Gatugi is one of several coffees we picked up from Othaya Farmer's Cooperative Society (FCS), an FCS that includes an impressive amount of wet mills, 18 in all, dating back to the late 1950s. Gatugi Factory sits at just under 1900 meters above sea level, right along the Ichamama River, which is fed from the Karima forest above. "Factories" are essentially small washing stations aligned with a particular "society" in Kenya, what we would call a "cooperative". We return to the societies who seem to regularly produce some of the best Kenya coffees, and each year we come across societies that are new to us as well. Being one of the older Kenya FCS, we are well aware of the quality coming out of Othaya, and have had the good fortune to buy a few stellar lots the past two years. It was purchased direct, not through the Kenya auction system, so we could avoid the risk of losing it. To do this we pay a price that is higher than what the top auction bid might be, but it means we get the exact lot we want. This is the peaberry outturn, which makes up about 5% of the yield. Peaberries are often thought to produce a wilder cup than their flat bean counterparts. I'm not sure this is always the case, but we did find this particular outturn to have fruit punch like appeal.
Our light roasts of Gatugi showed a scent of dark berry punch laced with caramel that carried through from fragrance to brewed coffee. The aroma is heady with complex layers of fruit and pungent sugars, a slight sharpness, like when you burn sugar in a pan. Breaking through the crust of City+ and Full CIty roasts lets off deep berry tones, similar to blueberries cooked in pancakes, and with maple syrup sweetness. Fruited flavors are up front in the cup too, and in City roasts, bubble up in the form of dark fruit jams, blackberry juice, and peach-infused spritzer notes. Tea notes flourish at this lighter roast level and the finish too reminds me of old fashioned Lipton black tea. This is where the acidity is brightest, and while not harnessing the intensity of some of our other Kenyas, a grape-like brightness does well to prop up complex fruit and sugar top notes. Full City roasts pull out more of the blackberry juice flavor, rounding out the tart edge found in lighter roasts, and adding in a healthy dose of roasted cacao nib. It's worth noting that there are some flat beans in this sort (non-peaberry beans), but probably less than 5%. The coffee is screened for size, so the only real difference here is they aren't round and potentially of slightly lower density. But overall, this coffee handles very well in the roaster, even our lightest roast (City) showing a nice uniform of color.