Brian Beyke

Stone Creek Coffee - Kayanza Burundi Lab Series

Brian Beyke

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Stone Creek Coffee is one of those coffee shops that you should know of, regardless if you have prior to reading this or not.  They use swanky fonts, have eye catching bags, and an intriguing motto to “sip slowly.”  Owner Eric Resch isn’t new to this whole coffee thing with 20 years of operation and 10 cafes carrying the SCC name.  Over the last year SCC has been updating their roasting philosophy quite a bit, part of that was a re-branding of their coffee into different series: Classic, Seasonal, and Lab.  Today we are taking a look at the first of their two Lab Series offerings: Kayanza, Burundi. 

Before we dive into the Burundi, I wanted to share a bit more about Stone Creek as a whole.  My friend Ethan moved to Milwaukee and he put me on to Stone Creek in the first place.  Once I started digging through info on the company I couldn’t help but be intrigued by their beliefsphilosophy, and philanthropic practices throughout Metro Milwaukee. 

I had the chance to email back and forth a bit with Christian Ott, Director of Coffee and head roaster at Stone Creek, to enlighten me on a few elements regarding the company, roasting, and how upsetting it is that Twitter has a 15 character limit preventing them from using their full name.

With a lot of their roasts being Single Origin already, I was curious what the Lab Series provided that the Classic or Seasonal’s did not.  He responded:

The idea behind this line was to have a higher quality bean, a unique story to it, or perhaps a new profile on another coffee in our line…We created a category that I can do the experimental coffees without disrupting the “classic” customer base.

I was also asking where SCC planned to go in the future of the Lab Series:

In the future, I’m likely to either pick two very different origins (Burundi and Ecuador, for example) and go in wanting to highlight the unique characteristic of each coffee. I’m very excited about our next set – I was able to source two different microlots from a farm in Guatemala – same variety, same altitude, same processing – just different location on the farm – and noticeably different. It’s just really about finding coffees that can start a conversation – and giving everyone enough information to learn a little bit about each coffee.

I ended inquiring about his roasting practices, and time spent dialing in the roast levels of SCC’s offerings:

I’m a Q grader, so SCAA Q protocol is what I use for all my cuppings, regardless of where it fits in the line. I spend a lot of time on all the coffees – I end up putting more time into the lab series, but its because we’re rotating coffees often. As of this spring, we will be about 60-75% sourced via direct relationships with farms in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, and Rwanda. So the coffee in classic and seasonal series are often just as good in terms of green quality – they just receive a more accessible profile to appeal for the majority of our customers.  

It was really great to hear more about their roasts, especially when it comes to the Lab Series.  While it’s probably easily to read “these are roasted lighter than the others,” I think it’s best to understand these as more limited offerings, that are roasted more to the coffee explorer - for someone who wants to dig deeper into different varietals, washes, microlots, or even someone who reads reviews others write about coffee offerings.  It was clear to see that the Lab Series was put in place to be another level of conversation between us and the folks at Stone Creek beyond what had previously existed.

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Details:

Roaster: Stone Creek Coffee

Region: Burundi,Kayanza

Farm: Segec Washing Station

Process: Kenyan Double Fermentation, Dried on Raised Beds

Variety: Bourbon, Jackson, Miribzi

Altitude: 1800-1950m

Harvest Date: June-Aug 2013

Brew Method:

Woodneck | 30g © to 420g (w) | 3:50 total time | 201 degrees (preferred method)

Aromas of honey, hops, and wine.

A nice balance of wood tones, honey, and citrusy acidity meet you at the beginning of the cup.

Very balanced and easy to drink.  I can’t pinpoint the fruit just yet, but I am leaning toward melon because of the refreshing qualities to it.

Raisin, prune, grape, melon, and cherry all seem to bounce around - I think it is safest to say the fruit is quite complex.

It continues to grow sweeter with almost a cotton candy sweetness - reminiscent of those cotton candy grapes from Grapery.

There is an acidity to the cup that reminds me of lemonhead candies.

Develops juiciness and crispness but still candy sweet and silky with such a pleasing acidity in the finish - floral hints seem to appear around the finish as well.

As it cools more that honey coating is coming out a bit more down the tongue.  Soft but deep, it reminds me of how menthol feels.  Comforting tobacco hints are carried in the finish too with a cane sugar sweetness.

The citrus doesn’t get too much, the sweetness doesn’t go crazy, and the acidity doesn’t get sharper.

A balanced cup until the very end.  

Complex, juicy, crisp, sugar cane sweetness.  

