Kenya Kamwangi and Coffee Varieties / by Michael Power

This week at Clarity coffee we will be featuring multiple coffees roasted out of two different locations! 

First, from Heart Coffee in Portland Oregon we have the Guatemalan, El Guatalon and the Ethiopian, Nano Challa. Both of these excellent coffees are fully washed in their processing. 

Secondly, from Tweed Coffee in Dallas Texas the El Durrembe from El Salvador and the Kamwangi AA from Kenya. 

We will put the spotlight on the Kamwangi for a second and talk about this interesting coffee. Let's back up just a bit and do a quick overview of how coffee is grown, starting with a a thirty thousand foot view.

Coffee beans are grown in cherries produced by coffee trees. Like all fruit, there are different varieties and even species of plants used to grow fruit and coffee is no exception. Coffee species can generally be broken down into Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is an entirely different plant species that is not commonly used in specialty coffee. When talking about specialty coffee, we almost exclusively assume all coffees will be grown from the plant species Arabica. Diving further into Arabica, there are a vast number of different varieties of cherries (bluntly categorized into natural mutations or man made.) A majority of these varieties are regionally specific for certain agricultural needs and where they might thrive (altitude, plant disease, access to water, etc.) In Kenya, respectively, the varieties SL-28 and SL-34 are most common, both of which make up the Kamwangi. What is uncommon (but is quickly becoming more common) is the third variety that makes up this coffee, Ruiru 11. This is what the focus will be on, so If I have peaked your curiosity, stay with me while I get even nerdier.

Ruiru is the scientific culmination of SL-28, other Arabica varieties, and a Robusta variety. What Robusta lacks is what we call "cup quality". Basically it just does not taste that good. However, Robusta is a much easier coffee plant to grow. Bringing this all back together and why this is a good thing for Kenya, SL-28, prized for it's incredible "cup quality", is met with a coffee species that is highly defect and disease resistant! Over the last few years, Kenyan coffee has seen harsh agricultural seasons because of their susceptibility to plant disease and leaf rust. These improved agricultural practices allow Kenya not only to grow a more disease resistant coffee but a lot more of it.

For more information on this coffee (or any coffee) stop by the shop, sit at the bar, and ask any one of our baristas questions! While we love making coffee, we also love talking coffee! As always, these coffees will all be available on the retail shelf!