Monday, October 22, 2007

HFF Quickie: Peet's Kenya Auction Lot

I'm not really a coffee person, but thanks to a couple of coffee-addicted housemates I've come to appreciate its stimulating effects. Coffee's also definitely gotten me through some long night in a way that tea or even energy drinks don't.

But for the same reason that I rarely drink cocktails in favor of beer and wine is the same reason I limit my daily coffee--instead of the reliably measured doses of alcohol and caffeine in beer and tea respectively I get the unpredictable hits from alcohol and coffee, also respectively. One cup of coffee and I'm still asleep, two and my heart's racing. One manhattan and I'm not even buzzed, two manhattans and I'm calling the maitre'd a pigfucker.

Plus I just think tea tastes better. It's a more interesting, contemplative experience. And I can always knock back a pint of Lipton's if I need to get wired.

But every now and then I'll stumble across a coffee that is really freakin' good. Peet's Kenya Auction Lot is the best I've had in my admittedly limited experience.

I brewed it in a French press, let the coffee sit for a couple minutes, pressed and poured. The cup had an almost espresso-like crema. The coffee is one of the mildest I've had from Peet's but with nice complexity, toasty and bright like light rye bread spread with a thin thin layer of orange marmalade.

And despite its lofty origins as Peet's' select lot from Kenya coffee auctions, the price is in line with most of their beans at $13.95 a pound.

Mild and eminently drinkable with respectable complexity.

Drink it today!

1 comment:

Zack said...

If the Kenyan you bought is on par with the "Ethiopian Supernatural" they featured a year back, then you picked a winner. I usually buy from Blue Bottle, but Peet's is my backup, and in general I've found that limited offerings from any seller are more interesting. When you're producing a nationally or even regionally distributed coffee, the only way to get consistency is to downplay the individuality of the bean (outside of the roaster's control) and focus on the roast itself. See: Starbucks. See also: Peet's, if to a lesser extent. Smaller batches can afford to let the bean shine through.

My recommendation is to stick to the Middle East/Africa coffees if you're not looking to be bored or disgusted. Those are the ones compared to fruit and wine and spices -- "orange marmalade" is a giveaway for Kenyan, and my favorite is Ethiopian from the Harar/Harrar region, which has a distinct blueberry taste.

I drink a press of coffee every morning, as much for the flavor as anything, and unsurprisingly I disagree that the experience of drinking tea is more interesting. Coffee doesn't keep as well as tea -- I actually can't think of a more volatile "dry" good, but forgive me if I don't exert myself here -- so it's something you have to buy regularly (coffee older than 10-14 days from roasting date is so FLAT), and by its nature every bag you buy's gonna be different. Like other crops, the flavor changes by place and by season, and nothing else on earth save wine expresses its place of birth so well as coffee. Plus, you might notice how much the flavor of even one cup changes as coffee cools.

So it's frustrating chasing that perfect sip if you let it get to you, but the joy of coffee is its brilliant but fading bloom.

As for the unpredictability of the caffeine relative to tea? Well, it's not medicine, it's liquid love; servings vary in their nature. Coffee is called a morning ritual for good reason.

And just between you and me, the maitre'd is kind of a pigfucker.