Malawi is just beginning to gain credibility in the specialty coffee market. There are a few up and coming Malawi coffee groups, but your best bet are the farms in the South. Malawi is a landlocked, very small nation, with a very small coffee crop. It borders Tanzania in the north; but northern Malawi lacks the altitude and infrastructure (ie, roads) that the Southern part of the country boasts. The coffee grown on Sable Farm reaches altitudes of 5000 to 7000 feet and is then sorted very well and washed with clean water. These are the large AA beans that were sorted out as the best beans in the crop.
This is a WASHED process coffee, so it's less fruity, but has a fuller body than say, a natural Ethiopia. I would compare it most closely to a Tanzania. There is plum, lime, green apple notes -- a pleasant juiciness in the taste, and a clean sweet finish. Hints of citrus.
Because they are peaberries, they are a little bit harder to roast than most coffees. Very dense, so they require a lot of heat, and if you don't have high air circulation, you risk burning the outside before roasting the inside of the bean. Peaberries do really well in air roasters and if you roast in a skillet or anywhere that you have to stir the beans manually, because they are roly-poly instead of flat sided. If you have a drum roaster, they do well if you can increase your drum speed or increase your exhaust fan during the roast.
Aside from the density of the bean, they are very easy to roast! Anywhere from just out of first cracks to just into 2nd cracks all share a similar taste profile, and all taste great. The lighter side of the spectrum gets you more brightness, hints of plum and is a little bit tarter. The medium roasts are our favorite, a little bit shy of 2nd cracks -- some green apple, juicy lime, smoother, sweeter. And just inside 2nd cracks it is less sweet and less complex, but still fruity, still citrusy. I would liken it to a very nice Tanzania with a forgiving roasting curve.
I like this coffee quite a bit as a single-origin when it comes out right, but I also like to blend with it because it adds a sweetness to anything you pair it with and it's a good way to use up the roasts that are a little bit off.
US Arrival January 2018
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