The Selection Process and How We Chose Our Kenya Kamwangi AA

We are so excited to present our NEW Kenya Kamwangi AA. This is one of the most unique coffees we have ever carried here at Buddy Brew. Our Head Roaster, Phil, has been tasting coffees from all over the world every single day. We have always stayed true to this. We get coffees from all over specific origins and compare them side by side. This year has been one of the craziest when it comes to the variety of coffee we have tasted. We are making connections with importers, exporters and growers from all over the world. Buddy Brew is making waves and everyone wants to work with us! In this post, I want to explain to you all how much time goes into selecting the coffee, developing the coffee and getting it into your hands!

For every coffee we decide to buy here at Buddy Brew there are about 40 other ones that we roast, sample and analyze and in the end, choose not too buy. That means we only buy about 2.5% of ALL of the coffees we try every year. That is A LOT of coffee to say no to! This is by no means an easy decision. Everyday we are receiving samples from incredible importers, some old friends and some young bloods in the market. We give them all a chance! There is so much amazing coffee out there, but we have to pick our favorite ones. That means we have to say no to a lot of really incredible coffees.

To tell you a little more about our importer and how we chose this one here is our Head Roaster, Phil:

I am excited to share this Kenya with our customers and baristas because this years offering is exceptional. It comes from Collaborative Coffee Source (CCS), one of our new coffee relationships we made this year. While I was in Atlanta this year at the the Specialty Coffee Symposium, CCS hosted an amazing cupping of some of there freshest offerings from various countries like Guatemala, Ethiopia, Burundi, Honduras, which were all farm and varietal specific. Each country had outstanding coffees unlike any I have had before, but their Kenya offerings were what I was most interested in.

Kenyan coffees are known to be some of the most amazing coffees in the world and always show up in the cup as BIG on all fronts (acidity, body, sweetness). Its very common that you will taste notes of stone fruit and a tomato like savory acidity. What I am most excited about with this offering is that it shows off more grapefruit like florals and a citrus acidity. Its so sweet and most importantly its clean with out ANY negative flavors. We kept the roast level on this coffee fairly light so that all the regional characteristics could be picked up in the cup, while still developing it enough to make sure those caramelized sugar notes are detectable as well. This is a pristine cup, I am really happy with it and I am also really excited about the future and getting to serve more amazing coffees from CCS.

Coffee is a never ending learning experience. We are expanding our knowledge by trying all of these great coffees and really learning what you guys love! We try to get a great variety of coffee so that we can serve every kind of coffee drinker. Anything from your traditional, sweet, and chocolatey coffee all the way to some of the most innovative and unique processing methods in the world creating a complex, fruity, and remarkable coffee.

Once we try all of our samples and finally decide on a coffee. We negotiate a contract to buy the coffee, sometimes directly from the farmer and sometimes from the exporters and importers who are at the origin and buying directly from farmers. Buying from these avenues gives us the chance to get our hands on some really exclusive and FRESH coffee. Sometimes we are buying lots of coffee that are still being grown and have not even been processed yet. Farmers are able to send us pre-sample selections of their coffee so that we can make a decision as soon as possible. Once we choose a coffee it can take anywhere from 1-4 months to get to us! That’s not saying the coffee spends that much time on a boat though. As I said before sometimes the coffee isn’t even ready for exportation. Trying these coffees so early will ensure us the coffee we want. This our reason for going directly to origin to find coffees. That way we get first pick on ANY coffee we would like. While Dave and Phil were in Colombia there were able to taste coffee at its freshest point. Now that we have chosen the coffee, we can move on to profile development!

Choosing the coffee is a long and analytical process. This is the easy part! Developing the bean is a LONG, intense process. We break down each part of the roast (time, curves, air flow, heat, development, etc..). This is a very complex and intense process that I won’t go into today. Doing all of this takes about 30-40 “sample” roasts. We try every single one comparing notes, making changes, and configuring every variable possible. This can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. For just ONE bean. If you ever come to our West Kennedy location, where our roaster is located, you can almost ALWAYS see our roasters “cupping” coffee (this is the term for tasting coffee). Here is our cupping formula for those of you who want to try this at home:

