Redcurrant, Caramel and Black Tea
The Kiamugumo washing station, or factory as they are often known in Kenya, lies at 1550 metres above sea level on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, in Kirinyaga county. It is owned by the 1500 members of the New Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society, each of which are able to contribute their cherry to lots from Kiamugumo. Ngariama own three factories: Kiamugumo, Kamwangi and Kainamui, from which we purchased a lot in 2018. The cooperative doesn’t just collect and process coffee for its member farmers, it also provides them with financial support for expenses such as school fees and farm investment. This lot, mainly made up of SL28 and SL34, is of the AA screen size and has been processed using a variation on the washed process popular in Kenya, which involves a second soaking of the coffee after the initial fermentation. This further cleans up the cup, and adds to the intensity of acidity we value in Kenyan coffees. Look for bright currant notes, and a juicy body, in this classic representation of the Kirinyaga region, known for slightly lighter-bodied and crisper cups.
When we choose to share a coffee, it’s because we feel it showcases clear character in the cup, the origin of which can be traced back through the coffee chain. We are inspired not only by sharing this carefully created raw material, but by conveying how each step of the coffee’s journey has led to what you find in your cup, be it terroir, varietal, post-harvest processing, or something else entirely.
We roast with a gentle touch in order to unveil these characteristics with the highest level of clarity. Be it a dense, high-grown heirloom varietal from Ethiopia, or a lower-grown Bourbon from Brazil, we always aim for this same clarity, and write taste notes as an introduction as to what to expect from the raw material. We would expect higher acidity and a lower body from Ethiopia, so would use notes such as citrus fruits and tea to describe this. From Brazil, we are more likely to use notes such as chocolate and nuts; to convey the heavy, sweet character and pleasant dryness we expect from lower-grown coffees.
We recommend our roasted coffee for all brew methods, regardless of whether it is immersion, percolation or espresso. We believe that there is one correct way to roast a single coffee, roasting lightly, in such a way as to release its innate qualities and showcase its quality. Roasting coffees darker to aid solubility, especially for espresso, tends to cloud the origin-specific flavour notes which we so value in our approach. This approach means we often have to understand coffee brewing and the effect we can have here, and not necessarily follow brewing guides exactly. Here we provide an outline for brewing using percolation, immersion, and espresso brewing methods. We also recommend resting your coffee after roasting. When coffee is roasted, chemical changes in the beans take place, and one of the byproducts of these changes is Carbon Dioxide gas. This becomes trapped in the bean cell structure, and slowly seeps out over time. This gas makes it difficult to brew coffee, both by causing fizzing out as you attempt to brew coffee, and by dissolving into carbonic acid during brewing, causing off flavours in the cup. However, whatever brewing method you use, the water is a very important factor.Read more
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade. The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more