This peaberry separation from the Riakiberu washing station is a fun and expressive selection. In the cup we find a lively crisp acidity, a more delicate mouthfeel, and raspberry and hibiscus throughout.
SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian
Hand picked at peak ripeness. Floated to further remove defects and depulped on the day of harvest. Dry fermented for 12-23 hours. Soaked in fresh water for an additional 20 hours. Dried on raised beds for 20 days.
A coffee cherry normally has two seeds resting face to face within the fruit. When only a single seed is produced, it is referred to as a peaberry (“PB”). Normally these don't get separated out, however, in Kenya it is routine practice to separate out coffees based on size. Hence the AA, AB and PB labels on Kenyan coffees; AA are the largest seeds, AB are smaller seeds, and PB are the single or peaberry seeds. We normally go to Kenya to taste through all the cooperatives’ coffees each season, and make our selections based on the best coffees we can find. This year proved to be rather difficult because we were unable to travel. Still, thanks to the logistical proficiency of the exporters in Kenya, we were still able to sample some very very good offerings. We do plan to visit next year, and look forward to digging deeper into this area and co-op.
“SL” is in reference to single tree selections made by Scott Agricultural Laboratories in 1935-1939. SL34 has a Typica-like genetic background selected from a single tree on the Loresho Estate in Kabete, Kenya. SL28 is of the Bourbon genetic group, and was selected for its drought resistance as well as its extremely high cup quality. SL28 is one of the most well-known and well-regarded varieties in Africa. It has consequently spread from Kenya to other parts of Africa as well as Central and South America. Both varieties are non-hybrid, and very susceptible to disease.
Ruiru 11 is a Catimor hybrid that owes its existence to a coffee berry disease epidemic in 1968 that lead to the loss of 50% of Kenya’s production. The crisis sparked action. In the 1970s, the coffee research station at Ruiru—which gives Ruiru 11 its name—began an intensive breeding program of varieties that are immune to coffee berry disease, ultimately leading to the release of Ruiru 11 in 1985.
Batian is resistant to both leaf rust and coffee berry disease. It was created via single-tree selections from fifth filial (F5) generations from the male parent of some Ruiru 11 progenies. Batian is a composite variety, mixing three different pure line varieties. The varieties involved in the original crosses are: SL28, SL34, Rume Sudan, N39, K7, SL4 and the Timor Hybrid.
The cost of getting a coffee from cherry to beverage varies enormously depending on its place of origin and the location of its consumption. The inclusion of price transparency is a starting point to inform broader conversation around the true costs of production and the sustainability of specialty coffee as a whole.