Huckleberry has been roasting coffee from the Long Miles Coffee Project now for four years running, and each year the coffees seem to get better. To be honest, the first year was rough. Two years ago Colline Ninga raised the bar, and last year both Colline Ninga washed and Gitwe Natural were excellent. For this harvest, we're bringing three great coffees from these growers in the hills (collines, in French) of Burundi's Muramvya province. We'll roll out another washed lot from Colline Ninga and a natural from Colline Gitwe a bit later this winter, but first up is a delicious washed coffee from growers on the Gitwe hill.
Burundi has produced coffee for quite some time, but the country's progression towards producing high quality specialty coffee was interrupted in the 1990s and early 2000s by political unrest and ethnic violence spilling over the border from Rwanda, during and after that country's genocide. Despite the continued threat of political instability, and the challenges of being a poor, landlocked country, farmers from Burundi are successfully improving their coffee each and every year, and specialty coffee's higher prices seem to have a major impact on quality of life in the country's coffee growing regions. Moreover, we love the flavors of a great coffee from Burundi.
The Long Miles Coffee Project was founded by Ben Carlson, an American living in Burundi. Ben, upon seeing the difficulties Muramvya farmers faced while working as a coffee trader, built two washing stations in the region, and has worked with area farmers to help them fetch better prices. By working with the farmers to develop stringent quality practices at the farm level, then washing and milling the coffee with meticulous care, Long Miles is able to ensure that the coffee is of the highest quality possible. By working with Huckleberry and other roasters who commit to coffees before they've shipped from Burundi, the Long Miles Coffee Project is able to pay the farmers a higher price for their coffee than they would receive on the open market and from other washing stations.
Gitwe is a specific hill near Long Miles' Heza washing station and this coffee comes exclusively from the Long Miles farmers living on that hill. After tasting samples from different hills, different processing methods, and different periods of the harvest, this particular lot from Gitwe stood out as one of our favorites.
This coffee is a delight to drink, and should please folks who steer towards both sweet, balanced Latin American coffees and those who love bright, complex Kenyans. We taste dates, figs and shortbread cookie sweetness, a bit of baking spice complexity, red berries, and lovely clementine-like brightness. Long Miles is bringing the fire again this year, and we're glad to roast Gitwe Washed in the leadoff position.View full product details
If the Kool-Aid guy drank coffee, it would probably be Wenago Natural. This natural process coffee from Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia is a tropical fruit bomb, and if you've enjoyed our roasts of Ethiopia Ardi, this should be next on your brew list.
Most of the coffee we buy and roast is washed (aka wet-processed), meaning that the coffee seed is removed from its cherry, and washed of all of its fruity material before drying. In the natural process, the cherry is left intact during drying, then removed before export. Natural processing is tricky - it's easy to spoil a coffee and create funky, off flavors. But when the growing conditions are good, the coffee is picked at the correct level of ripeness, and the drying is done slowly and evenly, the coffee can be an otherworldy experience of clean, berry-forward fruit flavors.
Wenago is one of the best naturals we've tasted in a while. This is a testament to the delicious heirloom coffee varieties native to Ethiopia, the high altitude in the Wenago district of Yirchacheffe, and meticulous attention to detail at the Wanago washing station (the spelling is not an error). Roughly 700 smallholder farmers from throughout the Wenago district deliver their coffee to the Wanago station, where Umer Abdu and his washing station staff dry and sort the coffee with the highest level of care.
The result is a coffee that tastes of tropical fruit, watermelon, grape candy, clean brightness, and mixed berries. It's just the burst of summer we need to get us through the winter.View full product details
Ethiopia: it's the birthplace of coffee, and the O.G. is still producing some of the best coffee in the world. At the very least, we love drinking and roasting it, and washed Ethiopian coffees are some of our most memorable cups. Yabitu Koba is our second washed Ethiopian from the 2016 harvest, and it's a juicy, delicate and nuanced pleasure to drink.
Yabitu Koba is a cooperative of small growers in the town of Uraga in Ethiopia's south Guji zone - about as far south as coffee is grown in the country. We think of Yabitu Koba as a sister coffee to one of our favorites from last year, Guji Uraga. Yabitu Koba and Uraga are two small cooperatives in the same town, and are both part of the same larger association, the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. Given two opetions from the same town, this year we decided to hop across town with our partners at Red Fox Coffee Merchants because Yabitu Koba is delicious.
Yabitu Koba's farmers are blessed with some truly amazing growing conditions, and it shows in the cup. As is typical in Ethiopia, Yabitu Koba's farmers do not cultivate coffee in a traditional, industrialized sense, but pick coffee trees amongst a myriad of other trees and crops, under more or less full canopy. This shade, along with the region's heirloom coffee varieties, incredibly high altitudes, ripe-picking, and the Yabitu Koba Cooperative's meticulous washing and drying, all help create this super clean and vibrant coffee.
We taste white grape, honey, subtle sweet herbs, melon, and black tea. If you like the juicy and nuanced, or already know that Ethiopia is your jam, we'd recommend reaching for Yabitu.View full product details
There's no denying it - we're suckers for juicy, bright, and fruit-forward coffees. So, we always look forward to new coffees from Kenya, and our second Kenya of the year, Othaya, is a banger. Ripe blackberry, plum, juicy citrus.
The best Kenyan coffees are mouthwateringly complex - a combination of fruity brightness, deep sweetness, creamy mouthfeel and savory complexity that's unmatched anywhere in the coffee-growing world. High altitudes and rich, red clay soil certainly contribute to these flavors, but Kenya's unique tradition of excellence is also largely a story of plant varieties and meticulous processing.
