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Rwanda Karaba Cooperative

July 3, 2005
Jim Schulman

Rwanda's coffee industry is making a solid recovery, and some very fine specialty coffees are finding there way here. The Rwandan coffees I've had in the past two years have been close to Tanzanian coffees in their flavors; so the Karaba was a surprise. I roasted it to a medium City Roast, 435F in 11 minutes. The beans came out dark, like Kenyan SL28s.

If one rolled all the dessert flavors found in east African coffees into one comfort food cup; this would be it. The cup smells of ripe blackberries, which also fills the initial taste. Then one notices the dark chocolate underneath, and the sweetness that balances the brisk berry acidity. As the cup cools, the chocolate notes remain, and the flavor of candied orange peel comes to the fore. It also dominates the aftertaste, leaving a lovely, clean impression.

There's probably only one roast to get the best of this coffee. Don't roast it beyond the first pop of the second, since you would lose the candied orange; and don't leave it too light, otherwise the roast tastes will be toasty or nutty rather than chocolate. Darker roasts will also taste good, since there's plenty of sugar to create a bitter-sweet chocolate roast taste; but you'd lose the top end. This may be a good choice for a melange of 2/3 lighter roast for the fruit, and 1/3 darker roast for the chocolate.

The flavors stay intact for espresso shots; so this will make a good single origin shot at a first pops of the second roast. The flavors are mild, so this is not a good candidate for blends or milk drinks.

Dry Fragrance: 4.0
Wet Aroma: 4.0
Flavor: 8.5
Finish: 8.5
Acidity: 8.5
Body: 7.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50) 90.5

  • Lighter Roasts: Sweet Orange, Blackberries, Nuts
  • Darker Roasts: Orange fades to orange peel, nutty roast tastes become chocolate
  • As Espresso: Cup flavors make it to the SO shot; too mild for milk drinks


UPDATED: June 27, 2005