I recently found out that a local coffee shop (Weekend Coffee in Dallas) carries Seattle-based Victrola Coffee Roasters so I popped over to check them out. On the day of my visit, they had two Victrola coffees available to take home: an Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and this Kenya. Since I haven’t reviewed any Kenyan coffees yet, I decided to go that route.
First off: what is a peaberry? When coffee grows, the coffee beans usually grow in pairs inside the coffee “cherry.” Imagine two halves of a peanut, both with a rounded side and a flat side. That’s how coffee beans normally grow. However, about 5% of the time, instead of finding two coffee beans in the cherry, there is only one. This is a peaberry. It is typically rounder and a little smaller than a normal coffee bean. Peaberries and normal beans cannot be roasted together, since the difference in size and shape will cause each to roast differently (much like two differently sized steaks will cook at different rates). Fans claim that the flavor is more concentrated in a peaberry vs. normal beans, and because the peaberries must be hand-harvested to separate them from the normal beans, they can command a premium in price.
Peaberries on the left, regular coffee beans on the right.
First impressions: The whole beans smelled like raisins, but also had a whiff of seaweed to them. To me they smelled most like nori sheets that people use to make sushi. I love roasted seaweed, but in a coffee, I found this off-putting.
V60: This cup was a little gamey. It was sweet, but the dominant flavor was quite earthy and weird. I didn’t really taste the raisins that I smelled earlier.
AeroPress: Very thick and robust cup. The coffee smelled like mushrooms and steak. There is a bottle of wine that I have at home which is a rather funky Zinfandel, with notes of mushroom. This coffee reminded me of that. That Zinfandel pairs quite well with steak. Perhaps this coffee would be better paired with red meat? However, consuming this coffee without food first thing in the morning was pretty difficult for me.
Chemex: Brighter and cleaner flavor and texture. There was a little bit more raisin and less earth in this cup, but it was still pretty swampy tasting.
French press: Same flavor as in the AeroPress + more grit.
Summary: This coffee is like a really full-bodied, earthy, thick, funky Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. It definitely wasn’t lacking in personality! I will try other offerings from Victrola in the future – just not this one again.
From the roaster: Raisins, red currants, spice