Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stumptown Rwanda Kanzu: Plunger

I have in my possession, thanks to Chris from Contains Caffeine, a bag of Rwanda Kanzu from Stumptown. They are based in Portland, Oregon. I am in Melbourne. Some twenty-something hours of travel away. So it's miraculous that these beans found their way here at all. But even more miraculously, I've actually been to Stumptown. By accident. I was in Portland some time in February 2007, freezing my ass off as I remember, and asked somebody if there was any good coffee around. I wasn't yet hip to the fact that the excellent coffee of Vancouver and Seattle has also slid its way south at least as far as Portland. So Stumptown was recommended, and it turned out it was only about a block away. This was about a year before I started the coffee blog, but my habit of taking photos of coffee was well and truly in action. Here's what I found:

Nice. I remembered the name. So here we are two-and-a-half years later, and I've got some Stumptown beans. I've relatively recently become hip to (I promise not to use the phrase "hip to" ever again) espresso not being the best place to experience single origin beans. So I dusted off the plunger. This is the first time I've used it for coffee purposes since...oh...probably 2002. I couldn't find any information about the beans on Stumptown's website (although Drinks With Nathan has a very detailed write-up) but they did have some incredibly detailed and useful brewing tips for a number of methods, including press pot a.k.a. french press a.k.a. plunger.

Press pot? French press? Plunger? I can't decide which one sounds more like a sexual position.

Anyhow, I wasn't quite sure about the grind (how coarse is "coarse", anyway?) but everything else went ahead okay, after giving the plunger a this-hasn't-been-used-for-years wash.

Magic. I had one of those magic-coffee-discovery moments. After pouring into the mug, I realised it was still a bit too hot to be able to taste it, so I set to cleaning up the plunger. I noticed the aroma coming from the grounds. I put my nose in a bit further.
"Oh my god!"
It smelled more like the massage oil at a really lavish day spa than a cup of coffee. Good Lord. You know what I mean. Spicy, citrusy, luxurious. Hail to the bean. This is going to be fun to investigate in other brewers. The beans were roasted about six weeks ago, but there's still some life in them yet. As Ray Charles once told the Blues Brothers:
"I don't think there's anything wrong with the action on this keyboard."

Hilariously, I had to transfer this cup to a takeaway cup to walk to the nearest tram stop to meet the guy who was delivering my new laptop. By tram. Amazing. Couriering 2.0.


  1. As an American expat from the Pacific NW living in Melbourne, I'm very interested in how these beans made it in the country. I had assumed that coffee beans would be on the agriculture no no list when flying back. I was looking at the Contains Caffeine website and it looks like a publication, not an importer. My first assumption had been that there are methods if you're an importer to bring in beans. But perhaps I've misunderstood what they do?


  2. The importing thing shouldn't be too much of a problem. It might get opened at customs, but they'll likely just be checking it's actually coffee, and not cocaine with some coffee around it like in Beverly Hills Cop.
    I think they're more worried about green (raw) coffee. If it's been roasted, it should be okay. See if Stumptown will deliver to here.

    Contains Caffeine is a publication. I'm not sure how he got his hands on that coffee, will try to find out.