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Kenya-Karatina

Kenya-Karatina

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$23.00
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$23.00
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REGION NYERI
GROWN BY HUNDREDS OF SMALLHOLDER FARMERS, PROCESSED AT KARATINA FACTORY
ELEVATION
1,600-1,700 MASL
VARIETY SL-28, SL-34, BATIAN, RUIRU
PROCESSING KENYA-STYLE 72-HOUR WASHED PROCESS
TASTE NOTES SPICED COCOA, CANDIED RHUBARB, MULHOLLAND DRIVE
SENSORY

STICKY PURPLE FRUIT LEATHER, BLACK CURRANT, VERY FANCY CANDY, PIQUANT, COMPLEX, MYSTERIOUS, INVIGORATING, CHOCOLATEY CORE

IMPORTER RED FOX COFFEE MERCHANTS

 

Coffees from Kenya can be pretty darn polarizing. Many of us industry nerds will wax poetic ad nauseum about how these are the cleanest, most complex, exquisitely processed coffees on the planet. Meanwhile, they’re also notorious for making milk curdle and tasting like tomatoes. Maybe heirloom tomatoes? Either way — not everyone’s cup of tea-like coffee.

Controversy notwithstanding, we’re continually drawn to coffees from Kenya. Their quality ceiling is more like a skylight — sipping the best of ‘em feels like seeing a night full of twinkly, mesmerizing stars that you maybe hadn’t thought about for awhile. And even though recent years’ downshifting median quality is well-documented (s/o Mr. Feran!), the sky’s still a mighty high ceiling, and our stubborn, starry-eyes won’t be looking away anytime soon.

So with all this said, what a pleasure it is when an offer like Karatina lands in front of us. Thanks to new-friends-and-importers Red Fox Coffee Merchants, we tasted a pair of Kenyan coffees fresh off their first container of the season and were struck by the razzle-dazzle dynamism of this one. Farmed by a few hundred producers who are part of the broader Barichu Cooperative Society, Karatina is among the oldest coffee “factories” in Nyeri Country, which — alongside its high elevation and mild climate — perhaps explains its sustained reputation for truly high-quality stuff. Most of the farmers who bring their coffee to Karatina work very small plots of land, as is the norm in Kenya. The team at the factory then handles the exhaustive, meticulous washing and drying process that is customary to Kenya.

In the end, there’s a ton going on in this cup, but it all works together with beguiling elegance, like a far-fetched Rube Goldberg machine that somehow sticks a perfect landing, every time. Take rhubarb — it’s a vegetable, right? Sure, allegedly. But does Karatina taste vegetal? Not at all. It manages to evoke the essence of crazy things like rhubarb and cayenne, all while cleverly convoluting them with oodles of sticky sweetness. To make sense of its sensory twists and turns, we recommend either leaning into Lynchian dream-logic or simply suspending disbelief altogether. Whichever you choose, we encourage it.