April 28, 2012

Rwanda: One Exceptional Example

I've made my affection for all things Yirgacheffe known. I find it a welcome break from convention, a clean and crisp cup that shows that coffee doesn't always taste like coffee. That said, it's not for everyone. It is not, despite my love for it, what I recommend people start with, if they're new to specialty coffee. So, perhaps not surprisingly, the Yirgacheffe is something of a controversial drip offering, at my place of business.

But of course, nothing is for everyone - except on the rare occasion that it is. I hadn't seen such a coffee during my several years as a barista, until this last week, when we brewed a nice little number from Rwanda.

And I do mean little. The first thing you notice is the size of the been; it's tiny, like a little coffee pellet. The bean itself is very light as well, which might lead you to expect a bright, acidic cup, like something from Ethiopia or Kenya.

And you wouldn't be totally wrong. There is a sweetness to the brew, and certainly more acid than a Sumatra. But whereas the Yirgi is light and lemony, the Rwanda is boldly smoky, assertive in its character and body. It's like hickory smoked barbecue in a cup, and it was universally loved. Our staff adored it, as did every customer that commented.

Now, I should say that this bean was from Broadway Coffee, and that my cafe carries their product. But I should also say that their products are uniformly unique and exceptional, each bean coaxed to its full flavor potential. You can't buy their Rwanda online, sadly; although if you live in the Kansas City area, you can get it at their cafe.

But you can search out something from Rwanda, wherever you might get your beans. Though this is only one example, its a compelling one to me, a startling example of an overlooked region proving why it shouldn't be.

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