Murue Farmer's Cooperative Society
SL28 & SL34
Read our interview with Small Batch
|Tasting Notes||Butterscotch. Caramel apple. Grains of paradise.|
|Method||View the brew guide for Ngurueri|
On the windward slopes of the towering Mount Kenya—a stratovolcano that is the tallest mountain in the country and the second tallest in the African continent after Mount Kilimanjaro—a cooperative of smallholder members grow this exceptional coffee. These farmers are from Embu County, one of the most prime and fertile highlands of Kenya, and they pick and process these red-ripe coffee cherries at Ngurueri, where coffee then goes through a controlled practice of depulping, fermenting, washing, soaking, and drying. When the coffee reaches a 10-11% moisture level in parchment, it is rested, milled, and ready for roast.
Built in the 1970s, Ngurueri now has almost 1,000 smallholder farmers and is one of four washing stations, or factories, that form the Murue Farmer’s Cooperative Society. Today, this AA coffee from Ngurueri ranks amongst the best in Kenya and commands premium prices of 141 KES (Kenyan Shillings) per kilogram—more than double what farmers usually earn in the country. Ngurueri is a prime example of what well-grown and harvested coffee can achieve: in addition to exceptional taste, it can sustain livelihoods—as in Embu, which has become one of the most prosperous counties in Kenya.
Ngurueri's roaster, Small Batch Roasting Co., was founded seven years ago in North Melbourne, Australia by Andrew Kelly, after the opening of his award-winning café Auction Rooms. Initially, a commitment to quality control kept Small Batch’s roasts in-house and exclusive to Auction Rooms; they have since expanded, acquiring a celebrated reputation and a devoted following in the last few years—with hour-long lines for their coffee.
Since its inception, Small Batch has been defined by its emphasis on traceability and provenance; in the last year, Andrew has made half a dozen visits to Colombia alone. Small Batch dedicates a majority of its resources towards developing vertically integrated green-buying, based on building relationships directly with producers whenever possible. Andrew’s visits before, during, and after harvest allow him to analyze and improve producers’ methods, as well as influence details of production, resulting in a tailor-made product with higher quality and greater longevity. Each seasonally sourced coffee is at its raw prime, allowing Small Batch to simply focus on the roast.
Ngurueri is a shining example of how a truly clean coffee can taste. Upon first sip is a malic acidity rounded with a butterscotch sweetness – like biting into a crisp and succulent caramel apple. Scents of candied lemon peel and cracked grains of paradise then come through, before a soft and lingering aromatic finish on the palate, reminiscent of sencha tea.
The distinct layering of flavors and nuanced complexity are testament not only to Small Batch’s roasting, but also their significant sourcing efforts. Small Batch’s intimate relationship with farmers through every step of production fosters excellent growing practices, and Ngurueri’s clarity of taste showcases its fertile Mount Kenya terroir.
Ngurueri is highly soluble, having been roasted for maximum sweetness and depth, but with the aim of preserving its lighter aromatics. We chose the Kalita Wave as our preferred brew method to bring out as much of the sugars as possible while accentuating the coffee’s vibrant acidity.