Brian Beyke

Ritual Coffee Roasters - Cotecaga Rwanda - Craft Coffee - April 2014

Brian Beyke

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Ritual Coffee Roasters is, yet again, another roaster I’ve been meaning to grab some coffee from and just hadn’t gotten to it yet.  Fortunately, the mind readers at Craft Coffee supply me with exactly what I want to drink - or so it seems.  Opening this month’s Craft I didn’t expect to find three individual coffees that would have impressed me as much as they did, or cause me to rethink previous perceptions as much as they did, but I digress - a little more about Ritual.

Ritual has been a pioneer in this delicious shift in coffee consciousness since they opened their doors on Valencia Street in 2005 and started what some call a coffee revolution in San Francisco. Their goal then—and their goal now—was to craft the very best cup of coffee available anywhere. Period.  Today, we’ll take a look at their Cotecaga, Rwanda.  

We’ve learned a lot over the years, but the care and attention we lavish on our process is unchanged, including tasting every coffee several times before it goes out to our coffee bars and into your cup.  

We don’t do all of this to make coffee more complicated. We do it because pretty much everybody who works here has had a moment where a really, really good cup of coffee changed their lives. And we want to do every single thing we can to create that kind of experience for you, or at the very least, give you a really, really good cup of coffee that makes you feel like your day just took a turn for the better.

We are endlessly enchanted by the coffees we discover and continually delighted by the experience of sharing them with our customers. And just like with any passionate affair, we find ourselves more in love with coffee today than we were when we started. We can’t imagine doing business any other way. - Ritual

 

This coffee, from the Cotecaga washing station in the Nyamasheke District, represents Ritual’s first direct sourcing efforts from Rwanda.  As a land-locked nation in central east Africa, Rwanda has long fought to fulfill a very promising potential with regard to their coffee production. Despite excellent varieties of coffee and neatly ideal growing conditions, Rwanda has struggled to build the needed infrastructure and quality standards to deliver on that potential. Over the past few years, different projects throughout the country have finally started to create opportunities for these coffees, and their producers, to flourish.  Cotecaga is one of several excellent washing stations in the mountains above Lake Kivu in the very west of the country.

Details:

Roaster: Ritual Coffee Roasters

Producer: Cotecaga Washing Station

Origin: Nyamasheke, Rwanda

Varietal: Bourbon

Elevation: 1,500 - 1,900 mas

Process: Washed



Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 14g © to 227g (w) | 2:15 total time | 197 degrees 1.45 TDS | 21.76% Ext. (preferred method)

Very bright and sparkly highs - lime juice and crisp berries coated with sugar.  Medium bodied right now, and an orange-like acidity.  Silky and juicy, with insatiable syrupy sweetness.

As the cup opens up (now around 120 degrees) floral notes seem to come out more - really pleasing, still with tingly pear, raspberry or strawberry notes in the cup. Sweetness sort of reminds me of a cola in the finish (Sprecher’s Puma Cola specifically here, but no big deal).  Really enjoyable.

It grows softer and sits on those pleasing floral notes, whiffs of chocolate mousse in the finish, and a less intense but still persistent orange shifting to lime-like acidity.  

 

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Brew Method:

Gino Dripper | 36g © to 555g (w) | 3:45 total time | 199 degrees 1.44 TDS | 20.42% Ext.

Nice sugary sweetness meets very citrus-fronted and sparkling tangerine or lemon-lime acidity.   Softly syrupy body that seems to suck up sweetness like a sponge.  

Floral notes seem to be there but less noticeable than previous make.  Honey sweet body with tingly pomegranate, currant, and raspberry notes and still finding cola-esque finish and cocoa as well.

As it cools it really becomes softly sweet and a bit tea-like with silky floral notes wafting through the cup.

 

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Brew Method:

Woodneck | 30g © to 500g (w) | 4:45 total time | 200 degrees 1.51 TDS | 23.43% Ext.

Not ground for Woodneck, but ran in Woodneck.  Numbers SUPER high, but it wasn’t bitter like the Ext. shows it should be.  It was strong though.    

Overly juicy.

Crisp, crisp, sweet, juicy raspberry, kiwi, pear, pomegranate, and currant notes hit me, surrounded, swimming, coated and dripping with sugar with lime notes penetrating through it all like a dagger.  I can tell it is a bit strong, but it also lets me clearly find these notes.  

Tangy highs, juicy and syrupy mids, and like the other methods finding that cocoa finish.

Floral notes arrive the more it cools, sweetly syrupy, flowing with flavor that nearly flies out of the mouth.  Slightly tart each sip, now tea-like notes too appear in the finish along with hints of plum, peach, huckleberry, blackberry, and cinnamon rolls in the finish.  Really interestingly complex and voluptuous ending of the cup. Dynamic for sure.

 

Crisp, dynamic, sweet, cola.  

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I’ve had several Rwandan coffees over the past few months, and they’ve all brought a little something new in terms of presentation of cup to the table, but yet all carry similarities too.  This offering from Ritual seemed like the culmination of all of those offerings combined.  It was voluptuous and complex, dessert-like and tangy, crisp and syrupy.  One of the more sweet coffees I’ve had lately, yet also was quite comfortable to drink.  Drinking this offering was not only outstanding with each and every sip, but at different moments of the cup would take me back to the various other Rwandan offerings I’ve had.  However,  this cup was not without it’s own trait.  There was this fun cola-esque quality to the finish that, while I had experienced with a Kuma El Salvador before, I don’t think I’d found in another coffee since.  

I was really wanting to try a coffee from Ritual and never made the plunge, but I’m glad to have finally tried them in this month’s Craft and glad that this was the offering selected.  Another awesome Rwandan coffee, slowly becoming one of my favorite regions to drink from.  

 

Co-host of the I Brew My Own Coffee Podcast and always has all the chocolate. I also love to play board games. Yea, let's go do that right now.