Barista Stefen Highlights Congo Muungano
Hello! My name is Stefen, thanks for joining.
This will be a monthly series where I'll discuss some of our specific coffee offerings, going in depth to their tasting notes, their origin stories, as well as sharing a few tidbits of information that I find fascinating, fun, or otherwise notable. I'll try not to babble, but I'm easily excitable, so no promises.
Before we dive in though, I'd like to highlight a few important things, things that I hope to reiterate throughout this series: All coffee comes from somewhere. All coffee was grown by someone. These are simple facts, but as soon as you start thinking deeply on them, the bottom drops out, and you realize how vast and full of stories the coffee world is. Some of these stories are triumphant, hopeful, but many are filled with struggle, deprivation, trauma. All of them are important stories, stories that deserve to be told. In the case of Congo Muungano, which I'll be covering today, and of Congolese coffee in general, it has been a story of loss and slow rejuvenation. Decades of civil war have led to an infrastructure that has just recently been able to provide a means for coffee farmers to get their coffee out of the country and into the international market. There is so much potential for this amazing coffee, and the best thing that we can do is support them by buying that coffee and being a part of that story too. If you want to learn more, check out this excellent article.
Coffee: Congo Muungano
Roast: This is one of our lightest roasts.
Grind: Medium-Fine on my trusty burr grinder. The grounds should be fine enough so that if you were to make a tiny mound in your palm, and then pinch it, the grounds would retain their shape.
Dose: 1 1/2 of those weird Aeropress spoons, which is about 3 tablespoons, which is also approximately 15 grams (Note to self: get a dang kitchen scale for home use).
Congo Muungano is a delicious coffee, but more so, it is an interesting coffee. It’s a coffee that I always recommend to someone who knows that they enjoy coffee, have experimented a little bit with different roast profiles and methods, but want to try something that really emphasizes how wide and wonderful the coffee world can be.
The nose of this coffee freshly brewed is like someone threw open a spice cabinet. Black pepper, oregano, thyme, it all comes wafting out. This is the first reason I point new coffee people to the Muungano. The aroma is perhaps one of our most complex, and can be very satisfying to parse through! If you want to really channel your inner coffee nerd, I very much suggest smelling it freshly ground too, and then comparing. Look for that buttery caramel that will eventually come out on the finish of your brewed cup.
On the palate, those spices still linger, but give way to something new. Whereas many coffees seem to lean towards a fruity sweetness (coffee is a fruit, after all!), or a chocolatey sweetness, the Muungano is sweet in a more earthy, vegetal way, like a cherry tomato or sweet potato (I don't throw around the word "savory" too much, but this coffee is exactly that). After that first sip, things get really crazy. Have you ever walked through a garden, just taking in all those beautiful smells, and some of them are so strong you can taste it? The fresh earth, everything vine-ripe and inviting? And maybe there's a field of wheat nearby, some wildflowers growing near a barn? Wait, is that a lemon tree? Wow. Maybe a horse trots out from somewhere? Was it even there before? And then you ride it, slowly, into the sunset?
This metaphor is losing me, let's dial it back.
Delicious coffee. Interesting. Full of unexpected flavors. Okay. Let's talk about the finish. That's where this coffee starts to return to more familiar territory. Buttery caramel, and I do mean buttery, is what I get as the dominant finish, with some milk chocolate. This would be welcome in any coffee, but for the Muungano it works especially well considering how complex the rest of the coffee is. All those things that ran through it, from the nose to the first sip to the finish, they are all just so incredibly balanced.
This is one of my favorite coffees, one that I enjoy returning to all year round. While it may not be for everyone, it is definitely an amazing example of what coffee is capable of. If you're a curious coffee lover, I can't recommend it enough.
Thanks for tuning in, can't wait to do this again!