Peet's Coffee & Tea


Sampling Burundi coffee from Kaldi’s at The Coffee Ethic

Over the past few days, I’ve heard from the guys at Kaldi’s Coffee headquarters in St. Louis (on Twitter as @Kaldis_Coffee) that they now have coffee from Burundi.  When you visit their Kaldi’s Coffee website, it’s simply called “Burundi” but at the store it’s tagged as “Burundi Kinyovu”.  Their description of the coffee states, “This little known East African coffee produces a nice plum like sweetness, citrus like acidity, and creamy body,” also noting, “This was also a special project our importer had been working on for a couple of years and it paid off. They have been working with two different washing stations to help the farmers improve their quality. This year the coffee has really stood out in the cup and in return the farmers have received a 20% increase in their earnings.”  Their varietal notes say that this coffee bean is grown in the Kayanza of  northwestern Burundi, south of the Rwandan border at 1880 meters, and the beans are fully washed and sun dried.  Sorry, the photo below is fuzzy, but I was trying to get a shot of the label and my Blackberry obviously doesn’t have a macro lens.

Label from the Burundi coffee jar at Kaldi's Coffee

Label from the Burundi coffee jar at Kaldi's Coffee

Through Twitter, Mike North (on Twitter as @MikeNorth), who I understand to be the head trainer and educator at Kaldi’s headquarters and the guy who posts on the Kaldi’s blog, called the Highlander Blogg, encouraged Tom Billionis at the Coffee Ethic (on Twitter personally as @tomBILLIONIS and professionally as @thecoffeeethic) and me to try out this new coffee.  This morning, I swung through the Springfield’s Kaldi’s and bought 1/2 pound of beans.  (The Burundi wasn’t on tap, but these days, Kaldi’s will let you put any of their beans in a French press so don’t be afraid to ask for someone not in the lineup that day.)  I then drove to The Coffee Ethic downtown, and we ground the beans and put them into a French press (the preferred method encouraged by Mike.)  I have a nice photo below of Tom and the French press — he’s smiling because I said that he looks like he’s singing “I’m A Little Teapot” by the way he tips his whole body when he pours — shot from my Blackberry Curve.

Tom Billionis pouring the Burundi from the French press at The Coffee Ethic.  Notice my new mini Zassenhaus hand grinder on the counter -- I just found that on eBay to use at the office.

Tom Billionis pouring the Burundi from the French press at The Coffee Ethic. Notice my new mini Zassenhaus hand grinder on the counter -- I just found that on eBay to use at the office.

I like the Burundi, especially in its hotter stages.  Before brewing, the grounds smelled to me like dark chocolate with a hint of orange.  Mallory, who works at the Coffee Ethic, was with it, too, and she made the dark chocolate call as well.  Drinking the cup after the French press brew, it had a rich pungent tone to it with a high note mixed in, which I think is a sign of a well-balanced coffee.  The Kaldi’s description of “plum” as the dark note makes sense to me after drinking the cup. From my experience, I like a coffee that’s not too high and not too low, but instead gives you a full mix of both.   I also noted the creaminess that the Kaldi’s description points out.  It has a medium viscosity that slides across your tongue, but not so much that it’s distracting, like a Sumatra or Papua New Guinea coffee can do sometimes.  The last thing I noticed was the aftertaste, which hung on my tongue on the drive to the office after leaving, and I realized that it was the acidity that was causing that taste to cling.

We’re going to try again tomorrow because we’re not quite sure how long we left the coffee in the French press.  I have to pick on Mallory because Tom got things started and then hit the button to get the timer running.  Sometime during the brew process, Mallory ended up turning off the timer, not realizing it was the timer for our French press.  We realized a few minutes in that the timer was no longer accurate, and chaos ensued as we all tried to mentally figure out how long the French press had been brewing.  Drinking the coffee, we all agreed it could have brewed a little longer for a slighter fuller flavor, so I left the beans there and we’re going to try again tomorrow.  Thanks, Mallory!