Coffee Review: Verve Coffee Roasters – Kenya Karinga
Verve Coffee Roasters - Kenya Karinga$22
Last week I reviewed Verve Coffee Roasters' Ethiopia Duromina. Today, I have another Verve coffee review: the Kenya Karinga.
Overall, I was somewhat disappointed by the Ethiopia Duromina, so I was hoping for something better out of this bag of Kenyan beans. After all, I am obsessed with Kenyan coffees.
In fact, Kenya is probably my favorite coffee-producing country at the moment. So I'd say I had higher expectations going into this review vs. the last Verve review.
About Verve Coffee Roasters
Verve Coffee Roasters got its start in Santa Cruz, CA and has expanded to 6 additional shops (at the time of this review) in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.
Their shops are beautiful, their staff is friendly, and their coffee is excellent quality. Verve is quickly becoming one of the bigger names in the West Coast coffee scene.
About The Producers (Gitwe Farmers Cooperative Society)
According to MistoBox (who, I ironically did not get this coffee from), the Karinga was grown by the Gitwe Farmers Cooperative Society in the Thika region at 1650-1800 masl.
You can read more about the Karinga factory and the Gitwe Farmers Cooperative Society here.
General Notes & Observations
Producers: Gitwe Farmers Cooperative Society
Country of Origin: Kenya
Variety: SL-28 & Sl-34
Processing method: Wet Processed
Farm elevation: 1650-1800 masl
Aroma: Buttery, floral, raspberry, chocolate
Roaster tasting notes: Tangerine, fruit punch, luminous
Coffee Concierge tasting notes: Tangerine, butter, milk chocolate, floral, cinnamon, red wine.
About the Variety (SL-28 & SL-34)
In his book, The World Atlas of Coffee, James Hoffman notes that the SL-28 variety was conceived in Kenya by Scott Laboratories in the 1930s, selected from a drought-resistant variety from Tanzania. The beans are notably larger than average, and they are known for their particularly fruity flavor, often described as blackcurrant.
SL-34 first appeared in Tanzania before making its way to Kenya. Hoffman notes that it is also known for its fruity notes, but is generally considered to be inferior to SL-28.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of The World Atlas of Coffee if you're interested in learning more about coffee varieties. James Hoffman also recently created a timeline poster of coffee varieties.
I used a pretty nice variety of brew methods with the Kenya Karinga:
I brewed up the Karinga about 4 times with my AeroPress and had mixed results.
The first couple of times I brewed with the AeroPress, the resulting coffee was under-extracted and overall, quite sour. I got some interesting flavor notes though, which included: salsa verde, cinnamon, and floral.
Once I increased the extraction a bit by going finer with my grind and thus lengthening the brew time, I got more of a tangerine and red wine flavor. The body was also very heavy.
More of the fruit explosion I was hoping for once I dialed the Karinga in.
I had fantastic results with my Chemex.
In my first brew, I used 24g of coffee, 432g of water, water off-boil. #56 grind setting, inner burr #4 on my Breville Smart Grinder Pro. 10 days off roast. Total brew time: 5 minutes
Tasting notes included: tangerine, milk chocolate, butter (like the aroma). Very, very good.
I brewed the Karinga via French Press only once, but I had nice results.
I used James Hoffman's method, which he outlines in the same coffee book I mentioned earlier: The World Atlas of Coffee.
The essence of this method is that it involves longer steep times, and no pressing (to limit agitation and sludge). Specifically, it's a 4 minute steep, remove “crust”, 5 minute steep, no press, pour through filter.
Although I only brewed the Karinga one time with the JavaPresse, the results were quite unique.
There were butterscotch and wood notes when I used a medium grind setting. Since this was my only brew, this is all I got for you on this one.
I only brewed once with the Kalita Wave, but I got good results.
#54 grind setting (coarse), 212˚F brew temperature, 4:15 brew time. 24g coffee 360g water (15:1 ratio).
Cinnamon and red wine flavor notes.
If you’re new here, you can check out how I rate whole bean coffee here.
I thought the Karinga had a nice fruity acidity to it. Many times it was reminiscent of red wine or tangerines, rarely overbearing.
Nothing particularly notable about the aftertaste from what I was able to pick up.
Buttery, chocolate, raspberry…really delicious and prominent aroma.
Consistently good balance between floral, fruity, and smokey flavor notes.
Red wine-like body was one of the highlights of the Karinga in my opinion.
There was a whole spectrum of flavors that I experienced with the Karinga. Butterscotch, tangerine, red wine, salsa verde, cinnamon, floral. Would have been perfect in this category if there was more to the aftertaste.
Overall, I was very pleased with the way this coffee tasted when brewed correctly. It packed plenty of flavor with plenty of complexity.
I was only dissatisfied with a couple brews, which is indicative of the coffee's forgiveness. The Karinga worked well with most brew methods, many times right off the bat.
Nice fruity and floral sweetness, which was often balanced out by contrasting flavors.
It worked well for pretty much every brew method I used, even the frequently neglected (in my kitchen) French Press.
The Karinga represented more of what I was hoping for from Verve's Ethiopia Duromina.
Sweet, fruity, complex, forgiving, and versatile across brew methods, the Karinga may end up as one of my top-rated coffee's from 2016.
Unfortunately, for the second week in a row I published this review too late, because the Karinga is already unavailable for the time being.
Keep an eye out for this coffee in Spring 2016 though, as I'm pretty confident it will be back again. You can also check with Verve on when they expect it to be back.