Kenya's government has taken a keen interest in not just coffee productivity, but also quality, working with Scott Laboratories from the 1930s-1960s to identify varieties based on both flavor and productivity. This work has continued to this day with work on disease-resistant plants, but some of the varieties from this initial study, SL-28 and SL-34 in particular, are considered quality gems. Additionally, Kenyan wet mills, called factories, have a unique approach to removing the fruit from the coffee seed that we eventually roast: extended double fermentation, two washes, and a post-wash soaking period before slow, raised bed drying. In simpler terms, the best Kenyan producers add a few steps to the washing process that help draw out the savory complexity that makes Kenyan coffees so unique, while also helping to create a super clean, juicy cup.
Othaya is a prime example of how these different factors together create a killer coffee. The Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society is a group of approximately 20,000 coffee growers in Nyeri County, one of Kenya's most famed growing regions. 547 of these farmers deliver their coffee cherry to the cooperative's Kiaguthu factory, where it is washed in the traditional-but-complicated Kenyan style, and dried slowly on raised beds. There are lots of stellar Kenyan coffees, but in the case of Othaya Kiaguthu, we think that all the layers of intentionality stack up to a true standout.
This is easily one of the most interesting and complex coffees in our lineup - we taste the juicy citrus pop we've come to expect from the best Kenyans, deep sugary sweetness, and loads of purple fruit, especially blackberry and plum. We don't want to throw shade on the other coffee's in our lineup, but this one's something special.View full product details
Sweet and approachable, but with a kick of fruity brightness, Alejandro Yucra represents what we love from the best Latin American coffees. This coffee is both a perfect example of the comforting flavors that we expect from coffee - hazelnut, milk chocolate, almond - as well as a bit of juicy blackberry and apple that sets it apart from just another solid Peruvian coffee. This is our second year roasting Señor Yucra's coffee, and we've been eagerly waiting for this to land in the US for a few months now.
Most of the Peruvian coffees we drink here in the US come from Northern Peru, specifically the Cajamarca province. These coffees can be delicious, but the southern mountains of country also boast amazing coffee growing conditions, if you're willing to put in a bit of work. That's where our friends at Red Fox Coffee Merchants come in. Aleco Chigounis and Tibed Yujra work hand in hand to find the best coffees in the Puno and Cusco regions, which are a bit less accessible, have fewer roads, and where farmers often have to hike miles with their coffee to simply bring it to market.
Alejandro Chacon Yucra is one of these farmers in Cusco. High altitudes and careful drying are two of many ingredients for great coffee, and Señor Yucra has both in spades. His typica and bourbon trees sit at 2100 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest farms in our coffee lineup. And though it may seem like a boring detail, Señor Yucra has undergone the extra effort to build raised and covered drying beds, which slows down the drying process and helps improve his coffee's quality. The result is an amazing cup - subtle apple and blackberry, with a chocolaty, nutty sweetness (think Nutella) that drinks easy every morning.View full product details
As little as 3-5 years ago, quite a few of us coffee folks looked down on Southern Hemisphere African coffees in comparison to early summer arrivals from Ethiopia and Kenya. Luckily for us, Rwanda and Burundi are producing some of the world's best, most interesting, and seemingly constantly improving coffees, and sending a strong message to check those old preconceptions at the door. Kanzu's back in Huckleberry's lineup for the second year, and we think it's g-d delicious.
Kanzu comes to us from the Nyamesheke district on the southern shore of Rwanda's Lake Kivu. One of the reasons we love Rwandan coffee is that the Lake Kivu area is planted almost entirely in Bourbon, a coffee variety that lends great Rwandan coffees like Kanzu a deep, sugary, syrupy sweetness. Beyond variety though, Kanzu is blessed by great growing conditions and great work. The Kanzu washing station sits at 1900 meters above sea level, with many of its farmers bringing their coffee cherry down from even higher in the Nyamesheke hills. These incredibly high altitudes, combined with excellent harvesting and farming practices, and world-class processing at the washing station, contribute to Kanzu's sparkling brightness and sweet, clean flavors.
Aleco Chigounis of Red Fox Coffee Merchants works with the Kanzu washing station to separate out lots from specific weeks of Rwanda's harvest, each with subtle differences. This year we chose a lot from week 12, and we couldn't be more excited to roast and brew it for you. Deep maple syrup sweetness, cranberry and lemondrop candy brightness, refreshing floral complexity. It's our second year roasting Kanzu, and we're stoked again.
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Tana Toraja is one of those coffees that has the potential to change one's preconceptions about an entire growing region. This coffee comes to us from the region of Tana Toraja, on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, and is one of the cleanest, most pleasant Indonesian coffees we've tried to date. This coffee has the full body and subtle spiciness that lovers of other Indonesian coffees will enjoy, but also has a clean, chocolate and cola sweetness that is a welcome surprise.
The farmers around the region of Tana Toraja bring their coffee cherry to a centralized wet mill called TOARCO Jaya, where it is processed using a washing technique more similar to Central America than most other parts of Indonesia. Tana Toraja is dried slowly, in its parchment, rather than wet-hulled. The process of removing coffee's parchment - a final, husk-like layer covering the bean - before drying, does accelerate drying in Indonesia's humid climate, but also contributes to musty, earthy flavors and premature fading of the beans' better qualities. By leaving the parchment on, and slowing down the drying process, TOARCO Jaya helps create flavors that we at Huckleberry strongly prefer.
Tana Toraja is an outstanding coffee that will please those who love big, full-bodied Indonesian coffees, but will also be a great option for folks who otherwise leand towards clean and sweet Central American coffees. It's a crowd pleaser, too. We love drinking it black, but this coffee's rich flavors and heavy mouthfeel also hold up well to a bit of milk or cream.
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