Blackberry, Maple, Strawberry
This coffee is rather different from the vast majority of Kenyan coffees we have purchased in the past. The Harries family own some of the very last coffee estates in Kenya, so are able to produce coffee outside the cooperative system that dominates the Kenyan coffee lands. They take care of each step of the process themselves, from tree to export, so have a great deal of control over the final cup profile. This level of control allows the Harries the unique opportunity to create and export micro-lots, with specific varietals or new processing methods. This level of creativity and agility is not seen in the larger scale cooperative system in Kenya, which relies on consistency in larger lots in order to create secure income for the coop’s members. This coffee is a great example of this, one of the very few naturally processed lots exported from Kenya this year, creating a rather different expression of Kenyan terroir.
The Harries family have been living in Kenya since 1904, initially moving to the country from South Africa. The current owner, Boyce Harries, is the fifth generation of the family to farm coffee here. They purchased a small plot of land near Thika, and initially grew several crops, including pineapples and agave. They moved further and further towards coffee in the years that followed, purchasing their first dedicated coffee estate, Chania, in 1926, named for the Chania river that it draws water from. In 1946, Boyce’s grandfather Peter Harries finished his studies in New Zealand and moved to Kenya along with his wife, a New Zealander. They purchased a new estate, slightly smaller and further up the ridge from Chania, and named it ‘Oreti’, a Maori name meaning ‘a place of danger and natural beauty’. It is on this estate that this lot was grown. The lot is a varietal blend, made up of SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11 and SL14. SL14 is seen very rarely, an early selection of Bourbon from Scott Laboratories which was mainly superseded by SL28 and SL34 after they were found to yield better and tolerate disease. The Harries family have kept a small plot of SL14 on the Oreti Estate however, as they believe the cup quality is slightly higher than the varietal’s more modern counterparts. This translates into a deep sweetness in the cup, while the natural process adds some ripe soft fruit notes to the more traditional Kenyan fresh blackberry.
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
|Varietal||SL14, SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11|
The natural, or dry process, is the traditional process, going back generations. When accomplished in a controlled and careful manner, dry processed coffees can produce flavour experiences not found in wet processed coffees, deep fruits and florals, normally with heavier mouthfeel and lower acidity. The cherries are first sorted, and then laid out on in thin layers (2-6 cm) on raised drying beds. These are almost always used for high quality naturals, as they aid airflow around the coffee as it dries, enabling more even drying. It is very important that coffees are sorted very carefully early on in the drying process, as all of the cherries quickly turn dark brown, making it impossible to separate under and overripe cherries. The cherries are turned frequently to avoid mold formation or over-fermentation, until they reach a moisture content of below 20%, and the outer cherry layer shrinks and blackens. This process takes between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.