Located in the Nyeri district, in the southern foothills of Mount Kenya and managed by the Rumukia Farmer’s Cooperative Society (FCS), Kiawamururu receives coffee cherry from nearly 550 smallholder coffee farmers. Each cooperative member tends about two hundred coffee shrubs producing SL28 and SL34 varieties, native Kenyan cultivars celebrated for their complex aromatics and flavors.
Farmers deliver their fresh-picked coffee cherry to the Kiawamururu mill where the cherries are weighed, carefully hand-sorted, and pulped within hours of harvest. Fresh water used in the pulping machines comes, via a channel system, from the nearby Ragati River and is conserved and re-circulated during processing. After the coffee has been pulped and washed, it is evenly spread on raised drying beds, where the parchment is worked and turned continuously to ensure even drying.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Kiawamururu Kenya, from THE BARN Coffee Roasters in Berlin. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Mukurwe-ini, Nyeri, Kenya
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Rumukia Farmers Cooperative Society
elevation: 1500 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma wafting off of the Kiawamururu is heavenly – a soft, delicate bouquet of floral aromatics (rose hip and hibiscus), Douglas fir, and sugary sweetness laced with citrus, cherry, and raisin gently grace the nostrils.
All of these notes carry over into the first few sips of the coffee (particularly the floral aromatics), but they pale in comparison to the bittersweet Merlot wine flavor that completely envelops the tongue. Further flavors of vanilla (which contributes to the coffee’s creamy texture), cherry, raisin, and apple juice make for a very sweet experience up front, though there is something of a tart tangerine acidity that trickles down the sides of the tongue.
As it cools off, the coffee continues to develop, fleshing out more flavors, layer upon layer upon layer. Absolutely beautiful flavors of ruby red grapefruit, plum, apricot, fuji apple, blackberry, grape, guava, and red currant all coalesce with sweet honey and silky rose petals to create a really unique and memorable experience toward the end of the cup, which concludes with a crisp finish.
Light body; creamy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
THE BARN’s Kenya Kiawamururu… Well, what can I say about this coffee? It’s a coffee that left me speechless – nay, dumbfounded. Every sip was something of a sensory overload and I’m fairly certain my palate is now broken.
What’s particularly confounding about this coffee is how enjoyable it is in contrast with how complex it is. That is to say, for a coffee that’s complex, dynamic, challenging, and is worthy of any cupper’s intensely scrupulous dissection, it’s also just a damn good cuppa Joe. This is a coffee that follows the lines of Nordic roasting styles and the product is a well-rounded cup with tremendous balance, crystal clarity, sparkling acidity, perfectly defined flavors, and curved angles (no sharp, pointed, or blurred edges).
There is one thing, though, that I didn’t like about the Kiawamururu – there wasn’t enough of it. The flavor of the coffee kept me coming back for more, the accessibility of its profile made it enjoyable to drink, the lightness of its body made it all too easy to consume too quickly, and the crispness of its finish made the experience seem too short. Every time I got to the bottom of the cup, I felt the urge to exclaim, “Wait, that’s it!?”
Then I refilled my mug with the tears that streamed down my cheeks.
Then I cleansed my palate with my own tears as penance for finishing such a delicacy too quickly.
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