Tonx’s Kenya Karinga in the Chemex

Mmmm…pie…

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Tonx coffee’s Kenya Karinga, out of the Chemex, wants to be a piece of blackberry pie, with all it’s constituent parts—butter, sugar, flour, etc.—making a showing, married to a rich chewy molassesy ginger snap cookie, with a strawberry afterwards (I don’t know, maybe you found it in the fruit bowl or something).

And it does a damn fine job of it.

It also wanted me to grind it finer than I usually do for the coffees I have in my favorite 60s era blown-glass coffee maker. I mistakenly ground the Karinga for the V60 the first time out. Turned out wonderful (as stated above). The second time, with grind corrected?

Where’s my pie?!

A “roasty” grind

This grind conundrum dovetails nicely with something I learned, but forgot, about grinding (even slightly) darker coffees, and a component of this particular Tonx offering that a couple friends and I noticed: it’s a little more “roasty” than we are accustomed to in a Tonx coffee.

Ok, let’s see if I can get this out in some sort of concise but intelligible written form… In my experience, the more darkly a coffee is roasted, the finer you need to grind it for a given brew method.

In other words, all other things being equal, if you were to take a coffee, roast it two ways (one darker than the other, of course) and brew the two resulting bags of beans using the very same method, the more darkly roasted of the two would require a finer grind than the lighter to achieve optimal extraction (i.e. to taste its best). “What?”, you may be asking, “are you talking about?”

I’ve been told (and it makes sense to me) that more darkly roasted coffees are more porous—less dense—than lighter roasted beans. So it follows that a more porous bean is going to allow more water through than one that is roasted more lightly. This is something that I’ve forgotten but that, in a wonderful bit of serendipity, has come back to prove itself true: a roasty grind (i.e. a finer grind) for a roasty coffee. In order to hold the water with the grinds long enough to get a good extraction you’re going to need a finer grind.

Gawd, I love this stuff…says the nerd.

More pie, please

Lucky for me, I have more. Tomorrow, for breakfast, I’ll be having some more blackberry pie. If you have any Tonx Kenya Karinga and a Chemex, I hope you’ll join me.

An update — brew time

Now that I’m paying closer attention, a note on brew time: with a finer grind you’re going to get longer brew times of course. My blackberry pie experience came courtesy of an unusually long 4:15 brew time. That’s not normally what I go for—aound 3:00 is the goal—but I’ve found that the Chemex, in particular, seems to handle longer brew times with more panache than others.

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2 thoughts on “Tonx’s Kenya Karinga in the Chemex

  1. I only wish I had Tonx’s Kenya Karinga. Sounds amazing.

    The bit about more porous beans extracting slower seems counter-intuitive to me, though. A more porous bean means more surface area for extraction to occur. Multiply that by a larger surface area from a smaller grind and it seems like you’d really have a speedy extraction. Am I missing something here?

    1. Good point about surface area.

      I’ve found that because the beans are more porous, they don’t hold the water back as well as less porous beans.

      My hypotheses goes like this: with two coffees of the same type and grind, one a darker roast than the other, the amount of space through which water can travel is increased in the darker roasted coffee as the water will travel not only through the space between the grinds but through the spaces within the grinds themselves, speeding up the rate of flow through the bed and reducing the amount of time the water has with the coffee.

      Another issue I had forgotten is that the spaces inside the more darkly roasted could possibly be trapping water, reducing the amount of extracted coffee that ends up in the cup.

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