Brian Beyke

Workshop Coffee - Mahembe, Rwanda

Brian Beyke

My experience with Workshop Coffee was a bit of a perfect storm.  I had been wanting to try this London roaster ever since I first caught glimpse of their sexy labeling.  A few Fridays back I decided to peek at their website and found a Rwanda that looked tantalizing.  I carted it and went to bed, waiting to here from a buddy if this brew is one we wanted to get in.  When I awoke I had an email from Workshop.  Apparently I was the first to use their new site (wasn’t going public until the following Monday) AND they recently added international shipping, so they offered me free shipping for my response to a few questions about the site experience.  I quickly responded, finished my order, and the rest is history.  We now bring you Mahembe, Rwanda from Workshop Coffee.  

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Details:

Region: Western Province

Country: Rwanda

Process: Washed

Variety: Traditional Bourbon

Producer: Justin Musabyimana

Altitude: 1,800m

Harvest: April - June, 2013

Arrival: November, 2013

Brew Method:

Kalita Wave | 40g © to 552g (w) | 4:00 end time | 204 degrees (preferred method)

The aroma flying up from the cup reminds me of strawberry short cake. 

Diving in to the cup I am immediately greeted by succulent and juicy red fruit sweetness with an underlying coat of chocolate that reminds you of chocolate cheesecake covered with dark, warm berries and raspberry drizzle.  Before you are able to finish the sip a tingly acidity meets that sweetness and carries the flavor on a silky path to the back of your throat.  

Light bodied with intense plump fruit notes and a mid-mouth tangy acidity and a caramel sweet finish.  

It’s pretty complex once it cools - notes of blackberry, raspberry, apple, strawberry, cherry are just some of the fruits noticed in a sea of citrus juices growing comfortably dense and still sits delicately with a soft finish. 

At its coolest moments in the cup it reminds me of mulled wine, as the mouthfeel starts to dry a little more.  

As mentioned in the beginning, I could definitely see this flavor profile as a dessert - a perfect after dinner coffee.

Intense, red fruit, dessert-like.  

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Brew Method:

Woodneck | 30g © to 420g (w) | 5:00 total time | 204 degrees 

Very big strawberry sweetness meet tart raspberry with a smaller underlying of chocolate than was present on the kalita. 

Actually, it may just be that it has more strawberry sweetness in this method.

Super juicy, super silky.  

Clean, refreshing, crisp acidity.

Slight blackberry notes jump in along with apple.

Creamy tasting as it cools, and still finishing with delicate grape sweetness and a good depth.

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Brew Method:

V60 no stir | 44g © to 592g (w) | 5:30 total time | 202 degrees

Initial flavors are tea-like in flavor (thinking black tea), but it isn’t weak.

Layers of chocolate still present - more of a chocolate mousse flavor and airy mouthfeel.

Very pleasing, very balanced.

Fresh crisp strawberry and hints of plums and citrus notes in the finish, along with less tart raspberry than in other methods that are both light and refreshing.

Still had a crisp and tangy acidity that seems to ride the waves of juicy grape and apple notes leading to a soft, clean, and deep finish.

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 Brew Method:

Chemex | 25g © to 366g (w) | 5:00 total time | 200 degrees (preferred method)

Lighter than the other methods, and very pleasing at that.

The presentation overall is slightly different yet still hits on the dessert tones similarly.

Chocolate cake with berries- fresh, crisp, slightly not-quite-ripe strawberry to be specific.  

As it cools there is an explosion into wide and delicate floral notes.  No kidding, there are elements to the coffee at this stage that remind me of several geisha offerings I had last year.

Cooling further you get a sweet and perfumed tea-like body in a silky, wide, and undeniably delicious cup.  

Sweet, floral, dessert-like.

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Brew Method:

Aeropress | 18g © to 270g (w) | 3:00 stir then plunge by 3:30 total time | 205 degrees 

Very light and pleasing, similarly to the chemex.  

Strawberry notes and chocolate.  There is a richness to the cup, but not rich chocolate notes as much as I assume indicative of the aeropress method.  

Floral notes already present in the cup.

Refreshingly juicy - still whipped and airy chocolate mousse with floral notes now engulfing.  Honey notes ride down the sides of the tongue as it goes down with flavors reminiscent of freshly squeezed lemon.  

It almost reminds me at times of strawberry lemonade.   

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This is a fantastic offering.

It presented itself similarly in nearly all the devices we put it in.  The subtle changes it may have had still kept close to the original profile we got and it was such a treat to enjoy.  It was hard to get into the later stages of the cup several times as it was just too good to keep around.  Even if I never got to the methods that really sang with floral notes this would have been one of my favorite coffees in recent memory, but that addition sent it over the edge.  The strawberry notes were presented differently than I’d ever experienced before.  Where I find big strawberry fruit flavors in Ethiopian coffees (among others), they have never tasted as crisp and fresh as in this coffee.

Its fruit flavors, its complexity, the sweetness and development through the cup… this is one of the best (and most unique) coffees I’ve ever had, and I was so impressed by how different this coffee tasted compared to anything else.

 Workshop, you have set the bar high for your coffees and I applaud you.  Here’s to trying more delicious offerings of yours in the future.  

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.