Kenyan coffees are always among our favorites - bright, complex, and uniquely dynamic - and we're stoked to have Rachel and Stephen Gichuki's coffee back in the quiver.
Rachel and Stephen Gichuki live and farm in Nyeri County, and we first visited and roasted their coffee in 2019. Their coffee was a standout for us two years ago, and after some processing and storage challenges last year, we're glad to showcase the goods again. This year's coffee is juicy, sweet, and fruity, with notes of orange and ruby red grapefruit, fig, apricot, and molasses.
When we first met the Gichukis, we saw not only great coffee, but also a great opportunity for a longterm partnership. Rachel Gichuki, who divides her time between farming and teaching middle school geography up the road, hosted us for a few hours, explaining her challenges, her commitment to environmental sustainability, and her commitment to quality.
One of the challenges the Gichukis and many other Kenyan farmers face is theft. Coffee is a great way to make quick cash, and so theft of already-processed coffee is rampant. Two harvests ago thieves broke into the Gichuki family’s storage room and made off with almost half of the harvest. And last year, the Gichukis tried to avoid theft by moving coffee from the drying tables to locked storage every night, which led to some strange drying and off flavors in the coffee. We still bought their coffee, but it wasn't quite single origin quality.
This year, with new solutions to storage and farm security in place, the Gichukis seem to be back on track. We're excited to continue working with them, and are thoroughly enjoying this harvest from their farm. Good people, and juicy, bright, and complex coffee for us to enjoy here in Colorado!
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Blue Orchid is Huckleberry’s house espresso blend. We serve this coffee every day in our cafes, and it is designed to be approachable, both as espresso and as a brewed coffee, with and without milk. If you’ve ever had a great latte experience at one of Huckleberry’s cafes, Blue Orchid was the base.
While the Blue Orchid blend does change frequently, we try to maintain a sweet, full-bodied, chocolate and caramel flavor profile by using Central and South American coffees specifically chosen for those qualities. This is great tasting comfort coffee, and is a well-rounded crowd pleaser, especially if some of that crowd likes cream in their cup, or is still making the transition from darker roast profiles into specialty coffee. We love intense floral aromatics, but some mornings we just want the chocolate, toffee, and a bit of milk in our mug, and for those days, Blue Orchid is our go-to.
The current version of Blue Orchid is a blend of Brazil Sitio Santo Antonio and Peru Aldea Laurel.
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Don't call it a dark roast! Okay, okay...we won't.
How about we call it Civitas and say it's "a slightly darker roast with slightly longer development"? Yea, that sounds cool!
In either case, we're excited about this one! Huck has long believed that we should (or could) be just as proud of our darker & more developed coffees, as we are of our lighter offerings.
It just took us a while to find a roast profile that still checked all the boxes for us!
Our Civitas blend is meant for the fan of a full bodied coffee with notes of dark sugars, chocolate, toffee, and a great nuttiness -- not unlike our Blue Orchid Blend, but a hair darker than that.
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Familia Reyes is in-your-face, fruity, and tropical - easily one of the wilder Colombias we've roasted at Huck! If you're looking for a coffee that's classic or traditional, you might want to look at other Latin American coffees in our lineup, but if you want to go for a ride, read on.
At it's most basic level, washed coffee goes through the following steps:
1. Harvest the coffee.
2. Depulp the cherry skin from the seed, usually the same day that the coffee is picked.
3. Allow the remaining fruit (called mucilage or honey) to ferment and break down over 12-48 hours.
4. Wash off the mucilage using clean water.
5. Dry the coffee in its final protective layer, called parchment.
6. Mill the parchment off of the coffee just before export.
That's admittedly a gross oversimplification, and there have always been variations on this process, from country to country and from farm to farm. But that's the basic idea. And over the past few years, we've seen producers push the fermentation step in novel ways, removing oxygen or sealing off the coffee during fermentation, keeping the coffee in its cherry for longer before depulping, inoculating fermentation tanks with yeast, using fancy-but-largely-inaccurate scientific buzzwords to attach a label to the process, etc.
Some of these experiments are gross. But with a bit of luck and calculated approach to experimentation, more and more of these processing variations are tasting great, rather than simply interesting. And while we're never put the word "anaerobic" on our bags (because it seems to mean something completely different on every farm) more and more of our coffees are washed, but with some deviation from the norm in fermentation.
In this case, the Familia Reyes - a family Nariño who farm and process their coffee together - stretched fermentation both before and after depulping. After picking, they keep their coffee in-cherry for three days, depulp, then ferment for another 3 days prior to washing. It's risky, but the cool temperatures in Nariño help keep the process in check, and the result is a coffee that's definitely fruity, definitely funky, but keeps those flavors in balance.
This will be Huck's second coffee from La Union de Nariño, an association in Southern Colombia. It follows Segundo Grijalba from a few years back, and comes our way through La Real Expedición Botánica. LaREB is a collective of coffee growers who have banded together to export their coffee and keep more of the value at the farm level, and we've been impressed with their experimental - but actually good! - coffees from the get-go. Keep an eye out for more LaREB at Huck, including a coffee from Marisela Sanchez in Huila and our Skeleton Key Decaf, produced by Ana Mustafa.
For Familia Reyes, expect the unexpected. We're tasting tropical fruit candy (we would've put Sweet Tarts on the bag if we weren't worried about a cease-and-desist), honey, and grape soda in our mugs. It's out there for sure, but it's the good kind of wild.
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