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Brew Method:

Aeropress (Inverted) | 17g © to 120g (w) | 20g (w) dilute | 1:00 then plunge by 1:30 total time | 205 degrees 

Imagine this.  It’s October and the wind is brisk, but it feels warm when the sunbeams hit your skin.  You’ve traveled down the gravel road that leads to the local orchard/farm.  You jump out and kids are running around, bobbing for apples, and launching some into the lake with giant slingshots.  Tractors can be seen in the distance carrying hay bales with families sitting on them.  You walk through the back of the barn doors and you see baskets upon baskets of freshly picked apples.  You drink some cider, eat some cobbler, maybe even go back for a second helping of fried biscuits and spread on the apple butter.  As the sun sets you walk away from the barn and travel back down that gravel road with the family band slowly fading in the background.  That entire day - that’s what it’s like drinking this coffee.  

A tart acidity hits you up front but then opens up, scratch that, gushes out the juiciest apple notes I’ve ever tasted. 

Cranberry, raisin, white grape all join in celebrating and ushering in that which is so juicy, so sweet, so refreshing.

Honey sweetness still exists, almost like those tootsie caramel apple pop suckers, with a finish of autumn leaves in the end.

Fall.

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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 34g © to 453g (w) | 3:55 total time | 201 degrees

 Woody tones there up front along with autumn leaves.  A bright acidity jumps out from the cup, with an otherwise honey coating and sweetness.

As it cools, floral elements jump from the cup as well as cranberry, raisin, apple, cherry, and even melon notes.  It still has a pretty lingering acidity.

Grows deep and slightly drying – a little more lemon lime tea-like with candied red fruits lasting into the long finish along with a hint of tobacco.

 Delicate, juicy, and crisp.  Similar to a geisha offering, honestly.  

Rustic, floral, delicate, crisp.  

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Brew Method:

Iced Aeropress | 30g © to 210g (w) | Cut by 61g sparkling water and 71g ice | 1:00 split pulse pour with stirs then plunge by 1:30 total time | Served over ice | 208 degrees 

Initial sips are silky and fruitied.  Apple, plum, and grape notes emerge with a nice honey sweetness and floral characteristics.  Candy-like sweetness.

Really singing honey notes and starts to solidify to a more vanilla and maple taste even as it sits in the cup.  

As it cools it grows sweeter - like a Belgian waffle, airy and sweet with syrup and topped with fresh raspberries, strawberries, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  

Honeysuckle lies in the long finish every sip you take, just to it that much more enjoyable.

Silky, fruitied, honey sweetness, floral.  

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Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 40g © to 552g (w) | 4:00 total time | 201 degrees

Initial sips are nice, dark, and deep with seductively warm dripping honey or maple notes trickling down the tongue and throat.  A syrupy body but silky going down.

Very complex fruit notes throughout the cup starting with sweet, sparkling apple and grape but it doesn’t stop there - take your pick, really.  Honeydew melon, raisin, cranberry, and plum all seem to be somewhere sweetening the cup.  Beyond any juiciness you also meet the likes of blood orange, lime, lemon and passion fruit.  Slightly tart pops of raspberry remind me of a raspberry chocolate rum cake.

 As it cools it presents itself delicately and juicy with a salted caramel gelato sweetness and light lemon-lime finish. 

Honey, silky, complex, sweet.

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Brew Method:

Clever | 23g © to 350g (w) | 2:30 then drop | 205 degrees

Greeted differently than in other methods.  This one presents itself spice first, nutmeg and cardamom, right before crafting a voluptuous body with baked, spiced apple fruits in the finish.

This has more of a velvety mouthfeel, with refreshing and juicy qualities developing on the top of what seems like a warm chocolate syrup bottom.  Chocolate covered cherries, plum and whoa, I’m almost noticing kiwi in there as well.  All met with baking spices and a developing lemon-tea finish.

Cooling further it becomes crisp, juicy, and deliciously sweet with red grapes and apple notes, slightly tart berries, and whiffs of floral tones in an otherwise warm, spiced, and slightly malty end.

Spice, voluptuous, juicy.

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It should come as no surprise that I loved this coffee.  The more I am learning about coffee and my own palate, I am learning that regions of Africa are really enjoyable for me.  I find a lot of complexity to the flavor, and a nice change from the beginning to end of the cup.  This Burundi was no exception.

This coffee was easy to engage with as soon as I began drinking, and no matter the temperature I began drinking.  I could drink it down fast or I could sip slowly, but the cup would always have elements to impress.  The fruit notes were warm and melded with the body, and produced an enjoyable cup no matter the preparation.  

There isn’t much more time on this coffee, so if you are interested - buy quickly, and sip slowly.   

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.