Enticing notes of lime peel and tart raspberry on the nose introduce a mouthwatering Kiambu profile with tangy rhubarb, red currant, and lemon flavors that are pleasantly balanced by a rich black tea base.
We are thrilled to have beautiful Kenyan coffees on the menu once again! Thanks to careful cherry selection and precisely executed processing, this AB screen size selection from the privately owned and operated Ngarariga Estate in Kiambu County offers a vibrant expression of the SL-28 variety.
The two traditional sources of traceable coffees in Kenya, whether through auction or direct sale, are cooperatively managed wet mills (often referred to as “factories”) and privately owned estates. Passenger’s other recent Kenyan Reserve Lot release, Kamoini AA, is an example of a coffee sourced from a farmer’s cooperative society while the present selection was produced by a private estate.
Ngarariga Estate, managed by Mr. Stephen Muthiora and the Mbuuri family, is an 18 acre farm situated in Kiambu County on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. While a mix of arabica varieties, including SL-28, SL-34, Batian, and Ruiru 11, is a common characteristic of many Kenyan coffees, the Ngarariga Estate specializes in 100% SL-28 lots thanks to their meticulous sourcing of young SL-28 seedlings from the Kenyan Coffee Research Institute.
Kenya is a relatively conservative coffee producing country when it comes to agronomic methods and experimental processing approaches. And, given the well deserved fame that its immaculate wet processed coffees have achieved, this conservatism is perfectly understandable. The clarity of flavor and sparkling acidity of this particular lot is certainly due in part to the carefully managed central processing protocols at Ngarariga Estate. The quality managers on the farm prioritize pulping on the same day that the coffee cherries are harvested, an overnight fermentation before the parchment is washed in the channels, floating of the parchment following the post-fermentation soak, and careful drying on raised beds until the coffee achieves a moisture content of 10.0-10.5%.
The “AB” in the name of this lot indicates that we chose to purchase an AB screen size selection from Ngarariga Estate this year. In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a larger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative wet mill or private estate on any given day. When a delivery arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated according to bean size) and given an outturn-number. Typically beans screened into AA, AB and PB outturns are sold as individual microlots. AAs are flat beans with screen size 18+. ABs are flat beans with screen sizes 16 and 17. These numbers (18, 17 and 16) refer to 64ths of an inch. PBs are peaberries: single, round beans that develop inside of a cherry, as opposed to the two beans that are typically found in a coffee cherry.