This is our second Crown Jewel offering from the Muiri Estate in Kiambu County, Kenya. This is a traditional double washed peaberry coffee and is certified organic. It's super rare to find organic peaberry coffees in Kenya, so this rare gem not only checks the box of being delicious, but also of being certified.
The Muiri Estate is in Kiambu, just north of Nairobi but a little south of the more frequently seen specialty producing regions of Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Embu. The Kenya Kiambu Peaberry is well balanced and has sweet, bright, lemongrass and blackberry notes without being overwhelming. A clean and lovely delivery from Kenya, and one you're sure to enjoy.
Origin InformationGrower - Muiri Coffee Estate
Variety - SL28, SL34, K7, and Ruiru 11
Region - Kiambu County, Kenya
Harvest - October thru December 2020
Altitude - 1537 to 1550 m (5043 to 5085 ft)
Soil - Volcanic loam
Process - "Double washed" Pulped, fermented, washed, soaked overnight, and dried on raised beds
Certifications - Organic
We roasted this batch of Kenya Peaberry to a full medium roast. Depending on the grind and brewing method, this Kenya Kiambu Peaberry Crown Jewel can produce notes of bright, lemongrass and blackberry sweetness.
As with most Top-Shelf coffees, we suggest using the pour-over method to maximized the aroma and flavor of this Crown Jewel coffee using a 1:16 coffee to water ratio with the water between 200F and 205F. Once grounds are placed in the filter, pre-soak grounds by covering with water for ~30sec to allow for blooming, then finish with either a steady pour or a couple of short pours to complete the brewing process.
By Colin Cahill, Royal Coffee
Having helped with some of the Ikawa sample roasts of these dense little peaberries, I was excited to get involved with the brew analysis. They had developed the loveliest, complex, fruity scent, and I wanted to try them on a few different brewers, selecting the Saint Anthony Industries C70, the Kalita Wave, and the Origami dripper. To highlight the range of flavors and complexity of these beans, I focus my analysis on the C70 and the Kalita Wave — contrasting the conical and flat brew beds as well as that thicker Saint Anthony Industries Perfect Paper filters with the thinner Kalita Wave filter.
The C70 yielded a light and refined brew with bright fruity notes and lovely, soft cinnamon, jasmine, and nougat flavors in the aftertaste. Sweet with a fruity acidity, the C70 brew’s dominant flavors include grapes (both concord and green), berries (especially blackberries), kiwi, and a soft lime. This was a lovely starting point for playing with this coffee, and while I was happy to sit sipping on this delicate, fruity brew, I was excited to see how it performed in a flatbed brewer.
Working with the same dosing, grind size, and pours, I watched as the brew on the Kalita Wave came through 25 seconds quicker while also extracting a lot more from the grounds. This brew really highlighted the acidity and sweetness of the beans, yielding a maple syrupy, toffee and lemon curd sugariness with a buttery body. We tasted notes of lemon, lime, hibiscus, cherry, and annatto. The Origami brewer yielded a similar body to the Kalita Wave, with similar extraction specs, and it really highlighted a peach note and a malic acid acidity, reminiscent of the mouthfeel of a tart granny smith apple. This is another bright, complex Crown Jewel that is fun to play with and I can’t wait to get this on our pour-over bar.
This coffee is sourced from the Muiri Estate located in Kiambu County, Kenya. Muiri Estate has over 443 acres of land with 216 in use for coffee cultivation intercropped with over 200 species of trees totaling more than 90,000, which includes grevillea and eucalyptus trees. Additional land has been set aside and shared with 1,000 local families to cultivate beans. The estate has its own wet-mill where cherry selection, depulping, fermentation, washing, and drying are meticulously executed. When coffee is milled for export, the green beans are sorted by screen size and graded according to size and shape. The round shaped peaberry, formed from the maturation of one seed per cherry rather than the typical two seeds,are labeled PB.
By Charlie Habegger of Royal Coffee
Kiambu county sits adjacent to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and is a coffee powerhouse. Along with an extensive community of coffee mills, exporter warehouses and quality labs, and the Coffee Research Institute (near Ruiru Town, after which the disease-resistant hybrid is named), Kiambu is also home to many of Kenya’s largest and oldest coffee estates. Despite the vast number of smallholder farmers in Kenya the estate system persists — and in many cases reflects — both Kenya’s colonial origins and its current identity as a self-actualized producer of some of the world’s most obsessed-over profiles.
Coffee’s history in Kenya is astonishingly short compared to Ethiopia, its neighbor to the north, with the introduction of coffee occurring just before the turn of the 20th century at the hands of French missionaries who brought Bourbon-lineage coffee trees from nearby Tanzania, which were originally transplanted to the continental mainland from Réunion Island.
As the value of the cash crop grew in the European marketplace, the British settlers would force indigenous Africans out of the trade by outlawing coffee production outside their colonial estate network. This however did not stop the British from requiring unpaid, enslaved labor from the same people to further reduce their costs and boost output for the colony. It wouldn’t be until the years of conflict prior to Kenya’s independence, from 1952-1960, that indigenous Africans would be permitted to plant coffee—although for years afterward plantings were severely limited and none of the coffee produced by smallholders was permitted to be consumed. Since independence, the large estate holdings have evolved to reflect Kenya’s modern demographic: ownership can be single families, corporations, or groups of shareholders.
Estates of this size with no mechanization for harvesting require massive amounts of labor, and Muiri has developed not only a cottage community for its staff but has also donated enough of its own land for 1,000 families to grow beans, a common household staple in Kenya. The property uses a dam to gather fresh water for fermentation, which is then re-used for moving cherry through the pulper before placing it in seepage pits for filtration.
In the case of Muiri Estate, a 443-acre farm with 216 acres of planted coffee, it is a local family and management team. The estate is named after an African tree species, the Prunus africana—or “muiri” in the local Kikuyu language. Muiri has over 150,000 coffee trees in production and 94,000 old and new-growth trees for shade throughout the property.
Muiri is organic certified. This is not to be overlooked, particularly in Kenya whose delicate cultivars, smallholder-dominant system, ageing trees, and climate change leave very little room to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use, as a matter of survival for hundreds of thousands. Muiri’s formidable resources, however, are being used in the right direction. They have been certified since 2008 and continuing to raise and process beautiful coffees using wholly organic inputs and canopy management.
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