out of africa

Before I get into how I found out I was  making coffee the wrong way, I want to briefly mention two recent epiphanies.

The first happened last weekend at my local java haunt, Beachside Coffee Bar.  I noticed they were pouring an intriguing Uganda Bugisu. In all my years of coffee drinking I can safely say I’ve never had a Ugandan coffee, ever.  Not only was it never presented to me (I don’t think), but I’ve never really given it any thought that this country that borders  one of the greatest coffee bean growing countries in Africa – Kenya, could even produce a decent product.  Coffee, unfortunately, isn’t the first thought that comes to mind when one hears the word, “Uganda,”  yet coffee makes up 95% of all Ugandan export. A country slowly bouncing back from the Amin regime but still  infamously known for its extreme poverty, corruption and civil wars, having a Uganda coffee on the menu was compelling.  So, as I sipped the steaming brew I realized I was not only holding just a cup of coffee but in that cup was a whole lotta hope.  And that’s a very good thing.

On a small but interestingly geeky side note, the Bugisu bean is processed in Mbale, just west of Mount Elgon where the beans are grown.  And alongside of  Mbale, is a national park called Uhuru.  Uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili, is what inspired Gene Roddenberry to name the USS Enterprise’s chief communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura.

My second epiphany, was actually a two-parter.

When I received my shipment of Kenya Nyeri, I held a fistful of the cool beans in my hand and realized I was actually holding a piece of Africa.  The oddly shaped half-orbs the color of cooked asparagus looked  innocuous enough, but there was just something about holding those little buggers that were hand-picked, processed and shipped from almost 10,000 miles away that seemed arcane and mystical.  I realized that I can not screw up the roast of these beans that so many had worked so hard on making it possible for me to have a delicious beverage in the morning.

I roasted to  Full City + and anxiously waited the requisite 48 hours for the beans to rest. Well the cup, I gotta say, was as perfect a cup of coffee I had ever made. I was amazed but dumbfounded that I could brew such a drink.  It was fragrant, clean, sweet, smooth, intense.  My first thought was, “So this is what Africa tastes like.”  And I really couldn’t imagine it tasting any other way.   My second thought – I felt like a pilgrim and this coffee was my turkey.  I hope the Kenyans know how grateful I am.

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