On the slopes of Mount Elgon in Western Kenya is a small cooperative called Kikai. Comprised of 1850 members over 319 hectares of productive land, the Kikai Farmers Cooperative Society produces about two and a half bags per member.
This region, called Bungoma, is typically ignored in favor of more prominent regions in the middle of the country; but there is plenty of quality to be found here.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Kenya Kikai PB, from Pilot Coffee Roasters in Toronto, Ontario. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Bungoma East, Sirisia, Kenya
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Kikai Farmers Cooperative Society
elevation: 1700 – 1850 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, K7, K34
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Kenya Kikai is boldly and pungently fragrant. There’s nothing bright or lively about this aroma, as deep and massive scents of violet, dark berries, and dark chocolate slowly rise up into my nostrils.
Whoa. The first few sips of the cup are not at all what I was expecting. Most Kenyan coffees (in my personal experience, anyway) are either bright and juicy or rich and mellow; there are, however, a couple common themes that run through just about all Kenyan coffees: flora and fruit. This cup, on the other hand, opens more like a Sumatra than a Kenya; it’s earthy, gritty, and musty, with the defining flavors being tobacco, earth, honey, panela, and raw cocoa. Yes, there is a bit of a floral element (really deep notes of lavender, violet, and night blooming flowers), but nothing compared to the other flavors up front.
As it cools off, however, the cup performs a complete 180 and becomes “that classic Kenyan coffee.” It brightens considerably, becoming very lively, juicy, and even tart. Pungent flavors of blackberry, mulberry wine, raisin, peach, black currant, and plum gush all over the palate, while a flourish of purple floral aromatics round out the finish, leaving behind a mostly clean, but slightly dry finish.
Full body; juicy mouthfeel; berry acidity; slightly dry finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Weird, bizarre, and wonderful, Pilot Coffee Roasters’s Kenya Kikai PB is an exceptional coffee—even for a Kenya.
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