind Mississippi’s BeanFruit Coffee Company surely know what they’re doing – I was legitimately impressed, and I’m eager to see what else they have.