Rhubarb, Blackcurrant and Gooseberry
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.
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’.
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