When I think about how I would run a coffee shop/roastery I would like to think Tandem Coffee Roaster’s model would come to mind - designed to be open and transparent. Will and Kathleen Pratt have nestled their cafe and roastery in the East Bayside neightborhood of Portland, Maine - a space designed with the intent of making it feel like you are stepping into a home, a place where strangers quickly become friends.
With their coffees sold in 1/2lb bags (a big plus for me), I knew I had to give them a whirl. As much as I would have loved to try their Kemgin (a favorite coffee from last year) I decided try another Rwandan offering. Let’s explore Kigeyo, Rwanda from Tandem Coffee Roasters.
When we first laid eyes on this building in East Bayside, we knew immediately we had found the perfect location to set up shop. We find it very special that we can have our cafe and roastery all under one roof. The whole show happens here. We designed our roasting space to be open and transparent. As a customer, you can witness the sample roasting and cupping of new coffees; see the pallets of that coffee arrive weeks later; and finally drink that coffee yourself in our cafe. That which you cannot see – all that happens at origin until the coffee reaches our roastery – we’d happily discuss with you in our café or at one of our weekly public cuppings.
Roaster: Tandem Coffee Roasters
Origin: Rwanda, Rutsiro District
Producer: Various Small Producers // Kigeyo Washing Station
Process: Kenya Style Double Fermentation
Varieties: Bourbon, Mayaguez
Elevation: 1,900 - 2,100m
Kalita Wave | 45g © to 625g (w) | 4:20 total time | 202 degrees
Dry aroma is nutty, syrup-like sweet, and peanut butter toast
Nose heavily perfumed mostly like a bowl of cherries
Initial sips are smooth and clean. It is a bit spiced and has a taste like almond milk, with some fruity notes rising from the rear. More of a buttery body, with a tickling acidity near the rear of the mouth.
The aroma of the cup continues to grow sweeter, now with concord grape and floral notes.
Digging into the cup again there are unusually delicious, slightly tangy, and sparkling fruit notes, not overly sweet at first, but very intriguing. They are crisp, juicy, light, and almost pop in the mouth like pop rocks. Pear, cherries and cream, and light lemon notes dance on the tongue before refreshingly sweeping away.
As it cools more they stay sparkling but start to add a lingering sweetness and juiciness with baking spices, strands of chocolate, and honeydew pop in the finish with the long finish leaving the mouth as if just just taking a bite into freshly made rolls.
Have you ever watched blueberries bake in an oven? You can usually tell when your dish is done because the blueberries all of a sudden explode. That’s what the end of this cup does, but I nearly missed it if not for the extra I left in the carafe. An eruption of blackberry and blueberry notes give nearly a cotton candy sweetness yet followed after by incredibly tart and tangy tongue tickling madness. I’m also finding notes of passion fruit, guava, sun-dried tomato… it literally is madness.
Sparkling, tangy, juicy.
Able Kone | 44g © to 660g (w) | 4:10 total time | 205 degrees
Similar in review to the Kalita Wave
Begins with a clean fruity, winey, medium to full body - more full mouthfeel with a bright, prickly acidity. Reasonably wide but doesn’t lingering too long - cocoa powder underlining notes in the finish.
Prickly and tart fruit notes -blackberry, and cranberry present as it grows into a juicier finish.
Dried fruits come out of raisin and dried cranberry, grape, pear in a nicely sweet and still tangy cup.
Woodneck | 34g © to 476g (w) | 4:40 total time | 203 degrees (preferred method)
Begins viscous, and a little reserved. It has a bright acidity, but that too is pretty reserved right now.
Softer canned pear notes seem to appear, with a sweetness like fruit cocktail juice.
As I dig further the cup tastes like sweet cinnamon raisin bread, along with a more creamy body.
The cup rounds out nice and balanced, sweet and lightly spiced with almond nuttiness and cherry fruit notes harmoniously entangled. There are dances of red and purple fruits, not in a tingly way, but pictured like raindrops coming down the window while you sit inside a dimly lit room and soft music playing in the background.
It begins to grow juicier - grape notes and more sugary sweetness with slightly malty finish, but not too much.
It ends on floral and sweet grape tones - very sugary sweet with caramel strands supporting the floor of the coffee and a long finish reminiscent of buttery toast.
While it holds most of the cup more reserve than on the Kalita, this cup was delicious.
V60 no stir | 25g © to 350g (w) | 2:45 total time | 204 degrees
Starts off creamy and less sweet than some other methods. A little almondy, and fairly rich medium-full body. Fruit notes subdued initially, but slight cherry notes in there. More of a smokey chocolate flavor to the finish.
As the cup cools that refreshing juiciness arrives in the cup like in the other methods, but remains slightly tart and tingly. Cherry, apple, cranberry and blackberry fruit notes seem noticeable, Still with dark chocolate notes in the finish.
Even further the cup squeezes out a tart yet honey sweet tea-like body, with hints of sweet and tangy fruits alike.
I run into coffees from time to time that really benefit from taking your time, and Kigeyo, Rwanda is one of them. There is so much character to this cup that can be missed with a quick drink - luckily the middle of the cup in most of the methods is so flavorful, refreshing, and juicy that there’s never a “bad” spot to end on, but the best moments are yet to come. I did noticed in a few brews that the cup settled in without much change, but if there’s a potential to be surprised, why not seize it?
In some Ethiopian coffees I’ve had in the past, blackberry notes are usually a deterrent. I was glad to see that the supporting flavors encountered in this cup kept that element in check, and was never an issue like some natural processed coffees Ethiopians can be.
If you are in the Portland area, or shopping around for a coffee with a little less commitment on time than larger sized offerings, look no further than Tandem. A great offering.