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Tasting Blog: Kenya AA Chania Estate French Mission by La Terza Artisan Coffee Roasterie

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This is the first of what we hope to be many tasting blogs in the future featuring roasters from Louisville, the Midwest, and nationally. Our hopes in doing this are threefold. First, we want to bring exposure to great roasters and shops we believe are doing good in the specialty coffee movement. Second, we want to introduce these roasters to the readers of our blog. And third, we love trying out great coffees in the office!

La Terza Artisan Coffee Roasterie is located in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati. They are primarily a wholesale roaster and provide coffee to many shops in the greater Cincinnati area. You can find out more about them here, and watch a video featuring Chuck Pfahler here.

We contacted Chuck and told him about what we are all about, as well as what we are wanting to accomplish with this series of blogs. We could not have hoped for a more hospitable and excited response! You have to love that about the coffee community; folks helping each other and supporting each other from city to city. He was also kind enough to share with us a fresh pound, roasted and mailed the same day, on him.

La Terza has recently added several new coffees to the online store. We decided to try out the Kenya AA Chania Estate French Mission, because frankly, we love east African coffees at Prima. "French Mission" is the name of the varietal of this bean, grown from the Chania Estate, in the Thika District of Kenya. Some believe it to be an early Bourbon brought to Kenya and a possible predecessor to the more popular SL-28 and SL-34 varieties.

It is definitely different from most Kenya coffee that we have tasted in the office. It was bright, but not highly acidic; not berry-like and citrusy like other Kenya coffees. It was one of the more complex coffees we have tasted, and with pour over and french press methods, the flavors were very compact and tight as the coffee took about five minutes to open up so the notes could emerge. It was a tough one to figure out, but that was the fun! This was a washed process bean. I'm thinking it was a City+ to a Full City roast, although it looked much darker by sight. A little research and I found that this coffee darkens considerably at the City+ range and can appear to be a darker roast than it actually is. By taste, I'd have to say it was right on the end of a City+ roast, maybe the beginning of a Full City roast (Chuck you can correct me here if I'm wrong!).

We first tried the Kenya on the second day after roast. Our first brew method was a pour over with the Hario V60 Ceramic Dripper. We were trying to brew enough for the office, without getting crazy! Our dosage was 72 grams to just over 1 liter to fill the Hario 1000ml server, with the last drop falling at the 4:00 mark, so a good grind with the Skerton and a great slow, constant pour with the Buono. The temperature was right around 200-202. On day two we also used a French Press, which brought excellent results. On the third day after roast, we used a Chemex, and the Aeropress just happened to come in that day, so of course we had to try it! With the Aeropress, there are so many variations that can greatly change the product. Peter went with a more concentrated brewing method, using 25 grams of coffee, finely ground (but not as fine as espresso), and only about 4 ounces of water at about 200 degrees, with about a 50 second brew time. I went with 20 grams, a medium grind, with just under a minute brew time. And finally, about seven days from roast, Chris was kind enough to come in and bring his Mypressi Twist so that we could try the Kenya as an espresso.

These were all great tasting experiences. Not only was this a high quality bean, but La Terza roasted it with quality, allowing the origin properties of the bean to be expressed. Through all the brew methods, the Kenya gave an aroma of spices, especially of cardamom (think chai). With pour over methods and in the french press, the flavors opened up after about six minutes. We noted bittersweet dark chocolate, star fruit, nectarines, and a medium body. This was a very balanced, well-structured yet complex cup. It should be noted that a couple of folks in the office who admit they are not connoisseurs, said that this was a very accessible cup for those with a beginner's palette, especially when brewed with a French press (great gift idea!). As an espresso, this coffee was incredible! There was still a spiciness and slight citrus notes, but now there was more of a milk chocolate sweetness, with a very buttery body.

All in all, we were extremely pleased with this Kenya from La Terza. We are thankful that our neighbors from up the Ohio River have an awesome roasterie in their town. Remember to check them out if you are ever up in Cincinnati!

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Personal Favs of the tasting in order of tastiness:

1) Mypressi (clouds opened overhead and I think I heard a choir singing one clear, harmonized note)
2) Aeropress (difficult to believe this little plastic tube is made by Frisbee makers when it pushes that good of a taste out of a roast)
3) V60 / Chemex (couldn't decide which was better)
4) French Press (wasn't bad of course, but just sat a little heavy on the tongue for me in the Press)

My favorite was when we used the Chemex, mainly because that is when I was able to acquire the most. In response to Kirk's mypressi comment, it is impossible for one note to be sung in harmony.

hate you

...for stating things factually

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