Intelligentsia Coffee

On Chemex: Burundi Karyenda by Steve Willingham

We're brewing a really savory coffee on the Chemex bar this afternoon: Burundi Karyenda from Intelligentsia Coffee.

Karyenda is the name Intelligentsia gave to this coffee as a reference to a sacred ceremonial drum used at the beginning of each agricultural season. This coffee comes to us from a washing station called Yandaro in the Kayanza region of Burundi. Yandaro is a mid-sized washing station that processes coffee for hundreds of farmers. Their commitment to quality is of the highest caliber. The coffee is sorted multiple times to ensure that you're getting the best possible cup.

Yandaro also commits to assisting the 3,500 farmers in the nearby communities, spreading best practices, and raising the bar for every harvest by investing in agronomy engineers.

Geoff Watts, the vice-president and green coffee buyer for Intelligentsia describes Burundi as "one of the most underrated coffee origins in the world and a rising star on the African continent."

Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee

Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee

This coffee is only here for a short time, so swing by and check it out.

Today only! Zambia: Mubuyu Farms by Steve Willingham

Today we'll be featuring a coffee origin country on our Chemex bar that doesn't get a lot of love most of the time: Zambia.

Zambia is the southern neighbor of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. While Zambia is in a coffee-friendly part of the world, they have actually had some rough conditions lately for coffee. The country is in a drought. Their severe water shortage is causing strain, not only on agriculture, but on hydroelectric power and even drinking water in some places.

That, combined with low coffee prices, has caused many farms to just up and quit. The Lublinkhof family decided a few years ago to stick it out on their farm, Mubuyu Estate. Not only are they continuing to grow coffee, but they're competing in the specialty game. This requires a lot of work, raising trees for years before harvesting, carefully picking only the ripest cherries, and processing the coffee in just the right way. It's high risk in Zambia, but the reward for growing specialty grade coffees can be a huge surge in price to the right buyer. Their investment and commitment have really paid off.

The Lublinkhof Family. (Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia)

The Lublinkhof Family. (Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia)

Mubuyu Estate sold almost all their coffee to Intelligentsia Coffee out of Chicago. This has given them a chance to pay off the debt they accumulated while trying to save their farm and allowed them to look toward the future. We're excited to have it on Chemex all day today. We're tasting a little lemon, raisins, and a whole lot of chocolate. We're even more excited to see what the future holds for Zambian coffee.

Finca Santuario - Red Bourbon and Geisha by Steve Willingham

We're stoked about two special coffees we're going to have on bar this Saturday. In past years, I've been a big fan of the coffees I've had from Camilo Marizalde's Finca Santuario in Cauca, Colombia. This year, Intelligentsia Coffee has two varieties from that farm, Red Bourbon and Geisha, and we are super excited to bring them to Oklahoma City.

Finca Santuario. Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee.

Finca Santuario. Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee.

Just to be clear, when we talk about varieties, we're talking about the sub-species of the plant coffea arabica. The variety a farm chooses to plant has an impact on the taste, yield, and disease tolerance their trees will have. Red Bourbon is a favorite in the coffee world because it is a robust plant, with a really high yield, and it can produce a delicious, balanced coffee with great body and sweetness.  

Geisha, however, is much harder to grow, so you won't see it around as often. Geisha is sort of a high risk-high reward variety. It gained popularity back in 2004 when a Geisha yielded a high price at the Best of Panama auction due to just absolutely crazy flavors, intense floral aroma, and tropical fruit acidity. Since then, demand has increased greatly. Farms have tried to meet the demand, but it doesn't always work out. Starting a new plantation of trees can be costly and takes years to produce enough fruit for harvesting, and since Geisha needs a very particular climate, there's no guarantee the plants will thrive in the conditions of the farm. While it comes at great cost and risk to the farmer to grow, the green coffee has been known to sell at upwards of $100 per pound in certain auctions because the flavors are spectacular.

Geisha at Finca Santuario. Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee.

Geisha at Finca Santuario. Photo courtesy of Intelligentsia Coffee.

Finca Santuario first planted Geisha trees eight years ago and have watched closely as they've improved the cup quality. Tomorrow, we're going to see exactly what difference that makes. Try a cup of Red Bourbon for $4 and Geisha for $8. The Red Bourbon is also available in 12 ounce bags for $20.75.

In the Red Bourbon, look for papaya, cherry, and toffee; in the Geisha, look for lots of floral notes, peach, plum, and maple syrup.