Rwanda Bourbon from Röststätte Berlin

I'm having my first single estate Rwandan Gashonga coffee. As far as African coffee goes, I've only tried Kenyan and Ethiopian ones.

The coffee is grown by the Co-operative des Cafecultuerurs de Gishoma, or short, COCAGI, near the southern shore of Lake Kivu, where Belgian colonial farmers first planted coffee trees. 

Rwanda grows almost exclusively bourbon cultivar. The climate is perfectly suited for specialty coffee with rich volcanic soils and high altitudes. 

I bought the coffee at cafe & rostery Röststätte in Berlin and asked the owner and coffee roaster Ivo Weller for some of his Chemex insights. 15 grams of coffee on 220ml of water was his tip. I rested the water 30 seconds after boil and gave the grinds 30 seconds of blooming and came up to 1.5 mins of poring. My Hario grinder was set on 16.

One thing I love about the Chemex, is that the enjoyment begins already before I sip one bit of coffee. It's a beautiful way to make and serve coffee. Of course this doesn't compensate for a luck lustre result. And like so often before, my brew didn't taste what I was hoping for. Lacking flavour across the board, I might have ground the beans to coarse. I'll try tomorrow a slightly finer grind and see what my palate says.

I ask myself what these coffee farmers in Rwanda or elsewhere would have to say about all these coffee nuts like me, tinkering around with all these fancy tools only to stumble at the last hurdle. A little joke springs to mind. "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." 

 

What's your secret sauce?

I'm back in Berlin at The Barn specialty coffee rosters. As with so many people in our post-industrial world, I often work for hours, silently, in front of a radiant blue screen.  Pseudo socialising and reading (The Epi-Paleo RX by Dr. Jack Kruse) in a busy cafe helps to alleviate MacBook Pro loneliness. 

I'm keen to find out why my Chemex, Aeropress and V60 coffees I brew at home, just don't have the clarity and subtle flavours I get at places like The Barn.

The V60 Ethiopian Yirgacheffe I order, is again, far better than what I'm currently extracting at home. It might be the water quality or grind consistency. I'll make a V60 at home tonight with some Volvic water and see what happens.

I think one of the top export articles from Australia, apart from merino wool, mineral resources and Ugg boots, must be their baristas. Many of The Barn baristas behind the counter are from Down Under.   

Shades of taste

The picture below refers to my previous post about speciality coffee in Cologne, or more precisely about the two coffee rosters Schamong and Van Dyck in Cologne Ehrenfeld. Furthermore it helps of course to have a closer look at the beans roast colour and its size in order to understand the resulting flavours. 

After being slightly disappointed with the Schamong and Van Dyck filter coffees, I took a closer look at the coffee beans I'm using at the moment for my home made coffee. A Kenyan espresso roast from The Barn in Berlin, a Guatemalan espresso roast from Die Rösterei Moxxa and a Ethiopian Sidamo filter roast from Van Dyck

It's easy to see that The Barn espresso roast is actually lighter in colour even than the filter roast from Van Dyck. This might explain why I'm missing the acidity and fruitiness in Van Dyck's darker filter roast. The Guatemala espresso roast from Die Rösterei is significantly darker and oilier than The Barn espresso roast. Anyway, enough talk. I'm going to brew the last The Barn Kenyan beans with my Aeropress and see if I can extract some acidity and fruit from their light espresso roast.

For a single origin coffee beginner like myself, I find that the washed high altitude African beans are really addictive. So far, I find any filter coffee lacking acidity still rather unexciting. Enough now. I have to get out. The sky out there is showing its rare winter blue colour. 

Single origin coffee at Schamong and Van Dyck in Cologne

I'm in Cologne Ehrenfeld checking out, together with my cousin, a couple of speciality coffee roasters. Our first coffee is a Brazilian V60 at Schamong Kaffee, Cologne's oldest coffee roaster. This single origin Brazilian bean is really unexciting. Not my cup of tea. It's my first Brazilian single origin coffee. I'm missing acidity and fruitiness, which I have gotten use to with most African beans. I'm not sure if that's the way Brazilian coffee generally tastes or if the barista is having a bad day. 

We make our way over to the nearby coffee roster Van Dyck, hoping to find some more complex flavours. I order a french press Ethiopian Sidamo as they don't serve any V60, Chemex or Aeropress. And again, nothing special, just a decent cup of coffee. I'm a bit surprised seeing the barista serve the coffee in the coffee maker and not in some decanter. French press coffee should be decanted in order to avoid over-extraction. I'm probably a bit spoiled by a couple of great Berlin speciality coffee places (The Barn, CK, Five Elephant, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Röststätte). For my taste, Schamong and Van Dyck roast their filter coffees (at least the ones I tried) a bit to dark, perhaps loosing some of the lighter fruity flavours and some sweetness and acidity.