  • First get your supplies together! You will need:
    • A notepad (to keep notes on each coffee) Whole Bean Coffee, a Grinder, a Kettle, Cups (a cup for each coffee you would like to try), a Scale, at least 2 spoons (and one for every person who is tasting), access to a heating element and water, cups for water, a timer, and a cup (or a few) for grounds
  • Start to boil water.
  • Weigh 11.3 grams of coffee in each cup (you can repeat all of this in multiple cups to try beans side by side) then grind for a pour over (medium ground, right in the middle of most grinders)
    • So you will have a coffee mug or cup(s) with 11.3 grams of ground coffee at the bottom of it.
    • Give these grounds a smell. This is how we find the “aroma” of coffees. Use your note pad to put down what YOU smell. Cupping is a personal experience and no two palates are the same!
  • Grab a timer (or use your phone)
  • Boil water (preferably with a gooseneck kettle for better accuracy)
  • Place your cup with the grounds on your scale
  • Start your timer and start to apply boiling water (195 degrees to be exact) to your grinds. The faster you can apply water to the ground coffee, the better.
    • Be sure to wet ALL of the grounds. Dry grounds will reduce extraction and will produce a watery cup that will not give you the true flavors of the coffee
  • When your timer hits two minutes, you will then “break the grounds”. Use the back of your spoon to push the grounds from the surface down. Slowly move your spoon from front to back of the cup. Be sure not to spill! While you do this get your nose as close to the coffee as possible and give it a big smell. This will help you to better identify flavors in the tasting process!
    • Don’t forget your cups of water. They aren’t for drinking! They are for rinsing your spoon. Every time your spoon goes into a new cup you need to dip it in the water and shake it off. You don’t want to compromise your cups by mixing coffees
  • After this we will “clean” the cup. Take your two spoons and create a wall at the edge of the cup facing you. Drag the two spoons side by side and edge to edge, with the front of the spoons facing you, from the back to the front of the cup (the further edge to the closer edge) and scoop that top later of grounds and foam off the top of the cup. You want to scoop as much of the grounds off the top of the cup as possible, without removing too much liquid. Take what is in your spoon and dispose of it in a cup. Be sure not to put grounds down your sink or you could clog it!
    • Don’t forget to rinse your spoons!
  • After this wait until minute 8-10. The you are ready to cup! Be careful and make sure your coffee isn’t too hot. Every one has different thresholds for whats too hot. Burning your tongue will ruin your cupping experience (and hurt!). Fill your spoon with coffee and try to “slurp” the coffee off of the spoon. Be careful not to breathe too hard so you don’t choke on the coffee! We do this “slurping” method so we can spread the coffee over our entire palate. This way we can get the full experience of each coffee! Be careful not too drink too much coffee when doing this. There is A LOT of caffeine in these cups. Feel free to slurp the coffee, get a good taste, then spit the coffee into another cup or your sink. This is a lot like how wine tastings work. You still get the full spectrum of flavor of the coffee without getting too wired or sick from all of the caffeine.
  • Try and break down a few key notes of coffee. Flavor, body, acidity and roast level. Flavors will range from chocolatey to fruity to herbaceous to grainy to savory to any thing you can think of! Check out the SCAA Flavor Wheel below for more information on this. Body is going to be how it feels in your mouth. Is it creamy (full bodied), juicy (makes your mouth salivate), tea-like (light and clean), buttery (with a lot of texture) or however YOU think it feels.
  • Then clean up! This is a messy process and there is no way to keep it clean. Get your hands dirty and take notes! You will learn a ton and really understand the time and analytics we put into each bean we serve here at Buddy Brew.

Flavor Wheel

Credit to SCAA for creating this amazing flavor wheel. Check out their website for ENDLESS information about coffee and the coffee industry

And that’s how we cup! Do some research and find your favorite set up! Cupping is the best way to learn more about coffee. It is a great way to observe the uniqueness of each cup. You can really learn a lot about what coffee is your favorite. We are doing about 15 types of coffee in each cupping, multiple times a day. We have been doing this for a long time and we are STILL learning! Once we are done cupping the coffee (over multiple weeks) we are ready to bag it up and sell it! From here we create the perfect pour over recipe so that you can enjoy an amazing cup right here in our stores.

African coffees are some of the most distinctively unique coffees in the world. This is where coffee was born! You can find varieties of coffee here that can not be found anywhere else in the world. Coffee is so wild there, that scientists have not even identified all of the different varietals. Each varietal of coffee is very unique from the next one. Things that change are moisture content, beans size, and density. These variables are affected by altitude, varietal, and processing method. Our Kenya is a fully washed coffee. This means all of the cherry is removed from the coffee and then sun dried. A lot of African countries use the “natural” or dry process method. They do this because the lack of access to clean water. In this method the coffee is left in the cherry when it is dried. This produces a more “wild” cup. These will have notes of fermentation, fruit, and flowers.

We love natural processed coffees, but there was something unique about our Kenya that we had to have. It was able to produce an amazingly fruity and sweet cup without having to sacrifice on the cleanliness of the cup. This means the flavors are easily identified throughout the cup, from the first taste to the after taste. It is also a very complex cup, which essentially means there is a lot going on with the flavors! It starts with a well rounded, natural sweetness similar to cane sugar. From here there are peaks of acidity similar to a fresh grapefruit. The actual taste remind us of a concord grape. It has the sweetness of a grape with some more complexity like a darker stone fruit (cherry, plum, etc..). We know we over analyze coffee, but we believe this is necessary to give you guys the best idea of what you are buying!

We love coffee here at Buddy Brew. We are passionate about creating amazing coffees. It is such a unique process. It is an amazing combination of art and science. There are so many different ways to create a great cup and we love to try all of them. Coffee is more then just a morning beverage for us here. Coffee is our way of life and our passion. It is a social substance that brings people together. It’s a great way to start the day, the best gift and an amazing experience to share with someone. Coffee is such a staple in our culture and we embrace everything about it here! Buy our new Kenya today and you’ll have a new appreciation to the work we put into getting you guys the BEST coffee in the world! Come down to our location at 2020 W. Kennedy in Tampa, FL Monday-Friday to meet the roasters. They love to talk and teach, so bring on the questions!