Don Cheadle not included

Using every opportunity to expand my coffee-imbibing horizons, for the last few weeks I’ve been drinking Starbucks’ new seasonal offering from Rwanda.

I didn’t even know they grew coffee in Rwanda.

I’m a fan of other coffees from eastern Africa, so I was surprised to find that Rwanda isn’t a close cousin in flavor profile. Where Kenya and Ethiopia Sidamo — two of my favorites — are characterized by a tart, tangy brightness that I find refreshing, Rwanda more resembles the herbal, floral quality of many Asian varietals. It’s a darker, earthier flavor than one gets from its neighbors to the north.

That’s not to say that Rwanda completely lacks the citrus-like notes of many African coffees. There’s certainly an undercurrent of something akin to — hang on while I take another sip — pink grapefruit here. Starbucks calls the flavor “sweet orange,” but to my palate, it’s more acrid and less rounded than that description suggests. The grassy, herbal tones are much more prominent.

Rwanda certainly will appeal to aficionados of both African and Asian varietals, perhaps the latter more than the former. Its profile is more complex than the north African coffees of which I’m so fond — whether that’s a positive or a negative is up to the taster — but what it lacks in directness it makes up in good will. It’s heartwarming to think that at least a few of the farmers in this history-plagued region might be finding a place for themselves in the world economy.

Uncle Swan gives Starbucks Rwanda three tailfeathers out of a possible five. Try a pound while it’s still in stock this summer.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Caffeine Dreams

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