Auction Lot 1135

Last year, in ’06, I had a cup of Kenya coffee, Counter Culture’s Thangathie, that was just as juicy as grapefruit and tangerines and fruity brightness and acidity such as those citricy things. The coffee had been Cloverized, the only Clover I have ever tried, and I don’t know if that gave it a little more acidic push, but man it was big and wet like that. After that Kenya was gone I made a point to sample every new Kenya that came out of their roasters just as soon as I could get my paws on them, only to find myself reminiscing dreamily back that day like a Heroin junkie chasing that feeling they got with their first fix. It was just never the same after that, although there have been some great ones (Kenyas) in their own right. Then there came Auction Lot 1135. In a completely new and different way, the glory is back.

These short and round berries are as brilliantly bright as a crispy October cloudless Autumn day when brewed in the Press or the Melita filter. The mildly thin body gives way like the curtains of the theater, drawing back to feature the main performance which I had longed to witness. For days I sipped on it, trying to peg down that distinctive taste that eluded me so temptingly. Deliberately avoiding web pages where I knew it had been discussed and cupped, I tried to decipher the hints of this flavor that called to me so clearly, but remained only in my peripheral vision. There was something of Daniel Humphrie’s blood meal, something very full of iron rich mineral (volcanic soil?), and at the same time it played with sumptuous fruit. The image that kept coming to mind was, and please remember I live in the South, salted watermelon.

I also couldn’t stop getting an image of some kind of red meat. This is where I diverge from many drinkers of coffee. I like a coffee that tastes wild and crazy, different than the orthodox, flavored outside the box. I like the Indido Valley. I like a fist full of blueberry. I like the red meat and sweet salty melon of this Kenya. When I finally looked at the cupping notes of others, there it was; beef stock, steak, stew, and grapefruit.

This may not be for some. Tasting off the beaten path will simply indicate defects of some kind for many celebrated palates. But I applaud CCC for the willingness they show to keep roast levels low, flirting with line of underdone. Indeed, the first few cups I brewed of this coffee came out tasting like what I call the Green Olive of under extraction, even when brewed to the parameters that works so well with others. Not till I bumped up the grind to a finer level than I would normally use did this coffee open up like a cheap date who has just been offered a six pack of PBR (OK, not a pretty metaphor, but I think you get the picture). CCC walks that line, but like golf, it takes risk for reward.

Pick up a pound of this stuff, and if you find that it just doesn’t do the trick for you, return the unused portion to me.

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