Brian Beyke

Stone Creek Coffee - Gakenke, Rwanda

Brian Beyke

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I recently had the privilege and delight of reviewing Stone Creek Coffee’s former Lab Series offerings (of which they now have two new ones, but I’ll digress).

Today we are looking at one of their Seasonal offerings and, if nothing else, demonstrate that just because it is labeled as a “this” series or a “that” series, it doesn’t me it will or will not be a good cup of coffee.  When previously messaging with roaster of SCC Christian Ott about the Burundi Lab series, he mentioned I would like this Rwanda.  Let’s get to the notes and see if he was right.

Details:

Roaster: Stone Creek Coffee

Region: Gakenke, Rwanda

Farm: Dukunde Kawa Cooperative

Process: Fully washed, patio dried.

Variety: Red Bourbon

Altitude: 1,800 - 2,200m

Harvest Date: 8/1/2013

Brew Method:

Bonmac | 34g © to 476g (w) | 4:50 total time | 202 degrees (preferred method)

The aromas front dry grounds take me to the circus. 
Sweet smells of warm cotton candy and kettle corn meet with the boxes of salted peanuts. 
Aroma post brew smells like tea.  My friend Claudel (who is from Rwanda) says it smells like the tea he drank back home. 
Initial sips are incredibly sweet, then flow to the back of the mouth with, first, a mixture of spices then, second, a nutty long finish like I are a bag if peanuts. 
Peach, plum, currant, raisin, a syrupy body but a little on the lighter side (thickness wise). Thinking like knock off syrup. 
There’s a mandarin orange acidity that hits on the roof of the mouth. It’s actually incredibly bright when you first encounter it. 
As it cools it grows creamier, silky almost.  Currant and slightly tart citrus notes swim in the background,  while the foreground is just creamy, sweet, yet still finishing a little dry with a nutty and spiced finish. 
As I continue to sip, the cup actually balances out quit nicely. No one element takes control now that the acidity has tamed. 
Getting toward the end, the cup becomes softer with wide and deep dustings of flavor. Floral qualities seem to join the cup in a blood orange body kissed with honey, peaches, and a short glass of iced tea on the side. 
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Brew Method:

Woodneck | 34g © to 476g (w) | 4:30 total time | 203 degrees

More fruity than the Bonmac. Richer and more full body, a little more syrupy but it has juicy cherry qualities that stick out more than that. Less spiced and nutty finish than previously.  Very Delicious. Still has that citrusy/mandarin acidity but atleast in the first few sips is pretty restricted.  A lot more clarity to the cup, sending some nice sugary sweetness, even hints of raspberry and cranberry growing into some spiced apple finishes. 
Sweeter syrupy notes drip out of the cup as it cools, along with strong cherry and apple sweetness, with dried fruits to boot. The hints of nuts comes into the cup, with the finish like the spiced walnuts my wife’s grandmother makes. 
Cooling further it doesn’t sway much, but stays syrupy/creamy and oh, so sweet. Cherry, apple, honey, hints of nuts in the finish but really rounded and easy to drink. 
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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 34g © to 453g (w) | 3:25 total time | 203 degrees

Equally spicy as it is syrupy, which is a little more pronounced than the equally fruity and nutty notes. 

All equlibrious principles gravitate around the citrusy center.  
Not as sweet as previous takes.  The acidity is strong, yet slightly more tame than other methods, and the red currant seems to be the main detectant among dried fruits and juicy apple and notes right in the center of your sips, fully forming then gliding to the back of a spiced and slightly herbal, toasted but finish. 
Sweetness starts to develop more, and in a way that makes me think it was more masked by the spicy finish than not present as I initially though. Creamy cherry notes start to unveil, still sticking to a round center and nutty finish.  Cooling further you all but lose the nuttiness and have a mellow, syrupy, lightly fruited, sweet cup to jam on. Good any time of the day. 
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Brew Method:

Clever | 34g © to 490g (w) | 4:00 then drop | 205 degrees

Contrary to what I would have thought, the sweetness is what stands out in this method. Really full juicy sweetness comes up front to greet you then floats to the back with a spicy notes to an other wise combination spread of peanut butter and Nutella.  There’s a nice and decently weighted creamy body, with a comforting and easy going citrusy acidity gliding across the roof of the mouth adding a brightness to the cup like the warmth of the morning sun. 
The initial sips have great clarity to the juiciness. Chocolate dipped cherries, spiced plum, apple. The finish starts to grow darker it seems, more spice and cocoa notes come out but at the same time growing less intense. Wintergreen even seems to be present in the finish. 
As it cools it balances out - softly sweet fruits with a light Werther’s candy middle, hints of lemon and orange in the finish. 
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Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 40g © to 552g (w) | 3:50 total time | 203 degrees

Possibly the most balanced method of them all. Nothing really stands out more than the rest, but I can detect sweetness mashed with spice and a nutty finish. Medium bodied, not as weighted as other methods, and not a discernible body yet. Smooth, mildly striking acidity rear mouth.
As it cools it becomes slightly more juicy with plum, cherry and grilled peach - still with that spicy nutty finish.  Body is trying to solidify more and is close to syrupy but still a little too clear for that.  Right now it sits in sort of a peach/apple tea flavor, and the acidity is detected in finish that sort of hits the rear of the mouth like ‘splat!’
Coming back to the cup it gets a little more citrus forward rather than stone fruit forward, but still has those hints mixed in. Grows softer and more delicate but still grows wider in the mouth.  Still juicy with those spicy and nutty finishes. Really pleasing ending. 
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Christian was right - I thoroughly enjoyed this coffee.  Most of the makes came off really sweet on the front end, while having a nice backbone of spice and nutty tones that kept it in balance for drinking any time of the day.  All the flavors encountered play together really well, especially transitioning from one section of the cup to another.  This is a great cup that I could see making for just about any type of coffee drinker and they could enjoy it.  If the cup is slightly off balance initially, it usually just takes a bit of cooling down to be right in “the zone”.  Another stellar Stone Creek offering.

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.