This post is a little late. Typically a post about a featured coffee accompanies its initial release, but this coffee has been available on the site for well over a month. Coffee Club members have all had a bag or two in their hands, and the staff at the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic stayed caffeinated with it (and other One Up One Down Coffee offerings) during the week of the event.
So, while this is less of an introduction, and more of a check-in, it gives me an opportunity to provide a little more insight into the coffee than a typical Featured Coffee post. I’ve had a full month-plus to roast, brew, taste and experiment, and I’ve gotten more feedback from others than I would normally have.
I’ll begin by saying this is my favorite coffee I’ve offered so far. I felt that way about the last coffee (Costa Rica Las Lajas Perla Negra), so one might notice a pattern emerging. While both coffees are distinctly different from each other, they share the quality in that they both present well-balanced, full-flavored complexity. The Perla Negra is arguably less complex, offering a chocolate-covered cherry or pomegranate profile, while the Kenya AA Kichwa Tembo is more nuanced and tougher to wrangle into a few recognizable flavor labels.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce the basics of the coffee.
The country of origin, obviously, is the coffee-coveted East African nation of Kenya. “AA” is the grade, referring to bean size and attributing to quality (larger beans can be an indicator of high quality, but certainly not the only factor). AA is the highest grade. Not far from the origins of this coffee is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, home to, among a plethora of iconic African wildlife, the African elephant. I decided to offer Kichwa Tembo, which means “elephant head” in Swahili, just after Kenya’s president very publicly declared, “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants.” He made this declaration as 105 tons of ivory burned, sending a clear message to those endeavoring to profit from the arborant practice of poaching.
This coffee is big. I mentioned the physical bigness, garnering the AA grade. But it’s also big in aroma and flavor. My personal assessment of the flavor profile includes maple syrup sweetness, maybe a touch of pink grapefruit citrus balanced nicely with a spice cabinet savoriness. Other flavors people have reported back include bananas, toffee, dates and baked brown sugar. The mouthfeel up front is consistent with the maple syrup sweetness.
I gave it a try as an iced coffee, using the flash brew method in a Chemex. A coffee this complex, however, didn’t play well iced. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. Very good. But ice tends to hide certain flavor elements and I much prefer this coffee in all its naked glory, not shrouded in the concealment of ice cubes.
I was also very happy to get slightly more creative with the stamp design, adding an elephant head.
Grab a bag! Available in 8, 12 and 18 oz.